Bachman tells story behind classic song

Classic rock is a part of our past, but it can still surprise.

Randy Bachman is one of several acts on the Cariboo Rocks The North roster, the classic rock festival cranking out of Exhibition Park this weekend. Like many of those acts, much has been made of his material from that era. His songs have been examined and pondered by millions, and like any fan, he, too, loves to discover the nuggets of meaning behind his favourite tunes.

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He talks about some of those behind-the-scenes topics on his own weekly CBC Radio show Randy's Vinyl Tap, and he also consumes it for his own fun.

One of his favourite moments of revelation came from an interview with 1970s hitmaker David Gates (frontman of the band Bread and a solo success with tunes like The Goodbye Girl and Took The Last Train). Bachman told The Citizen he'd always, like most fans, assumed the song I Would Give Everything I Own was about romantic regrets, but Gates confessed in an interview it was about the loss of his father.

A moment of revelation like that, said Bachman, is what deepens a fan's love of any piece of art.

So what's a Randy Bachman song we might have a mistaken impression about?

"Some songs are quite true," he admitted about his writing style.

After mulling the question a bit he came to a conclusion he thought fans of his songs likely wouldn't know from the lyrics.

"(She's Come) Undun is about a real girl I knew who was at a party with me, and this was in the 1960s and someone slipped some LSD into her drink, and I don't drink so I wasn't drinking but she had a sip of whatever and went into a coma. She never came out of it and passed away months later."

But that's not where the song's genesis ends. There was more, and Bachman had clear recall of the moment the composition fuse got lit, following the shock of the incident.

"The next day after the party, after emergency services took her away, I was listening to the radio in Vancouver, Tim Burge (veteran Vancouver deejay) was on the radio, and he said 'here's a guy named Robert Zimmerman, he's known as Bob Dylan now, and here's the whole side of his album.' Somewhere in there Dylan said the line 'she came undone' (the precise song was Ballad In Plain D) and I went and wrote She's Come Undun for this girl. It really is a meaningful song to me."

Meaningful songs abound today and Sunday in the CN Centre agora when Cariboo Rocks The North.

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