The Dark Canuck references


"This one is for you, and it goes on and on and on..."
"If from the outside there's no demand for what you do
"And inside there's an army waiting for their marching orders from you
Come sit on my swing seat
Come sit on my porch
After ten at night smoke your cigarettes
If you like, of course"

"...If we ever get home
And the subject comes up
This War isn't for children
War is nothing's enough"

A song in two parts for Canada's soldier: the peace keeper, the general, the young man, the father. The first half of the song seems to be sung in tribute to those who serve, while the second half alters the tempo and the point of view. It seems to be coming from a man overseas eager to get home. It carries the anti-war message that Gord himself would champion during appearances on Much Music during his 2003 solo tour. 

"...If we ever get home
Gonna have me three children
Apple, Zippo and Metronome,
that's what I'm gonna name them"

Apple, Zippo and Metronome are the names of three record labels. Zippo; a now defunct American independent label that specialized in garage metal. Metronome; a Swedish Jazz label. And of course Apple; the label created by the Beatles in 1968. I have no idea if that was Gord's intent. This could simply be a matter of sonic compatibility, the way "Bobcaygeon" happened to rhyme with "constellation" and so found itself in song.

"...O in the clouds of blood at the end of JAWS
In the misted cars honking their applause."

Dah-nuh, Dah-nuh, Dah-nuh, DahnaDahnaDahnaDahna... okay so it doesn't work so well in print, but if you don't know about Spielberg's shark movie you should really come up for air more often. It created the mass-released summer blockbuster, ended the "auteur" period of film-making and gave birth to the "pop" period which, some argue, still exists today. It, along with The Godfather, proved that sequels could make as much if not more money than the originals, hence why we're still stuck in said "pop" period of Hollywood. The lyric paints a very nice picture of a "steamy" Drive-In which folks of my generation know about as well as our parents knew crank-starting cars.

Gord has also taken to quoting it's famous "...yell shark and you've got full scale panic on your hands" line during the intro to Fire In The Hole

Hip Head Steve added this:

Whilst browsing your fine, often visited website this evening, I revisited the reference window for "The Dark Canuck", my favorite Hip song. I came to this conclusion:

What I think Gord is asking with this song, it seemingly being about a soldier returning to his life after war; is, "how does one adjust to the world after witnessing such atrocities"? And going to / reacting to cheesy horror movies after witnessing real life, unspeakable horror. This is something all veterans have encountered in their lives.

"The Dark Canuck", being the fictitious name of the movie, can also be metaphor for the soul of the "darkened" soldier; a Canadian: Canuck a slang/derogatory (?) term. Mentioning having a family, (if we ever get home) and painting the picture of the family man years later with his children at the drive in movies, and somehow dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome years after the war: "O' in the clouds of blood at the end of JAWS / in the misted cars honking their applause" Gord says is the heart of "dark enough". The rest of the song echoes this sentiment:

"O' it's JAWS and The Dark Canuck should we stay for The Dark Canuck? yea.Everyone, hands up!? Who's for 'The Dark Canuck'?

I think we relinquished enough and it's still dark enough and it goes on and on and on..."

Michelle Gretzinger Dearborn was kind enough to share this take:

I've been listening to Dark Canuck quite a bit lately lately and the first part has been so haunting, I'd love to bounce an idea off of you, it seems like an observation of our relationship with Canadian FN peoples - the patronizing "can I help you?" and the reference to the flawed notion that all of us are the same, the layers of the understanding and pretense being all a facade, and then of course the line of "til their art falls out" - the one part of First Nations culture the rest of Canada quite happily consumes and hangs as a sign of inclusiveness and celebration, while so many of our fellow citizens live in poverty, on and off reserve.

It's all complicated, for sure, but the first part seems so much more to me about a strange war of colonization with Native populations than war, generally. The second part fits in this narrative that is working in my head right now - the shift that occurs when we see the bloodshed of colonization as truly grotesque and depressing and you just numb yourself, the talking about nothing, where you watch Jaws and just nod and honk like everyone else even though it's just absurd to celebrate death and conquering in any way.

The Jaws double feature works so perfectly - the blockbuster masses on one hand, and then the image of celebrating hunting a creature in its natural habitat, conquering a space that was not ours to conquer, so when it's on the bill with The Dark Canuck, and the disconnected citizen observes that we've relinquished enough - so on narrative for a common thread of interaction with FN, we've given enough, no need to talk about it any more. This song has really jumped out at me as taking on this different meaning in the context of Gord wearing that Jaws shirt on the 2016 tour.