Minus pesky egos, the Gords harmonize just fine
The Gords have lost their original reason to exist, but they’ve since found plenty more. The plan, at first, was for Gordon Lee Worden, Gord Maxwell, and Gord Matthews—two current members of Ian Tyson’s touring band and one recent alumnus of same—to start a cover band focusing on the Canadian country legend’s songbook.
“That was the idea,” Worden explains, on the line from his home in Silverton, Oregon. “We were going to do Ian Tyson songs, but with a lot better singing, ’cause Ian’s voice was slowly going downhill.
“He’d gotten to the point where he couldn’t hold a note,” the singer-guitarist continues. “Word on the street was that Tyson was finished, but he had a really successful operation, and now he’s like the poster boy for vocal surgery. He’s the youngest-sounding guy in the band, and he’s going to be 80 in September.”
Tyson won’t be hanging up his spurs anytime soon. But in the interim the three Gords have won his blessing for their extracurricular activities—even for the Motown-tinged version of his classic “Magpie” found on their self-titled debut—while generating some vocal fireworks of their own.
“The band looked great on paper,” Worden says, “and then when we all got together and started singing, our voices just blended magnificently. That’s the one thing you can’t fake with Auto-Tune and technology: whether you’ve got it or you don’t. So we were pretty excited about that.”
The combination, with two skilled but very different singer-guitarists in Worden and Matthews and an exemplary harmony vocalist in bassist Maxwell, has one obvious template: the Eagles. Only without the drama.
“We’re like a mutual-admiration society,” Worden says, laughing. “And plus we’re all ancient family men, so there are no egos or looking over our shoulders to see if there’s a better offer. I mean, this is pretty much it for us.”
It helps that the three have very clearly defined roles.
“I’d say that Gordie Matthews writes the strangest songs of the bunch,” Worden says of k.d. lang’s former accompanist. “He comes at the minutiae of life from a strange point of view. He has one song called ‘A House, a Woman, a Song’, about how he likes to get out of his house and take a little walk and think about his house, his woman, and his song, so that when he comes back he appreciates them all again.
“And then Maxwell is the most countryish songwriter. He’s also one of the most well-known backup singers in Canada, plus he’s got a career writing educational songs for English-as-a-second-language people. They give him a vocabulary he has to use, and then he writes these songs around that—and some of them are so good I think we should do them in the Gords.”
Worden describes himself as the most personal writer of the three. “I don’t even write a song unless I feel like I have something important to say,” he notes. “To me, the concept is everything.”
And then he tells the Straight something shocking: he usually goes by Lee. But that doesn’t matter, ’cause he’s clearly got what it takes to be a Gord.