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Old 11-14-2008, 12:40 AM   #1
Nightingale
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Default Who is The Watchman?

Okay, Kefera's posting of "The Watchman" in small talk and his pondering at the end of the song about, 'WHO IS THE WATCHMAN" made me think and wonder myself.

The song has such an emotional punch to it. The lyics, subject matter and melody combine to make it one of my favorites.
I get very lost in the feel and melody of this song...it really does sweep me away while I am listening to it.

To me, the watchman is ourselves. We are spiritual beings that have come to the physical world and we are bound by all the trappings of this kind of existence.

We have to overcome so much fear, ego, greed, lust, envy...(you fill in the blanks ) to ever trust enough to experience the different aspects of life.
It's how we learn and grow within our spirits, and yet, we have to conquer all the emotions that our physical world brings to us in order to do that.
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"Tiime has been wastin' away...You know time doesn't wait for nobody to find what they're after
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Old 11-14-2008, 12:46 AM   #2
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Default Re: Who is The Watchman?

I think the song is saying that when we leave our bodies and our spirits are free again, that is when we are really free to express what we have learned and experience the lessons and love we developed during the physical life time.

Sure, it feels good "knowing the watchman's gone" because we no longer have the self judgements and critical eye for all we have done or haven't done.

We can grow, and experience love and our 'self' in ways that we couldn't when trapped in the physical world.

What do you think?
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"Tiime has been wastin' away...You know time doesn't wait for nobody to find what they're after
It just keeps on rolling down the deep canyons
And through the green meadows
into the broad ocean..."

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Old 11-14-2008, 02:24 AM   #3
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Default Re: Who is The Watchman?

Not meaning to cast a dark pallor on this thread, but this song, to me, is an acknowledgement of our own mortality.

There are a few references to mortality like "a train down at the station come to carry my bones away" and "if you find me feeding daisies." I get the feeling that the Watchman is like an Angel of Death. Sadly, most of us have a deep and personal pain of experiencing tragedy in our lives where perhaps a friend, family member or loved one who had dreams never realized due to a sudden, or premature end to someone's earthly exisitence. A Watchman being "out, kicking your dreams about" is an acknowledgement of these sad happenings. Gordon goes on to warn us "You better beware, knowing the Watchman's always there."
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Old 11-14-2008, 07:45 AM   #4
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Default Re: Who is The Watchman?

You may be right Anne & Tim ??

Another great question to ask Gord. I myself have no idea who The Watchman is.
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Old 11-14-2008, 10:13 AM   #5
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Default Re: Who is The Watchman?

Gord has often prefaced the song by saying, "Here's one that's got some things to say, it's pretty deep." I have always taken a more literal reading on it. To me, the Watchman is all of the limitations that we have in this world- our jobs, the government, debt, any type of oppression. When the watchman is gone, we are free to roam the world and live as free as we please.

This song is in my top five Lightfoot tunes and I'm glad he plays it at almost every show. The guitar solo and swelling strings are beautiful. Every time I hear it I think of how I'd love to be able to follow "the golden sun" and shuck all of my cares. I think the only things that might have kept it from becoming a hit are the length and the word "bullshit". Anyhow, it's a hit in my book.
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Old 11-14-2008, 10:32 AM   #6
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Default Re: Who is The Watchman?

"swelling strings"...great choice for adjective...often time, unfortunately Mike has been down low in the mix as I always look forward to that colouring live...great takes on the lyrics, all...i'd just thought it was a train song, lol
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Old 11-14-2008, 01:45 PM   #7
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Default Re: Who is The Watchman?

The notion of recurring themes has been brought up more than once on corfid, and as I read this post I thought about the interesting parallels between The Watchman's Gone and A Lesson In Love.

In The Watchman's Gone, Gordon sings about following the golden sun in . . .

the past tense..."we too have followed the golden sun"
the present tense..."as I leave you in the sunset"
and future tense..."if you live to follow the golden sun"

. . . combined with the plausability of eternity, or having passed on..."if you find me feeding daisies."

Compare that with A Lesson In Love, in which we find a striking familiarity with the lyrics "we will meet you in streets of gold, where eternity begins."

What's interesting is that both songs also include references to the moon . . . where A Lesson In Love could almost be a subplot of The Watchman's Gone.

The Watchman's Gone..."and leave me be, watching the moon roll by"

and

A Lesson in Love..."you look like the moonglow that follows me home," where the moonglow is in and of itself a kind of watchman.

What to make of all of this? In The Hour interview Gordon did with George Stroumboulopoulis, George tells Gordon "you're closer to the end than you are to the beginning. Are you good with aging?" To which Gordon replies "it doesn't bother me at all" and then he makes reference to being out cold in the hospital with "no worries, no cares."

So perhaps the lyrics above reflect accepting fully the fact that at some point in time we all will pass. But during the time that we do have, live your best life, for you. Said more simply, you never know when your time is up, so make the very best of it while you have it.
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Old 11-14-2008, 03:17 PM   #8
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Default Re: Who is The Watchman?

Dear Deep Thinkers,

What significance do you place on the use of the number 21 ?

"Two engines on, 21 coaches long
End to end 21 coaches thin"

Why not 41, 31, 61, etc. ?

Last edited by RM; 11-14-2008 at 03:21 PM.
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Old 11-14-2008, 03:47 PM   #9
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How about gambling? Life is all about gambling after all. Every time we make an important decision.
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Old 11-14-2008, 04:00 PM   #10
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Default Re: Who is The Watchman?

higher numbers would negate the 'thin' concept of a 'short' train.
and 21 may just be easier to wrap the tongue around..
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Old 11-14-2008, 04:26 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charlene View Post
higher numbers would negate the 'thin' concept of a 'short' train.
and 21 may just be easier to wrap the tongue around..
Well thank you for your contribution, but I'll just wait to hear from the Deep Thinkers.

But thanks anyway.
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Old 11-14-2008, 04:32 PM   #12
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Old 11-14-2008, 05:57 PM   #13
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Default Re: Who is The Watchman?

His name was Al Hurst actually. But that's not the answer you're looking for.

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Old 11-14-2008, 06:19 PM   #14
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Default Re: Who is The Watchman?

Hmm, well these have definitely been interesting interpretations on The Watchman. As far as the song being very spiritual, could it be that the watchman is God? When he's gone, it's over, you're feeding daisies and exist with him on another plane.
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Old 11-14-2008, 08:30 PM   #15
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Default Re: Who is The Watchman?

what happened to Al?. he hasnt visited here for a while
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Old 11-15-2008, 02:04 AM   #16
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Default Re: Who is The Watchman?

Hi Tim,
Your thoughts about the song make sense to me. We all get reminded that our lives can change in a moment with no warning at all. When we lose someone or face our own mortality it feels very much like 'the watchman' is looking over your shoulder or has come and touched your life in a profound way.

Spocksbrain, all the limitations of our responsibilities and the expectations or needs of others is a very good analogy of a watchman. I see what you mean...we do move to freedom when those factors are removed from our lives.
Do you really think that the word bullshit was so offensive that it kept this great song from being a hit?
I love this song...it's beautiful in every way a song can be
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"Tiime has been wastin' away...You know time doesn't wait for nobody to find what they're after
It just keeps on rolling down the deep canyons
And through the green meadows
into the broad ocean..."

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Old 11-15-2008, 02:15 AM   #17
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Default Re: Who is The Watchman?

Oh, you two, jj and Jesse J. You are the ones that probably know who the watchman really is but just won't say.

Oh linda, your comparisons are right on! I think the song has that mood to it in places. Life is short and should be lived to the fullest before the watchman takes it away.
Easy to understand but sometimes very hard to actually live, eh?

RM....21 okay, deep thinking here....2 plus1 is 3 and three represents the trinity...maybe a symbol or clue to the spiritual message of this song.
Or...it could be that 21 just popped out of his mouth when he was singing it.
STOP PICKING ON CHAR...LOL.
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"Tiime has been wastin' away...You know time doesn't wait for nobody to find what they're after
It just keeps on rolling down the deep canyons
And through the green meadows
into the broad ocean..."

G. Lightfoot "Tattoo"
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Old 11-15-2008, 06:18 AM   #18
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Default Re: Who is The Watchman?

Quote:
Originally Posted by joveski View Post
what happened to Al?. he hasnt visited here for a while
Last I heard he had moved to North Carolina and had changed careers to something closer to his Member Name. My impression was that:

The watchman's out
Kickin'the bums about
The watchman's out
Kickin' your dreams about


He sounded well.

Bill

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Old 11-15-2008, 06:25 AM   #19
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Default Re: Who is The Watchman?

Quote:
Originally Posted by RM View Post
Dear Deep Thinkers,

What significance do you place on the use of the number 21 ?

"Two engines on, 21 coaches long
End to end 21 coaches thin"

Why not 41, 31, 61, etc. ?
I'm not too deep but isn't it "21 coaches bend" as in bending round the curves in the track ?

Bill
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Old 11-15-2008, 09:37 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BILLW View Post
I'm not too deep but isn't it "21 coaches bend" as in bending round the curves in the track ?
According to Wayne Francis' site, it's "thin". I had thought it was "been". The lyrics on this site say "bend". Maybe somebody could check the actual LP lyrics. My copy was stolen.
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Old 11-15-2008, 10:40 AM   #21
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Default Re: Who is The Watchman?

maybe he was settled with his pen by the tracks when he wrote this verse (of the entire set of lyrics for the tune) and was counting boxcars and decided to throw it in...i always try predict the # of boxcars based on the # of engines...whether it's a train out back or when i'm at a crossing listening to tunes...it's a fun game actually...i'm sure i'm probably wrong about the origin of '21' but it is possible...like Gord has often replied when asked about certain phrases, "it worked, it's just a lyric"

jj (another of the shallow thinkers)
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Old 11-15-2008, 11:03 AM   #22
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Default Re: Who is The Watchman?

"The watchman's out
Kickin'the bums about
The watchman's out
Kickin' your dreams about"

About a year before this song came out there was a good movie "Emporer of the North" that was released about a vicious train watchman and a bum that challanged him to throw him off of a frieght train headed for Oregon in the North West in the thirtees. I always wondered if Gord saw that movie before he wrote that song. It would be something if the watchman was actually "Erniest Borgnine" .
Bill
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Old 11-15-2008, 12:50 PM   #23
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Default Re: Who is The Watchman?

this shallow thinker just gave a listen and it's 'bend'..not 'thin'
end to end, 21 coaches bend.. (could be 'been' but bend rhymes with end..)
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Old 11-15-2008, 01:15 PM   #24
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[QUOTE=Nightingale;
Or...it could be that 21 just popped out of his mouth when he was singing it.
STOP PICKING ON CHAR...LOL.[/QUOTE]

sometimes it just fits...i think i've heard him say that about other lyrics/words..

yeah - stop picking on char!
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Old 11-15-2008, 04:32 PM   #25
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Default Re: Who is The Watchman?

I am with the camp that suggest we are the "watchman" in a spriitual sense. The 21 reference appears more of a filling lyric without signifigance......

Doug
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