That time Gord Downie told me his original lyrics for “Ahead By a Century”

aheadbyacentury

By Steve Newton

Tomorrow is Gord Downie’s 53th birthday, and radio programmers and music fans across the land will surely celebrate the milestone with multiple spins of the Tragically Hip’s greatest hits.

One such track is “Ahead By a Century”, the band’s highest charting single, off their 1996 Trouble at the Henhouse album.

In October of ’96 I did my fifth and last interview with Downie, and at one point during the conversation I brought up that song, which seems to evoke hazy memories of youth. I asked him if he went back to his childhood a lot for lyrical inspiration, which led to a pretty interesting revelation about his original opening lines for “Ahead By a Century”, and an insightful analysis of his songwriting process in general.

Have a listen:

 

Downie Tapes #1 (1989)

Downie Tapes #2 (1989)

Downie Tapes #3 (1989)

Downie Tapes #4 (1992)

Downie Tapes #5 (1992)

Downie Tapes #6 (1992)

Downie Tapes #7 (1992)

Downie Tapes #8 (Jan. 1995)

Downie Tapes #9 (Jan. 1995)

Downie Tapes #10 (Jan. 1995)

Downie Tapes #11 (Jan. 1995)

Downie Tapes #12 (July 1995)

Downie Tapes #13 (July 1995)

Downie Tapes #14 (July 1995)

Downie Tapes #15 (July 1995)

Downie Tapes #16 (July 1995)

Donate to the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research by clicking sunnybrook.ca/gord.

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