Post Mon Nov 21, 2011 9:20 am

Tournament of Hearts - The Weakerthans

Artist: The Weakerthans
Song: Tournament of Hearts
Album: Reunion Tour
Why I Picked It: It's a song about unrequited love using Curling terminology. It doesn't get more Canadian than that. It's so incomprehensible to non-curlers that I'm actually going to put up the lyrics and footnote them for you with explanations.


Tournament of Hearts1

Now the lounge is full of farmers for the 7:30 draw2
Teammates all left before they had to buy a round3
When they pull the 50/504 and I've lost again, I'll go
Maybe have one more brown one for the snowy road5
All the championship banners going yellow on the wall
And my name when it gets closer to last call5

So Elvira brings my bottle, hold it up and let it bend5
Figures of two rinks battling an extra end6
And I'm peeling off the label5 as they peel a corner guard7
Dance down the sheet to the tune of "Hurry, Hurry Hard"8
And my popcorn squeaks with questions9, wonders why I'm not at home
Where you wait beside a silent telephone, doodle circles within circles all alone
Have to stop myself from climbing on the table full of empties5 to yell:

"Why, why can't I draw right up10 to what I want to say?"
"Why can't I ever stop where I want to stay?11"
I slide right through the day, I'm always throwing hack weight12
Right off, no never never ever ever13
Right off, no never never ever never
Right off, no never never never ever
Right off, no never ever never ever
Right off, no never never ever ever
Right off, no never never ever never
Right off, no never never never ever
Right off, no never ever never ever

Now the senior bonspiel14 winners circa 1963
Are all staring, glaring disapprovingly
From their frame in that old photograph
And I know you're out their waiting
For an answer I can't give you
so tell me,

"Why, Why can't I draw right up to what I want to say?"
"Why can't I ever stop when I want to stay?"
We roll right through our years
We rip right through our months
We slide through our days
I'm always throwing hack weight
Right off, no never never ever ever
Right off, no never never ever never
Right off, no never ever never ever
Right off

1 The Tournament of Hearts is the Canadian National Women's Curling Championship.
2 Most curling clubs have very early morning "draws," which are essentially random assignments of teams to play each other.
3 Beer is a rather integral part of curling for people. Some clubs, I'm sure, still let you drink on the ice, though most don't, and it's been relegated to an "after" sort of thing (probably a "before" thing too). Most really skilled curlers won't drink before, but good lord, watch them after a game.
4 A 50/50 is a fundraiser, typically. Everybody can buy tickets, as many as they like, usually on a "$2 apiece, or 3 for $5" sort of scale. One, and only one, ticket is drawn at the end, and the winner gets half of the money raised, while the other half goes to the club. 50/50.
5 Have I mentioned how important drinking is to curling?
6 A "round" in a curling game is called an "end", and because it's possible to get to the end of 10 ends without a winner, sometimes you have to play an extra to get that winner.
7 A "guard" is a rock sitting out in front of the rings, to protect rocks behind it from being taken out. A "corner guard" is one placed intentionally off to one side of the centre line.
8 "Hurry, hurry hard!" is an exhortation to sweep, well, hard. The sweepers do their sweeping in front of the rock, because you're not allowed to touch it. What it achieves is that it melts the ice just very slightly, which causes the rock to maintain its speed (instead of slowing down), and to run straight (instead of curling).
9 Popcorn is typically available at most curling clubs, and at some places (because of how cheap it is), you don't even have to pay for it, they just toss big bowls out on the tables.
10 A "draw" is a controlled weight shot, intended to stop inside the rings under its own power; it's not a take-out.
11 This line's a little ambiguous, but it sounds to me like the curling reference is to a "hit-and-roll", which is a take-out shot where you hit one side of the rock, causing your rock to "roll" across the rings. Usually you want the rock to stop in a certain place, often behind a guard. A beautiful hit and roll.
12 "Hack weight" is the lightest possible "take out" weight, and it refers to throwing the rock just hard enough to slide out the back, plus about five feet. It will softly bump out one rock sitting in the rings, and the low weight allows it to curl behind guards (to an extent), and makes it easier to control. It's a very hard weight to throw properly, but if you're trying to draw, the shot will be too hard, and you might hear...
13 "Right off, no, never ever", is the opposite of "hurry, hurry hard". It means stop sweeping immediately, and often has the implication that you should have known it was too hard.
14 A bonspiel is a curling tournament, usually without rankings, but the very lowest level ranked tournaments start here, as you typically have to win some bonspiels to get to playdowns, (win playdowns to get to Provincials, win Provincials to get to Nationals, etc etc).