the story behind: “two of a kind”

As you drive into Goderich, Ontario there is a sign, as is true for many towns and cities, that tells you not only the name of the town but also what it’s known for. Goderich’s distinction is to be “Canada’s Prettiest Small Town”. A bold claim, but it could be true. It was given that distinction by the Queen(!), although searching historical records I couldn’t find any sign that the Queen had actually been to Goderich. A Dutch princess may have visited. I’d say that’s still pretty damn good.

In 2011 Goderich weathered a tornado — a pretty rare weather event in most of Canada — and it has since rebuilt many of the historic buildings that were damaged in that epic storm. It’s also built some new, classically-inspired buildings. There’s a town “square” (it’s actually octagonal) that features a new bandshell for concerts, and it is on the opposite side of the square from the old church. That was inspiration for a line in the song. Also, when we visited, the year was descending into winter so autumnal imagery found its way into the story. It was a cold and blustery day when we were there and many of the trees were clinging to their last few leaves.

We had thought that we were going to write a song about the tornado. It was certainly dramatic enough, and had altered the town in both physical and psychological ways, and maybe that song will get written someday. But, it also felt somewhat like capitalizing on a tragedy to write that kind of song. Gordon Lightfoot can immortalize a disaster brought on by freak weather, but it seemed the height of hubris to assume we could do it justice. Somewhat stymied, we took a break from our research efforts and went to have dinner at West Street Willy’s Eatery.

As we sat down, I overheard this woman behind us who was talking about relationship stuff with her friend. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, it just happened, and from context in the conversation I gleaned that she was trying to choose between two suitors. One of the reasons we had chosen Goderich as a place to visit and research was because we met these identical twin brothers from Goderich while we were at university. They were both great guys, they both had a love of drama, and we each had acted with them in small productions. For some reason it popped into my head, what if the two suitors that this stranger had to choose from were the identical twin brothers we knew?

That was the beginning of the idea for the song. But we had to put a twist in it. The phrase “two of a kind” too naturally points toward the twin brothers, but really it’s a reference to how the narrator (one of the brothers, presumably) feels about the woman he loves who didn’t choose him. Somehow, I feel like that’s the more poignant thought behind the song — that the brothers who should feel that they’re together in this crazy world are actually at odds with each other. And love, by bringing some people together, tears others apart.

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