I left your house this morning
'Bout a quarter after nine
Coulda been the Willie Nelson
Could of been the wine

When I left your house this morning
It was a little after nine
It was in Bobcaygeon, I saw the constellations
Reveal themselves, one star at a time

Drove back to town this morning
With working on my mind
I thought of maybe quittin'
Thought of leavin' it behind

Went back to bed this morning
And as I'm pullin' down the blind
Yeah, the sky was dull and hypothetical
And fallin' one cloud at a time

That night in Toronto
With its checkerboard floors
Riding on horseback
And keeping order restored
'Til The Men They Couldn't Hang
Stepped to the mic and sang
And their voices rang with that Aryan twang

I got to your house this morning
Just a little after nine
In the middle of that riot
Couldn't get you off my mind

So, I'm at your house this morning
Just a little after nine
'Cause, it was in Bobcaygeon
Where I saw the constellations reveal themselves
One star at a time

Lyrics submitted by black_cow_of_death, edited by scee0912

Bobcaygeon Lyrics as written by Gordon Downie, Johnny Fay, Joseph Paul Langlois, Robert Baker, Robert Gordon Sinclair

Lyrics © Peermusic Publishing

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Bobcaygeon song meanings
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  • +4
    General Comment

    On one level, this is a song about being caught in a dilemma: should you quit the bright lights for the quiet of a small town? On another level, this song may ask whether you'd like to see evil (in the form of fascism) out in the open or hidden under the surface.

    In the small town, things become clear; the constellations slowly reveal themselves. In the city, on the other hand, things are not so clear. We close the blind to obscure the sky, which in any case is dull, cloudy, and "hypothetical." And in the end, he seems to favour the country, since we end up there after he thinks of quitting.

    The bridge seems to refer to fascism, as "the men they couldn't hang" sing with an Aryan twang while mounted police try to restore order. The video, which casts Downie as a cop, seems to support that interpretation. On the other hand, The Men They Couldn't Hang was an 80s band which played the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto around the same time the Hip played there, and the Aryan twang could refer to their accents (although a Celtic burr would be closer the mark).

    In the end, it doesn't much matter. It's either a cop wondering whether to quit being a cop, or a singer ruminating on whether to quit being a singer.

    (A side note: it's one of several Hip songs that allude or seem to allude to fascism, so it's likely that Downie considered that angle.)

    wonderdogon February 01, 2005   Link
  • +3
    My Interpretation

    @wonderdog and @Ryan_Cole : I love your interpretations. Check out the video at youtube.com/watch , then pause it at 4:38. The guitarist's guitar has a scrawling that says "This machine kills fascists". That's a nod to Woody Guthrie, too!

    grandgrooveon June 17, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    The 'Checkerboard floors riding on horseback', AFAIK, refers to the checker pattern on the RCMP's hats. A lot of people used to refer to them as 'checkerboard floors'.

    As for the bit about communism, I think that's unlikely. Canada's a democratic socialist country, and as such, the McCarthyist 'perils of communism' is a bit of anachronism here, and I don't think that that is a sentiment Gord would support (though he isn't a communist [who is?] he's not the type to characterize the disposessed as such, and that's who was really marching in those 'riots' in the thirties; the communist party was just an organizing force).

    As for what 'riot' it's about, I'm not entirely sure the question is relevant. There have been a lot of demonstrations in Canada recently, some even on the scale of the 'riots' in the 1930s. (Quebec City and Bay Street, for example) Whether you want to call them riots or not depends which side of the fence you're on, and what your feelings are on the use of police power.

    I don't think it's important though, because the song is about the relationship between the cop and the girl in Bobcaygeon (beautiful town; have a cottage there, and BTW, the stars are beautifully visible, no light pollution from Toronto). Although I would speculate that the 'aryan twang' is a reference to fascists being the source of the riot. More characteristically Downie. As a bit of trivia, the man they couldn't hang who jumps on stage with 'the constellations' in the video is Hugh Dillon from the Headstones.

    Sigma-6on March 13, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    maybe the cop actually sides with the rioters and doesn't want to have to crush the rebellion? that would make it pretty tough to go to work that day, but he can't desert the police force...

    papyr_bag_princesson May 28, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Here's what I heard: the song is based on a story, true-to-life, about an RCMP officer who quit his job after being obliged to patrol a punk concert hosted by some Canuck white supremacy network that had been granted a permit for the show by the city. The point of police presence was to provide protection for the group and their fans against protesters who had announced plans for a counter-rally to oppose fascism. What happened afterwards is pretty faithfully depicted in the video. The heads getting knocked about are those of anti-fascism protesters in the hollow name of liberal dem & free speech - ah, no, sorry - "Peace, order & good governance." The kicker is that, in addition to having to face personal questions about why he became a cop in the first place (would that there were a few more thousands like him), the guy was also seeing an Asian-Canadian at the time. For me, this song brings is one of the most concise indictments of contradictions plaguing (Canadian) liberal democracy in Canadian tunage. And it's pretty.

    muzzlehatchon October 13, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    A brilliant mix of words and melodious music that defines the outdoor summer music festival - only the irony lies in the fact that it's told from a COP's point of view and not the singer's

    canadianJAYon June 07, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    The songs rhythm and Gord's melodic voice make this song extra special Canada rules!

    MARLEYISKEYon July 28, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I being from Toronto, I have seen them live several times. When "that night in Toronto.." bit comes on they stop the song cause 30,000 people over-power the music.

    Drink_and_Fighton August 03, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Ahhhh!! This song takes me back. Canada does rule! and the Hip makes it feel damn good to be Canadian! They represent us perfectly!

    carmson September 28, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    One thing to say, i love this song.

    BigHeadJedon April 30, 2003   Link

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