#1084: Sometimes We’re Up by The Collectors

Peak Month: April 1970
7 weeks on Vancouver’s CKVN chart
Peak Position #13
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart

Here is another song by Vancouver rock band The Collectors on the Countdown, the second in three days. Their forerunner was The Classics who were a Vancouver group led by Howie Vickers in the mid-60s. The Classics were part of the regular line-up on Let’s Go, a show on CBC TV. Though the Classics released several singles the group needed room to grow and reformed as The Collectors. They would become one of the most innovative of Vancouver’s recording acts through the rest 60s. In the spring of 1967, Vickers was asked to put together a house band at the Torch Cabaret in Vancouver. Along with Claire Lawrence on horns, they recruited guitarist Terry Frewer, drummer Ross Turney and Brian Newcombe on bass. Within a couple of months, fellow Classics member Glenn Miller replaced Newcombe on bass and Bill Henderson, a student at UBC, replaced Frewer on guitars. With Vickers now handling vocals, their sound changed from doing covers of R&B tunes to psychedelic rock. This led them to gigs along the Canadian and US west coast. Their best reception south of the 49th parallel was in California. There audiences welcomed their complex arrangements mixed with harmonies and extended solos and musical ad-libs.

The Collectors issued several singles that were hits in Vancouver and elsewhere in Canada and the US west coast. These included “Looking at a Baby” and “Fisherwoman” (’67), “Lydia Purple” (’68), “Early Morning” (’69) and “I Must Have Been Blind” (’70). After Howie Vickers left the band in 1969 they were in the process of reforming. Before 1970 came to a close they named themselves Chilliwack, a Salish Native Canadian name meaning “valley of many streams.” It is also the name of a city in the Fraser Valley, east of Vancouver. Before the group changed their name they released one last single as The Collectors called “Sometimes We’re Up”.

The single is more of a rock-oriented tune then their recent psychedelic rock singles between 1967 and 1969. The song ponders the roller coaster of emotions in a persons’ life “sometimes we’re up, sometimes we’re down.” The rat-race of modern living and expectations to try to be in on the action and never miss out on what is happening contribute to being “out all the day, out all the night.” And with the frenetic pace and emotional boomerang of life it is hard to figure out what makes the world go round. Communication between people slips up and someone who indicates they’ll meet you at an appointed place is a no show. The band observes “nobody shows, nobody cares, down at the shoreline I just stand and stare.”

Collectors - Sometimes We're Up 45 (London 17383 Canada).jpg

Sometimes we’re up, sometimes we’re down,
what in the world makes the world go round.
Out all the day, out all the night
Jesus Christ knew where it was at alright.

It ain’t where it is where you think it is
if you think you know where it is.
It ain’t where you think it is
when you think you know where it is…

Sometimes I go down to the sea
thinking there’ll be someone waiting for me.
Nobody shows, nobody cares,
down at the shoreline I stand and stare.

In the face of the emotional ups and downs of daily life, the rat race, life can be exhausting. For most of us, after awhile if we say yes to everything, and we’re out all the day and out all the night, we burn the candle at both ends and collapse under our frenzied pace. And even more when people we hope to meet by the shoreline are no-shows. Knowing “where it is…when you think you know where it is” reminds us that what makes for being happy and what we can trust in can be elusive. Too often we make assumptions. What we think we know requires process of reassessing and letting go of the certainties we have about how to make a life that satisfies.

So why do they sing “Jesus Christ knew where it was at alright?” Maybe Jesus Christ, observing the emotional ups and downs of people even two thousand years ago had reason to go into the desert for forty days and forty nights. While in the desert Jesus Christ got a new perspective on what made the world go round. But even then, according to the Gospel writer John, Jesus Christ observed of his earthly existence: “My kingdom…doesn’t consist of what you see around you. If it did, my followers would fight so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But I’m not that kind of king, not the world’s kind of king.” 

The songs’ lyrics contend, “Jesus Christ knew where it was at alright.” The world we live in is, for many people, a fragmented place at odds with their soul’s longing.  The way things are unfolding for us often does not consist of what we envision for ourselves. Our vision of what “heaven,” or a paradise on earth, could be is far from the reality we know. There are religious and spiritual practices that offer individuals ways to detach from the emotional roller coaster of life. These include prayer, meditation and yoga, helping to shift consciousness and awareness to a different kind of inner knowing.

What can we do when we go down to the sea thinking there’ll be someone waiting for us, and nobody shows? Like the singer, we can find ourselves down at the shoreline and stand and stare.  At that point what we are relating to is not the person who failed to show up and spend time with us. Instead, we’re relating to the shoreline, the repetition of the waves, seabirds in flight, driftwood, the sand and the sky. Actually, not a bad way to spend some time, beach time, on one’s own.

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