Books·Canadian

Coke Machine Glow

Gord Downie's Coke Machine Glow accompanied his 2001 album of the same name and contains the lyrics to the songs featured on the album.

Gord Downie

Coke Machine Glow is a rich, haunting collection that reveals both the public and private selves of one of Canada's most enigmatic musicians. In poetry that is urban, gritty and political, as well as romantic, nostalgic and whimsical, Downie allows us a glimpse inside his world. With his acute and observing eye, he gives us snapshots of his life, both on the road and at home; he writes of loneliness and isolation; of longing and desire; of the present and the past; of dreams and nightmares; love lost and love of family. Ultimately, this book is about the distances that bridge and separate us. (Knopf Canada)

Gord Downie was the lead singer of the Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip. He was a singer-songwriter, poet, actor, philanthropist and activist. He died at age 53 in 2017. Downie's music album Coke Machine Glow was originally released in 2001, in between the ninth and 10th albums by his band The Tragically Hip. The album was released with an accompanying book of poetry of the same name that featured poems about his work, life and music. The reissue marks the record's 20th anniversary.

Why Gord Downie wrote Coke Machine Glow

"Writing poetry is kind of freeing. Ultimately, when you're trying to put words to music, it gets fairly mathematical in a hurry. It becomes a challenge to write to the music. 

Writing poetry is kind of freeing.- Gord Downie

"You're constantly running back and forth from 'the meaning department,' from 'the good sounding word department,' and checking in on each department to see if everything's OK.

"I picked up a tape of Al Purdy reading his poems in a delete bin, and I walked up to the desk to buy it for $2 and the guy said, 'You know, he died today?' And I was like, 'Wow.'

"I slapped it on my car and then I started 'reading' great things from him. His voice is pretty etched in my memory. It's a great, indelible voice.

"The day that happened, it gave me a strange permission. That day, I thought, I want to do this. I read a quote about him talking about why he wrote poetry. He said he writes poetry like a spider spins webs and probably much for the same reason to support his existence. That was my permission. That was good."

Read more in his interview with The Next Chapter.

More about Gord Downie

Remembering Gord Downie | Juno Awards 2018

4 years ago
Duration 1:40
Canadians remember Gord Downie in this tribute at the 2018 Juno Awards. 1:40

 

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