Erica’s Word – Game Theory at The Town Pump



Lately at night I look out the window onto Vancouver, like I used to look out onto Derbyshire. I see a picture, I see rooftops, but instead of green short shaved moorlike hills there are mountains and water. The mountains are close enough that I can get to them in less than an hour. This room is my own, with floor-to-ceiling windows. One single boat lays about on the bay as if it is happy to have it all to itself. On this night the clouds are breaking up into milky moonlight with no hot tear damp pillows. It’s like when I walk past the expensive shops in Gastown and see fluffy rugs and delightful small chairs I can’t afford. Only this sky I can have.

I remember the nights when I was much younger. When I hear a car horn and I go to grab my purse and fix my hair and lipstick one last time, and lock the door behind me, a few days ago the Jehovahs Witnesses had been there, I had chatted with them for a while as I felt like it, and I had finished my classes for the day, and they were quite good conversationalists. Then they showed up again earlier that day, and that wasn’t as much fun, so I politely told them I was in a rush to go somewhere.

So i opened up the door wide, when the cold air outside coaches me to shut the door behind me and go into the night. I go out because I feel there is some kind of opening out in the darkness for me, somewhere that waits for my voice and my shadow. I step into the night and it is some invisible hand that takes mine, bringing me into a different world of beer soaked bar mats and drunk city lights, to see what it will reveal.  My hopes are cabined into some small compartment for the night. It’s like someone has tied bows into the branches of the weeping birch tree by the street I think and I hear the crows settling in for the night.

Later, I was standing in the backstage room at the Town Pump, after the bands had played, having had a few pints, waiting to see what everyone was doing next, if I was finding my way home, or whether we were going somewhere else to drink. Maybe a party. At that time backstage  was a room located upstairs from the stage. Game Theory and Cannon Heath Down were backstage then with a few other friends.

I was mostly fixated on Scott Miller’s hair, watching him move around the table, putting away band equipment, his skinniness, and listening to his American accent. Luckily I don’t think he noticed I was watching him.

I think it was around 1987 or ’88 when Game Theory played the Town Pump in Vancouver. Cannon Heath Down were opening for them. My friend John was in CHD. John was my going-to-gig buddy, and he was the driver.  There were plenty of nights where we would see bands at The Savoy or the Town Pump or the Commodore or Railway, or just go for a beer at the Rose and Thorne, going over one bridge or another, heading towards the lights of downtown,  in his car with the music wildly blaring, from whatever basement suite I was living in. That was why I was backstage, after the bands had played, and I finished off the beer that I was drinking and set the pint glass on a nearby table. After some type of regimental beer count. The glass made a dull clink sound as I returned it to the wood. I had been backstage there a few times before, but on this occasion, that was why.

I seem to remember John expressing his admiration of Donnette in the car on the way there, or at some other point, or maybe I am remembering it wrong. She also had the hair thing going. They were nice people, Game Theory. We were introduced and I spoke with them and it turned out they needed someplace to stay that night, so I said they could crash at mine in Kits. Well, there was space and it was somewhere to sleep if they didn’t have anywhere else. John then offered up their ‘band house’ but then was actually honest about how messy it was, and they must have seriously heeded his warning.

My place was relatively tidy, just a bit on the small side. But cozy. Game Theory staying at my place could have almost happened, until an ex-manager of Cannon Heath Down said the band could stay at his farm near White Rock. Damn it my inside voice said. Then I thought, if I was Game Theory I would have chosen the farm instead of the couch and floor at my basement suite. No farm no Game Theory, I thought.

My favourite song of Game Theory’s was Erica’s Word. They also played Throwing the Election, and Crash into June.

I had been in a Cannon Heath Down video earlier that year. John was one of my best friends at the time. He had a girlfriend. One day he rang me up and asked if I wanted to be the ‘rock chick’ in their video. He had already asked his girlfriend and she didn’t want to do it. Ok, I said. Then I had borrowed my roommate’s clothing, everything black with a mustard cardigan and stood in a barn with red lipstick on, being bossed about by the video people. There was supposed to be a junkyard scene, and I received a phone call the next day saying I was expected to be in it, but I had said sorry, I had to go to my parents for Thanksgiving dinner so I couldn’t be in the junkyard. The video was shown on Much Music on a long weekend, so that was something.  Now I look at the very brief clips of the 19 year old me in the video and I don’t recognize myself. I seem frozen in another year.

That night, after the bands had finished, leaving the bar on the cobbles the air had long thrown on the carpet of midnight, and I had been dropped off in the early morning. It was that night again.  Everything should be still, but I’m home alone and crawling into bed with the universe spinning in colour. I was waiting for some gymnastic leap of faith. I was looking for something, something good. Maybe it was the perfect night sky, and not the boyfriend I wanted.


Erica’s Word

Erica’s gone shy
Some unknown X behind the why
All is some less today
Mass not conserving in the old way
Checking out with Brother Jay
I’ll miss your half of me
Girl are you leaving something you might later need?

Erica’s word, taking me clear and leaving me blurred
Erica’s news, singing the praise and playing the blues
Pulling the rug out under my shoes

Twelve years ago
Shorthand allegiance to the long throw
Make believe and pretend
I remember when they served the same end
You always liked the photo of us sitting in our car
Just like we’re driving
Girl it’s not looking like we’ll go all that far

Erica’s word, taking me clear and leaving me blurred
Erica’s find, blowing my hair and tearing my mind
Throwing for grabs and leaving behind

Maybe you’ll find that promised love
The tingle to the touch
Girl and I hope it comes through for you in a clutch
But I wouldn’t bet much

Erica’s word, taking me clear and leaving me blurred
Erica’s news, singing the praise and playing the blues
Pulling the rug out under my shoes

Erica’s find, blowing my hair and tearing my mind
Erica’s word, taking me clear and leaving me blurred
Knocking me down from second to third


Throwing the Election

There’s a light on the nineteenth floor tonight
They don’t know there won’t even be a fight
But they’ll find out I’ve tired of all the things I’ve called my own
When they go to the final mass alone

Don’t even waste the man-hours on us
We are finding no solution
Call all the boys in from the fighting fronts
We have lost the revolution
None of the soaring flight we dreamed
Is any closer to perfection
And all I want is one to fold my arms around
We are throwing the election

There’s a light on in Joanie’s room tonight
And she won’t sleep till summer’s going right
She thought she saw something that would lead her to believe
I’m the kind who’ll accept the strokes and leave

Make me an offer, I don’t waste them now
We have no more fixed intentions
Give all the faithful long-deserved rests
We’ve abandoned our dissentions
You could be one of someone’s hundreds
Who’ll be chosen for affection
And all I want is one to fold my arms around
We are throwing the election

I’ve got a feeling it’s all rigged
I’ve got a feeling it ended a long time ago
Nobody tells me
I’ve got a feeling it’s over now
I’ve got a feeling it’s over now
I’ve got a feeling the votes are in and I got none
And all I want is one


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