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28 October 2011 @ 10:48 pm
Bp's Song of the Week #133: Triumph "Fight the Good Fight" (live)  
“I still believe in the power of truth, that the fire of freedom can burn in the heart of a song…”

If I started quoting Triumph lyrics I’d probably blow out your email box because there’s just so much great stuff that Rik Emmett (guitarist, vocalist) wrote along with Mike Levine (bass) and Gil Moore (drums, vocals).

“Something’s at the edge of your mind, you don’t know what it is
Something you were hoping to find, you’re not sure what it is
Then you hear the music and it all comes crystal clear
The music does the talking, says the things you want to hear
I’m young, wild and I’m free
Got the Magic Power of the music in me”

Seriously, there’s so much great poetry involved. Rik mentions in interviews, that when he joined the band they already had the name picked out and he felt an obligation with such a positive and empowering word that he had to write lyrics to match.

What originally drew me to Triumph though, was a pretty simple: a combination of my brother, Mark, digging them from hearing them on the classic rock station, and an energetic video for “Hold On” on MTV with a great light show and some fiery guitar licks. Today it’s the lyrics that also pull me in:

“Day routine takes your soul, lost without a trace
It holds you down and turns you ‘round and puts you in your place
Another day, another dollar, another pretty face
Another chance to lose yourself in the endless race

Hold On, Hold on to your dreams
Hold On, Even though it seems
Everyone around you has their little schemes
Listen to your heart and hold on to your dreams

Can’t you feel the magic, I can feel it everywhere
Can’t you hear the music there’s something in the air
There’s a celebration deep within a song
Celebrate this feeling, you know it can’t be wrong

Caught up in routine, you got to make it
Time won’t wait for us, we got to make it
Fate gives you the chance, you’ve got to take it
Take it”

In the mid-80s my Dad had our school librarian, Mr. Ashe, make leather belts for Mark and I, with our names on them, I believe, and some design of our choosing. I picked a Flying V guitar because I loved the Dean V style Rik used in the “A World of Fantasy” video.

Many hours were spent on the top bunk of our bunk-beds after he recorded the March 1985 Live Simulcast from San Diego with me air drumming and my brother rockin’ the role of Rik on guitar. That top bunk provided such a great drum riser.

But it wasn’t until Thanksgiving of 1987 that I really became a fan by my own choosing. Pretty much until that time I listened to what he was playing or what we were watching on MTV, but then as I had a walkman and was listening to things when he wasn’t around I was developing some of my own tastes, especially The Beatles (fueled by MTV’s huge promotional push for the CD releases), and it was on a car trip to our grandparents in Florida, NY that I borrowed his copy of Thunder Seven and I was riveted. It’s not as if I hadn’t heard it before, heck we both called the local radio station nightly during their song vs. song boxing-type matches for “Killing Time,” but I had never heard it like this. It opened up a whole new world. I couldn’t necessarily relate to a lot of it lyrically at the tender age of 13, but I could feel the passion and sincerity in the vocal and the music.

“The time we waste on hate, full of anger and jealousy,
The times we act so cruel, all the times you turned on me,
All those lonely yesterdays when we were killing time,
I needed you more than ever, couldn’t you see it in my eyes,
Time was slipping away, passing us by, now I can cry cause it’s gone,
Gone forever my friend and it won’t come again,
It’s moved on and left us behind...”

Thankfully Mark had a number of their cassettes and then eventually I filled in the gaps. It was around this time that I was becoming addicted to Rush as well and the roots of my love of Canadian music started to grow.

I was lucky enough through the college radio station and newspaper to interview Rik (who has always been one of my favorite vocalists and guitarists) in Plattsburgh in 1997. Such a wonderful experience. I wish the transcription and photos were still online on Rik’s official site as it was for many years, but it was removed during a redesign a few years ago. I should find the original files and repost at some point as it was a great conversation.

But my favorite Triumph song has always been, “Fight the Good Fight.” There was a great video for this one as well which MTV used to play the heck out of, but it doesn’t exist online that I can find.

This live version below is a favorite and features some brilliant singing from Rik and guitar work. I won’t detail every aspect that I love about the clip (however, it’s now the vertical stripped spandex pants), but it’s pretty much all of it. The bridge, “Every moment of your lifetime…” is absolutely one of the best musical moments in recorded history, in my opinion.

Fight the Good Fight

Fight the Good Fight
The days grow shorter and the nights are getting long
Feels like we’re running out of time
Every day it seems much harder telling right from wrong
You’ve got to read between the lines
Don’t get discouraged, oh don’t be afraid
We can make it through another day
Make it worth the price we pay

The good book says it’s better to give than to receive
I do my best to do my part
Nothing’s in my pockets, I’ve got nothing up my sleeve
I keep my magic in my heart

Keep up your spirit oh keep up your faith baby
I am counting on you
You know what you’ve got to do
Fight the Good Fight every moment
Every minute, every day
Fight the Good Fight every moment
It’s your only way

All your life you’ve been waiting for your chance
Where you’ll fit into the plan
But you’re the master of your own destiny
So give and take the best that you can

You think a little more money can buy your soul some rest
You better think of something else instead
You’re so afraid of being honest with yourself
You better take a look inside your head
Nothing’ is easy, oh nothing’ good is free
But I can tell you where to start
There’s an answer in your heart
Take a look inside your heart

Every moment of your lifetime
Every minute of every day
Fight the good fight every moment
Make it worth the price we pay

More Triumph:
Hold On
Magic Power
Time Canon/Killing Time – bliss and then some
Lay it On the Line (live 1987) – just listen to that intro vocal = pure magic
Midsummer’s Daydream (live 1987) – 2 minutes of brilliance
A World of Fantasy