Gord Downie’s Coke Machine Glow was released in 2001, in between Music @ Work (2000) and In Violet Light (2002), the ninth and tenth albums by his mighty band of brothers in The Tragically Hip. The first solo project by one of the world’s great wordsmiths, Coke Machine Glow’s sixteen painterly songs were released with an accompanying book of poetry, collectively emanating Downie’s heartrending stories, from the road as from home, in his signature quirk and complex, approachable wit. Twenty years since its release, Coke Machine Glow remains a teetering, charming body of work, never static, shot across its canvas in brilliant glowing embers and warm honey tones.
Now, to mark its 20th anniversary, Arts & Crafts announces a special expanded reissue that posthumously revisits the songs and poetry of this prolific period of Downie’s career. Entitled Coke Machine Glow: Songwriters’ Cabal, the triple-album features the original two-disc set plus a bonus record of twelve unreleased demos, alternate versions, and never-before-heard outtakes – carefully curated by Gord’s “oldest Toronto friend” Josh Finlayson and brother Patrick Downie with Arts & Crafts’ Jonathan Shedletzky – including the ominous “I Stand Before The Songwriters’ Cabal” and two opposing versions of the mysterious “Contact.”
The in-all 28-song collection presents a portrait of Downie with a rarely before heard intimacy, unrefined and dripping in the wildness of the moment. Elegant alternate studio takes of classics like “Vancouver Divorce” and “Lofty Pines” express the fluidity of the family band that comprised the Gas Station recording sessions in Toronto, that May of 2000; while home recordings dated November 1999, Carlaw Avenue, of “SF Song,” “Trick Rider,” and “Chancellor,” and more, spotlight Gord in close communion with his tape recorder and coffee machine. Produced by GD, Josh Finlayson, and Steven Drake, featuring Dale Morningstar, Julie Doiron, Kevin Hearn, Atom Egoyan, Dave Clark, Don Kerr, and more, Coke Machine Glow: Songwriters’ Cabal is a document of Gord at the precipice of his illustrious solo career.
Concurrently, Penguin Random House announces the Coke Machine Glow Audiobook, a complete reading of Downie’s original book of poetry by family members, band members, and friends, like Sarah Harmer, Dan Aykroyd, Ron MacLean, Bruce McCulloch, Don Kerr, and many more, produced by Patrick Downie. Ultimately a book Gord wrote about the distances that bridge and separate us, Coke Machine Glow is bound by the dedication of those he loved and was loved by – a rich, haunting collection that reveals both the public and private selves of Gordon Edgar Downie. In poetry that is urban, gritty and political, romantic and nocturnal, nostalgic and whimsical, Downie allows us a glimpse inside his world, with loved ones carrying the gift of his words onwards.
GORD DOWNIE COKE MACHINE GLOW: SONGWRITERS’ CABAL TRACKLIST
Coke Machine Glow:
2. Vancouver Divorce
3. SF Song
4. Trick Rider
5. Canada Geese
7. The Never-Ending Present
8. Nothing But Heartache in Your Social Life
10. Lofty Pines
11. Boy Bruised By Butterfly Chase
14. Yer Possessed
15. Every Irrelevance
16. Insomniacs of the World, Good Night
1. Vancouver Divorce – Alternate Take
2. Trick Rider – Demo
3. SF Song – Demo
4. Contact – Demo
5. Down Down Down – Demo
6. Putting Down – Demo
7. Chancellor – Demo
8. The Never-Ending Present – Demo
9. I Stand Before the Songwriters’ Cabal – Outtake
10. Contact – Outtake
11. Mystery – Alternate Take
12. Lofty Pines – Alternate Take
Dan Aykroyd, Rob Baker, Andrew Cash, Dave Clark, Julie Doiron, Charlyn Downie, Clare Downie, Clemens Downie, Lou Downie, Mike Downie, Patrick Downie, Paula Downie, Willo Downie, Johnny Fay, Josh Finlayson, Sarah Harmer, Kevin Hearn, Dave “Billy Ray” Koster, Paul Langlois, Ron MacLean, Andy Maize, Bruce McCulloch, Dale Morningstar, Larry Murphy, Andrea Nann, Dr. Pee, Gillian Reiss, Damian Rogers, Gord Sinclair, Kaya Usher.
Photo Credit: Mike Downie