Today’s Ted Tocks Covers feature continues the annual tradition that began in 2021. In the throes of a COVID induced malaise I established the Ted Tocks Covers Hall of Fame in order to pay tribute to the artists that had such an obvious influence on so many of the posts that I was sharing. Patterns became apparent, and certain names came up frequently. Out of this connection, an opportunity emerged to pay homage to a handful of artists, aiming demonstrate this lineage in one place. The result of this saw the year one inductees include:
The Rolling Stones
In year two, COVID lingered, and the promise to continue this celebration gave way to my four favourite songwriters being honoured:
Grateful Dead/Robert Hunter
Choosing the four artists to commemorate as part of this year’s inductions seemed easy at first, but then I began to second guess myself to some extent. After a fair bit of deliberation, I landed on Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Tom Petty (and the Heartbreakers) and The Tragically Hip. Someday, Ted Tocks Covers may need to establish a committee. One thing is for sure. I hope the process for the Ted Tocks Covers Hall of Fame never becomes as jaded as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Let’s be clear, right here and now, there is little connection between the two.
Here, I will humbly state, as the Ted Tocks Covers institution quietly unfolds, it is becoming apparent that it is infinitely more consistent and from an artistic perspective I humbly submit, it is better.
From here, I will let you decide.
If you click through to the many links that will be shared below you will travel avenues to over 75 songs and countless artists. Based on the fact that this is year three, if you click on the links for year one and two you have the opportunity to enjoy about 200 more songs and another plethora of acts that were either inspired by, or evolved from their influence. Whatever the case may be.
This is important to share because in essence the root of Ted Tocks Covers is to demonstrate the lineage of music, artists and songwriters through the decades. The Ted Tocks Covers mission speaks to this effort and through this Hall of Fame project the best of the best continues to be celebrated.
Enough of this preamble. Let’s get to it.
The first inductee for year three is Bob Dylan.
There is little Ted Tocks Covers can say that has not already been said. His career has spanned 60 years and counting. Honours have been heaped upon him, and words have been shared in an effort to glorify his contribution to music, poetry, song writing and culture. Sometimes artists manage to transcend their discipline. They become that important. Bob Dylan is definitely more than any one label people might try to attach to him. He is a philosopher who has managed to bridge generations with his wisdom and intellect. He established himself as a Woody Guthrie disciple. His evolution saw him become a folk music icon within a short time. Not to be typecast he famously went electric, much to the chagrin of the music establishment. This was such a significant event that people still refer to it almost 60 years later.
None of the controversy mattered, because looking back, it is all so clear. Bob Dylan was always going to do things his way. This single-minded approach, defines rock and roll rebellion. Perhaps more importantly it describes freedom.
True freedom. The kind that matters. I am talking about freedom of expression. But, this comes with the responsibility of choosing your words carefully and using them in such a way that they inspire positive change, understanding, and a better society.
At his best, this is the place where Bob Dylan resides. He eschews any semblance of worship. Let’s set that aside. Just spend some time focusing on the message, or like Bruce Springsteen said in his induction speech, open your mind;
The way that Elvis Presley freed your body, Bob Dylan freed your mind.”Bruce Springsteen
While researching this post, I spent some time looking for a quote that captured the essence of how Bob Dylan should be remembered. This quote by filmmaker David Chase captured it well.
You see Michelangelo and Picasso and you read literature. I had some innate inchoate yearning for that, but I never really saw where I would fit in. That’s called art. And then something happened to pop music, which is that it became art under the hand of the Beatles, the Stones, and Bob Dylan and some other people.”David Chase
Bob Dylan is an artist.
Enjoy this series of features shared over the five-year span of Ted Tocks Covers.
Maggie’s Farm – A song so great, Ted Tocks Covers featured it twice.
Here is Bruce Springsteen, who was one of many to be hailed as ‘the next Bob Dylan’. In this video the Boss is inducting Dylan into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Bob’s voice somehow – it thrilled and scared me. It made me feel kind of irresponsibly innocent. And it still does.”Bruce Springsteen
Consider for a moment, that Springsteen’s second album was called ‘The Wild, the Innocent & the E-Street Shuffle’.
Coincidence? I think not.
Naturally, Bob Dylan’s acceptance was very brief and without a whole lot of platitudes. As always, he chose to let the music do the talking.
If you are looking for anything truly profound from Bob Dylan you may need to wait. Here, he summarizes his approach to life in one sentence.
I kind of live where I find myself.”Bob Dylan
If he comes across as a little reluctant to be seen as some sort of mystical guru, perhaps he can be forgiven. He has been imparting his wisdom through his music and thought-provoking lyrics for over 60 years.
You’re going to die. You’re going to be dead. It could be 20 years, it could be tomorrow, anytime. So am I. I mean, we’re just going to be gone. The world’s going to go on without us. All right now. You do your job in the face of that, and how seriously you take yourself you decide for yourself.”Bob Dylan
My recommendation to anyone is to keep people guessing. It has worked for Bob.
Next up in the chronological presentation of year three inductees is Neil Young.
Over the years. Ted Tocks Covers has written 15 posts featuring this artist.
For me, Neil Young was like a rite of passage in a musical indoctrination. Truthfully, I was just one of a throng that numbered well into the millions. I can really identify with this quote by Ray Lamontagne.
I was really lost for a while in my teens. I was angry. But when I found music – Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell – it was a new discovery. It was a door to this other world where I wanted to be. “Ray Lamontagne
It all began in Miss Beber’s grade 9 art class. Entering high school, I was an awkward misfit who struggled with transition. Leaving grade 8 I felt like I was part of something big, but the move to secondary school left me feeling grossly self-conscious. I lacked confidence to a point that on occasion I existed in a near catatonic state. Fortunately, Miss Beber had a way with her students and for some reason her focus, gravitated to me. She taught me art, where in all reality I had no real ability, and more importantly she become a mentor in her other role as an English teacher.
Each day, Miss Beber, allowed us to draw and paint while listening to music. It was here that an older student named Dave brought in ‘Live Rust’. We listened intently as we worked, while Dave professed his admiration. He dared anyone to defy the premise that we were listening to a master at work. I listened and I worked. I briefly lifted my head and nodded in agreement. Our eyes met. He knew he had introduced another fan.
For Neil Young’s part, he resisted the idea that he was at the top of the mountain. He reserved that space for one person.
I will never be Bob Dylan. He’s the master.”Neil Young
As much as Neil Young has always been about being incredibly prolific, much of his art form speaks to the purity of what he was producing. It has to sound good. In many ways, each time he creates, he is preserving a moment.
Back then people closed their eyes and listened to music. Today there’s a lot of images that go with the music. A lot of music is crap and it’s all commercial and the images are all trying to sell the record.”Neil Young
Here are the Ted Tocks Covers features that include Neil Young. Somehow, it seems like I wrote more. Admittedly, they do not (for the most part) include covers or songs he played with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Enjoy!
Neil Young was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Eddie Vedder. Some call Eddie a Neil Young disciple or protégé. Neil Young credits Pearl Jam and Kurt Cobain for inspiring him to rock again. Let’s call it a mutual admiration society.
Like Neil says…
‘Rust Never Sleeps’
He lives by the credo that rock and roll will never die. For Neil Young, these are not just words. It is his mission. Anyone who can’t see the quality and purpose behind his work is willfully ignorant.
Probably wearing a MAGA hat and listening to Kid Rock.
Enjoy this combination of Eddie Vedder’s induction speech and Uncle Neil’s acceptance, that on occasion is laced with Neil’s wit. This is fun to watch because Neil is so comfortable in the moment.
These words from Vedder really struck me.
He taught us a lot as a band about dignity and commitment and about playing in the moment…I’m just glad that he’s still here…some of his best songs are on his last record.”Eddie Vedder
This is so true on many levels.
For me, Neil Young represented an annual pilgrimage from my home town of Acton to Toronto to see Neil Young play a variety of venues in his (sort of0 home city. From 1984 through 1990 I saw Neil play and true to form there was no telling what he was going to bring to the stage. We got a sampling of rock and roll, country, blues, rockabilly, garage band, grunge and even a smattering of new-wave techno. Some sat through it, waiting impatiently for the hits, while others immersed themselves in the quality of the artist who stood before them.
When people start asking you to do the same thing over and over again, that’s when you know you’re way too close to something that you don’t want to be near.”Neil Young
Like Bob Dylan suggested, Neil Young always worked in the moment. As a listener you were invited along for the ride. You could either hop in and appreciate every note, or languish on the side of the road.
Ironically, whoever picked you up eventually was likely listening to Neil Young too.
At least that was the case in Acton..
Next up is Tom Petty, or perhaps more appropriately, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
Ted Tocks Covers has a ‘Tom Petty Rule’. If Ted Tocks features the song and Tom Petty covered it, it shall be shared. It’s that simple.
In short, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are one of the best bands of my lifetime. They represent an example of an act that emerged at the dawn of my musical journey and lasted through to Tom’s sudden death in 2017.
I still struggle to type those words.
But the music lives on. Fortunately, his family and friends in the Heartbreakers are around to ensure that things have been done well and in good taste.
They know that is what Tom would have wanted.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were definitely a band of brothers.
Here is a list of 28 features that look at songs by Tom Petty or include Tom paying respect to an artist he revered. He would often refer to these songs as ‘buried treasures’.
Such a cool guy.
Another song so good, I wrote about it twice.
The first Ted Tocks Covers post ever from January 1, 2018.
Listen to Jakob Dylan as he inducts his friend into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. There is a certain irony as he relates the story of hanging out back stage and in hotels with Tom’s daughters, Adria and Annakim. It’s funny to me that he was looking at them and thinking;
Wow! Tom Petty is your dad.”Jakob Dylan
Here you go.
Typical of Tom Petty, his acceptance is humble and inclusive. He makes sure to share the credit with;
The best fuckin’ band in America.”Tom Petty
Next to The Band, I would agree.
Here is a quote that summarizes pretty much everything Tom Petty ever did.
I don’t see myself as the savior of anything. On one hand, I’m flattered; that’s why it’s so hard to complain. What we’re really striving for is to inspire someone.Tom Petty
Inspire, is what he did, and what he continues to do. That’s his legacy.
Perhaps, Tom’s greatest attribute as a musician was his perfectionist qualities. Here is a great story from Mike Campbell talking about ‘You Wreck Me’ from his acclaimed album, ‘Wildflowers’
Tom and I were tighter than brothers. We shared a dream and a bond that will never go away. I fondly remember working on the song “You Wreck Me” [off Wildflowers] together. I wrote the music and Tom wrote the words. It took us a long time to finish it because he had trouble figuring out the words that he wanted. He kept calling it “You rock me, baby” and would always go, “That’s too generic, that’s not good; I’ll find something better.” Finally he came up with “You wreck me.” We finished the record and I always got the feeling he wasn’t enamored with the song that much. We went on tour a few months later and during the rehearsals he frequently undermined himself and would say things like, “I don’t think we should perform it, I’m still not sure I like it.” We convinced him to put it in the set anyway. Two or three days into the tour we played it and it went down so, so well, because it’s a really engaging and fast song. He came to the drum risers after we finished the song, the crowd was going wild, and he leaned over to me and went, “I get it now, Mike, this is a really good song.”God bless him.”Mike Campbell
Sometimes he just sat back and let the fans decide.
He may not have always been ‘a summer breeze’, but when the wind blew, the spiritual among us recognized it as a gift from whatever deity you choose to follow.
That is a gift that keeps on giving.
Now, for a little more Canadian content. Let’s welcome The Tragically Hip.
We want to bring good music to the people. That’s what it’s all about.”Gord Downie
That’s exactly what they did for parts of four decades. To many, they are Canada’s band and they often reflected Canadian themes in their lyrics. Because Gord Downie is a master lyricist, his prose was often offered in layers. What resided on the surface was often a convenient mask for the true message. For this writer, the underlying theme always became the objective. I wanted to dig deeper. This is what I think Gord was challenging his listeners to do.
I fear, that sometimes the message was lost in the beer swilling cesspool of the ‘Molson’ party scene. Sometimes Gord uttered his open contempt for the ignorance of the audiences who guzzled beer and batted away at beach balls. Frequently, they appeared to be oblivious.
This is the lonely plight of an artist. Gord always soldered on though. He remained undaunted. There was something bigger happening while the ‘music was at work’.
This is where The Tragically Hip really mattered. Yes, they were a great band. Yes, Gord Downie was a phenomenal front man. One of the best ever in my opinion.
They were a one-of-a-kind band. Here is an interesting perspective from Joel Plaskett, taken from a 2016 interview.
Their brew is a totally distinct recipe. What more can you ask for than when you drop the needle on something and you can instantly say, ‘Oh, that’s the Tragically Hip.’ Even though their records are produced differently, you never think, ‘Oh, it could be something else.’Their evolution is remarkable: Play 1989’s Up to Here and this summer’s Man Machine Poem back to back and track the changes.”Joel Plaskett
Here is a list of 15 features Ted Tocks Covers dedicated to focusing on Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip. It is here that I can unequivocally say that I learned something each time, and the urge to continue to explore was impossible to resist.
When The Tragically Hip were honoured by Music Canada with the Juno Humanitarian Award, they were inducted by Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee of Rush. Here is their induction speech.
Alex and Geddy paid tribute to the band’s work as musicians, but at the core of their introduction was the fact each member of The Tragically Hip are just quality human beings.
The bigger the band got, the more they gave back.”Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee
While Gord Downie became the public face, and by virtue of being the frontman he was in essence, the band’s persona, he was by no means The Hip. This speaks to something much bigger. They have carried the torch.
Fortunately, both peers and fans of the band have willingly accepted their role in the many philanthropic pursuits. Here is Sarah Harmer;
We can’t forget to celebrate. This is us honouring the life force. Celebrating is a duty.”Sarah Harmer
This is a perfect segue into one of The Tragically Hip’s most urgent causes. Sarah Harmer and The Tragically Hip connected on many an environmental issue. Here is Gord Downie speaking to the existential link between music and the environment.
Music is the ultimate medium for expressions of love, and those expressions find a beautiful backdrop in the environment. Music is also a popular rallying point — at its central core, it’s a way for people to get in touch with the best parts of themselves and to voice the love in their hearts. And the environment is one of the great loves of our lives — when we think of the best parts of ourselves, the environment is always there, informing us, as a backdrop.”Gord Downie
Speaking to the notion that The Tragically Hip transcended music and moved into many other realms, here is an interesting montage from TSN following the news of Gord Downie’s death.
I will leave the final word to another friend of The Tragically Hip who had the privilege of enjoying a side stage view of this band in action. Dave Bidini often marvelled at their work ethic and how the carefully crafted Hip mystique developed. It was organic. Almost like it had a more cosmic purpose.
The brilliance of the band and their legacy is that they were able to transform what everybody thought of them into something nobody thought of them. That’s beautiful.”Dave Bidini
Much of this occurred through the shamanistic qualities of Gord Downie, but every great front man has the luxury of a solid band behind them. The Tragically Hip was a formidable unit right through to the end.
So, there you have it.
Year three of the Ted Tocks Covers Hall of Fame. Hopefully you enjoyed this fun look back that includes snippets of five years of Ted Tocks Covers posts. There is plenty of great listening here, and more than a few interesting stories.
Listen as you work, play or just take a moment to relax.
It says here, there is no better way to unwind than to sit back and listen to the music play.
Admittedly, this exercise exists only in my mind and on the pages of this blog. But, as these artists have proven, the mind can be a very fertile ground for creativity. My only aim here is to share the brilliance, one post at a time.
In the meantime, please know that I am already planning year four.