Steamboat Springs In the whirlwind, hustle-bustle social scene of the holiday season, which this year saw more people than ever stream into town, you never know who you might brush elbows with in the lift line, lounge or, in my case, living room.
While rumors circled of the Duck Dynasty flock and wild-haired Sam Bush ringing in the New Year at E3 Chophouse’s gala opening downtown, not being in that circle left me to my own devices diving into 2014, leading to one of those scenarios that could only happen in Steamboat.
Turns out, Jim Creeggan, of the Barenaked Ladies, was in town with his family for the holidays, staying at the well-appointed second home of his in-laws. He had a grand old time in this hamlet of ours, enjoying copious snow, sunshine and even an invitation to play in the annual A-B-C hockey tournament with his 9-year-old son Finn (they’re Canucks, after all — they’ll often rustle up games on tour, giving concert tickets to local goalies).
All this got me and our far-from-polished, midlife crisis band El Kabong invited to said house Jan. 1 for a New Year’s party. And there, sure enough, Creeggan grabbed a bass and joined us on the makeshift living room stage, where I made the most of the opportunity.
As an aspiring campfire guitarist and not much more, I’d had their marquee song in my quiver for some time. So we broke it out because if any of us actually had a million dollars, we’d likely spend it playing that song with a member of the Barenaked Ladies.
With the band strumming the monotonous G, C, D progression (it has an E-minor we ignore), we launched in.
The song first came about as an improvisation composed by band members Steven Page and Ed Robertson while working as counselors at a summer music camp. Robertson played it for the campers, randomly listing things he’d buy with a million dollars, then fleshed it out with Page. It’s since become as much of a Canadian icon as Gretzky.
So the same day I got a mullet, I found myself playing “Million Dollars” with Creeggan as my doo-whopping back-up (with additional harmony courtesy of party-goer Sam Pearson). As soon as the first lyric came out, Creeggan laughed and joined in flawlessly, complete with an impromptu chorus about the party’s bacon-wrapped hors d’oeuvres and oysters, which we could eat in the tree fort in the yard.
During those 15 minutes of fame, I thought of a few other ways to spend the money in town, most of which didn’t make it through the microphone.
While it certainly wouldn’t go as far as it did when Barenaked Ladies first recorded the song in 1992, if I had a million dollars to spend in Steamboat, I’d (please voice-over in proper timing and high-pitched tune): Donate it to the Sports Club; build a new road to Emerald Park; build a boat ramp to the Yampa; invest it in our local trails; buy me a Moots (or an Eriksen); get a snowcat for Buff Pass; hire someone to shovel our berms; find a home for our police station; and fish private water all season long.
The list could go on and on, but I didn’t want to bore Creeggan with the nuances of our town. So we wrapped it up with the monkey and the sappy bit about love.
I doubt his standing in with us topped the Champagne powder he skied, the hockey tournament he played in or the town’s genuine good-naturedness he found on every corner. He may even boycott Steamboat for good thanks to my hack job.
But there’s also a slim chance that he liked what he saw here in Ski Town USA, if not what he heard. And if that’s the case, someday, once his eardrums heal, he might even return, be it in a nice reliant automobile like the K Car or a limousine because it costs more.