"38 Years Old" as written by Robert Baker, Gordon Downie, Johnny Fay, Paul Langlois and Gordon Sinclair....
Twelve men broke loose in seventy-three
From Mill Haven maximum security
Twelve pictures lined up across the front page
Seems the Mounties had a summertime war to wage

The chief told the people they had nothing to fear
Said, "The last thing they wanna do is hang around here"
They mostly came from towns with long French names
But one of the dozen was a hometown shame

Same pattern on the table, same clock on the wall
Been one seat empty, eighteen years in all
Freezing slow time, away from the world
He's thirty-eight years old, never kissed a girl
He's thirty-eight years old, never kissed a girl

We were sitting around the table, heard the telephone ring
Father said he'd tell 'em if he saw anything
Heard the tap on the window in the middle of the night
Held back the curtains for my older brother Mike

See my sister got raped so a man got killed
Local boy went to prison, man's buried on the hill
Folks went back to normal when they closed the case
They still stare at their shoes when they pass our place

My mother cried, "The horror has finally ceased!"
He whispered, "Yeah, for the time being at least"
Over her shoulder on the squad car megaphone
Said, "Let's go Michael, son, we're taking you home"

Same pattern on the table, same clock on the wall
Been one seat empty, eighteen years in all
Freezing slow time, away from the world
He's thirty-eight years old, never kissed a girl
He's thirty-eight years old, never kissed a girl
He's thirty-eight years old, never kissed a girl


Lyrics submitted by black_cow_of_death

"38 Years Old" as written by Gordon Sinclair Gordon Downie

Lyrics © Peermusic Publishing

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38 Years Old song meanings
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38 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentI for one am an American and friggin LOVE the Tragically Hip. Gord is the most intelligent and talented songwriter in this day and age...if not in any day and age. I have been a fan since I heard "New Orleans Is Sinking" on CFNY. I think that "Day For Night" has to be the quintessential album - well balanced, thought provoking, and lyrically rich. Of course, I AM from a border town (Niagara Falls, NY) so maybe the Canadian-ness has leaked over the border...
    flatline_7on May 26, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI once heard GORD introduce this song in the following Manner (parapharsing)
    "This is a totally fictional story about a totally fictional town, but the people there think it's true, so it's true"
    canadianJAYon June 07, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Commentwow this song has some of the best lyrics ive ever heard, i hate how the hip get no respect here in the states, but then again it only makes me appreciate them more. luckily im from buffalo so they stop here on every tour
    narte31on June 18, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentGot my tickets to see them on July 12th for the second time. -Very- excited! They are the Canadian gods of music! Esp. Gordie....love him.
    Katydidon June 22, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe first line is fact, Milhaven Maximum security penitentary is about 100 yards away from me., in Millhaven, Ontario. There are probably about 400 people who live in millhaven, and 2,000 who live in Bath where I live, which is right beside it. Anyways, it is one of the worst prisons in Canada, and there was a famous young inmate there who was on his way out of prison when a riot broke out and a guard was killed, somehow he got laid with the murder charged and spent the next 30 years or so locked up for something he didn't do. I can't remember the name off hand of the guy but he eventually got out. Anyway the hip are from nearby Kingston so there wrote about this story. Thats what the song is about.
    TJE_Drummer_11on June 20, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis song is very sad, i love it. The guy went to prison for killing a guy who raped his sister? i would kill anyone who raped my sister, no question i would hunt them down. But go to jail for revenge? He deserved it i say! I guess law doesnt see it the same way, they feel that people should leave punishments to the police, that is if the police are even able to catch the scum. I also hate the end where they're like "lets go michael son, we're taking you home"
    rammsteingirlon July 30, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentamerica isn't ready for the tragically hip. gordie and co. make music that is far too intelligent and good for the simple minded, pop-grubbing jackasses that pollute the u.s. the hip rocks.
    bosco9on May 05, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment*LMAO* I won't comment on that....just nod my head in agreement..heh
    The Hip are gods
    Katydidon May 09, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti, too, love the tragically hip. this song (as well as, you know, every other song by tth) is simply amazing.
    grrrlskouton June 02, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOn a radio show that aired in the Toronto area in 1989 Gord Downie said that only the first line is based on fact. The rest is just him imagining what it would be like if a family member went to the big house and broke out and came home for dinner and then maybe out to a movie later ((highwaygirl.com/…))
    Katydidon June 12, 2002   Link

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