I’ve always been a big fan of covering songs that mean something to me…songs that have touched me in some way or left some kind of indelible mark. That’s why I’m always flattered and spring to attention when someone takes the time to learn and perform one of mine.
I’ve spoken before about the great version of ‘Hello Danger Bay’ my good pal Lorrie Matheson did a few years ago.
Bob LeDrew performing ‘Hello, Danger Bay’ as part of the
BobCat House Concert series in Ottawa, Canada.
Not only did I enjoy it, but I also got a kick out of Bob’s interpretation of some of the lyrics…another one of the interesting nuances when someone puts their own spin to a cover.
All of this got me thinking it might be interesting to document a bit about the history of the song and share it here for those interested.
I’m not going to lie to you.
Hello, Danger Bay started out as feeble attempt at a love song. But as with many (most?) songs I write, the vignettes in the song twist and turn in the hopes of challenging the listener to formulate their own thoughts and ideas of what is happening in the story.
The title is an indirect reference to the classic CBC TV show ‘Danger Bay’. I say indirect because the song was inspired by a girl I was crushing on at the time who used the term as an expression to describe ‘trouble’.
For example, I might say ‘Let’s go out tonight’ and with a smirk she’d reply, ‘That’s Danger Bay’.
She used it so much you may have noticed it stuck with me.
“…And a talent for DANGER!”
As for some of the key lines in the song,”I wonder who’ll invent the true free ride upon the captain’s chairs, hell bent” is a reference to the amount of touring I did with The Stand GT. Of course the ‘true free ride’ part is quite sarcastic and the ‘hell bent’ reference is a reflection on our collective state of mind in those days: tour and play music, non-stop, at any cost. Hell bent was almost an understatement.
I got a kick out of Bob’s slight alteration here, singing ‘heaven sent’ instead of ‘hell bent’. I’m going to suggest that may have been a subconscious insert, though, being the nice guy he is. ;)
“No one thinks to save your back or leave the window open just a crack…until the hurt becomes fresh air” is probably one of my favourite lines in the song, though it really contains more than one of those vignettes I mentioned earlier. I was always proud of the line and I thought it set up the introduction to the chorus well while intriguing the listener, coaxing them out of that first verse.
During the climax of the song, the main character is expecting an apology, yet is already firm in the idea that all will never be forgiven. So sad!
The chorus has a melancholy resolution (and minor chord for effect) as the first person compares the likelihood of forgiveness to their own space travel (which of course is a ridiculous notion): “You want to explain, I know, and try to save your face / Well that might fly when I log time in space“.
Personally, I really like Bob’s interpretation of this line which is also melancholy in its delivery and sums up the sentiment in a less dramatic fashion, but with equal potency: “That might fly in your own time and space“. Awesome.
All in all, I remember being pretty excited when HDB first came together. It was a track ultimately destined for The Stand GT LP ‘Good On The River‘ and was recorded in 1999, one of the first of many sessions I’ve done with Dave Draves.
Dave came up with the beautiful piano hook in that version which starts mellow and explodes for the second half. I remember being nervous about having to sing that high when it really kicks in:
I honestly felt at the time like the song took me to a different level of songwriting and I’ve been fortunate the reaction to it has been very positive. That was one of the reasons why I decided to re-record it for my 2010 solo LP ‘A Date With A Smoke Machine‘. It ended up being a much mellower take, and again, with great support from Draves on guitar and backing vocals. Though I almost regret not including that amazing piano line from the previous version:
Thanks for covering the song, Bob!
If any of you are interested in more details about the song or others, hit me up and let me know here.
I promise I’ll try not to respond by stringing together random vignettes.