Something On references


"...Outside there's hectic action
The Ice is coverin' the trees
And one of em's interconnecting
With my Chevrolet Caprice

Black Out to Phantom Power."

The great Ice Storm of early 1998 was the inspiration for this lyric. Mr. Downie himself explained it best during a radio appearance in Sausalito, California:

"You know it's taking on a certain epic of pioneer spirit. We weren't actually holed up in the house as the ice ravaged the county side. 'We've gotta make this record, Ice Storm be damned.' It put everything on hold in the entire North East for about five days and beyond. It crippled Quebec hydro power, anyway it was a huge storm, of huge magnitude. I was in Toronto, which never gets touched by weather of any sort, and these guys (the band) were in Kingston battling it out in their own individual ways as everyone was. Dealing with things from generator crime, to all manner of paranoia. Ya know, 'Escape from New York' material.

We came and we had to do a song, 'Something On.' And ya know, I guess the feel of a guitar neck is pretty nice after five days of... that." 

The Chevrolet Caprice is a car; five wheels, one for steering: the usual.

Hip Head Sam Fitzpatrick had this to add:

"The opening line "your imagination's having puppies." I understand the song is about the 98 ice storm which occurred when I was 5 and I can only recall the headlines and hysteria. This first line is one that means a lot to me. I work in the trades and the term "dogfucker" can be heard just about everyday. If you are unfamiliar, a dogfucker can be defined as someone who is lazy. However instead of dogfucker you may here the terms "having puppies" or 'making puppies" to refer to someone who is not working hard.

I am certain that Gord is saying that when the power is out your imagination is having puppies as in without your electronics you lack ability to create. This is what I love about Gord. A post grad could scratch their head and think he means your mind is flourishing or something, but buddy listening to the radio on break would know exactly what he means."

Hip Head Sean Gosse sent this along in 2019. Let me say how awesome it is that little bits of poetry keep revealing themselves, even after Gord has left us. Thanks Sean.

Hello Stephen,

Something that has always stood out to me as clever word play in the song Something On from Phantom Power comes in the choruses.

Gord sings 'You're never more hot than, when you've got something on' and later 'blackout to phantom power, and like there's nothing on.'

48v Phantom power is what is required to power studio condenser microphones. When powered, the mic is on or 'hot.' (You're never more hot than, when you've got something on)

If the power is out as it was in the ice storm there's no hot mic and nothing on. I've always taken these lines as directly about the microphone he's singing into.

In a larger sense with the title of the album, no power means you can't hear the record. The 'something' in Something On is Phantom Power. Maybe it's just me but I've always found those lines and the whole song just very, very clever. Or maybe I think about it too much.

Anyway, hope all is well.