RIP Gord Downie

Gord Downie passed away today, which, while not unexpected, is still incredibly sad and heartbreaking. The Tragically Hip are very much Canada’s band and Gord Downie very much emblematic of Canadian music, and, heck, of Canada itself.

Two weeks ago we went to see the documentary Long Time Running, about the Tragically Hip’s last tour. It’s a lovely doc and you should see it. It was the same day Tom Petty died so, you know, pretty emotional day, musically. I can’t imagine how emotional it’d be to watch it now.

Last summer in advance of the last show of that tour, I shared a few Tragically Hip memories on Facebook; I’m gonna share them again here. Copying content is a content marketing sin, but, there’s a decent chance I’ll deactivate that Facebook account in the near future, so I’d rather house that content here.

Here’s what I had to say on August 20, 2016:

  1. In my 12th grade media arts class, we studied the video for “Locked in the Trunk of my Car”. Something to do with visual metaphor on film or something, I don’t remember… we also studied the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” in that same class, so, you know… It was pretty great.
  2. Every time I hear “Ahead by a Century,” I’m immediately transported back to summer 1996 – the summer after I graduated high school. It instantly evokes memories of pool parties, games of Hearts, long goodbyes, my first serious relationship (hey Sheila). And I think “no dress rehearsal, this is our life” was a scary line to think about before heading to college.
  3. Circa 1999, my college buddy Grant posted an ad looking for a roommate. It said, “Looking for a place to happen? Making stops along the way?” (Eventually I became one of those roommates).
  4. In 2001, at the bar we (me, Grant and roommate #2, Joe) frequented, there was a cover band that often played on Friday nights. And often, Bull, the bartender, would get behind the mic for “New Orleans is Sinking” – and riff for ages in the middle of it, on God knows what. The drunker you were, the more entertaining it was… Which was probably the point.
  5. In 2008 the Hip headlined a festival in Belleville, ON. The tickets were my ex’s birthday present – she was the bigger fan than I – but I was excited to finally see them in concert and discover for myself if everyone who ever said, “yeah, the Hip are great but they’re even better live!” was on the mark. They were. Given what’s now happened I’m more glad than ever that I got to see that show.

That same day on Twitter, #7favehipsongs was trending. Here’s what I had to say about that:

  1. Scared
  2. World Container
  3. Wheat Kings
  4. Bobcaygeon
  5. Ahead by a Century
  6. Fiddlers Green
  7. 38 Years Old

Having given it more thought—and honestly, having listened to a lot more Hip in the year since—I’d probably move “Fiddlers Green” or “38 Years Old” out for “Escape is at Hand for the Traveling Man” or “Last of the Unplucked Gems”. But who knows.

Anyway. That’s what I have to say about the Hip. I recommend Long Time Running, it’s a really nice film that captures a nice moment in time when the country came to celebrate a great band and a great Canadian.

Now get out there and listen to some Hip, man.

Into the Great Wide Open

Tom Petty died this week, so just a few personal thoughts:

  1. Shortly after the movie version of High Fidelity came out, I started dating someone, and one of our earliest conversations turned to top five records. I put Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Greatest Hits on my list. Being young and dumb I didn’t think about the fact that there’s a more that goes into a record than just putting a bunch of popular songs on it that span an artist’s or band’s career, which is all a greatest hits record is; I wouldn’t put a greatest hits record on that list today. And yet… tell me that this isn’t, simply, a great fucking album:
    1. American Girl
    2. Breakdown
    3. Listen to Her Heart
    4. I Need to Know
    5. Refugee
    6. Don’t Do Me Like That
    7. Even the Losers
    8. Here Comes My Girl
    9. The Waiting
    10. You Got Lucky
    11. Don’t Come Around Here No More
    12. I Won’t Back Down
    13. Runnin’ Down a Dream
    14. Free Fallin’
    15. Learning to Fly
    16. Into the Great Wide Open
    17. Mary Jane’s Last Dance
    18. Something in the Air

There’s not one skippable song on there, and the order is perfect. Most greatest hits records have one or two songs on them that the band likes but no one else does, and most you can just throw on shuffle and enjoy… this one is just perfect as-is.

  1. This is a great driving album, with “Runnin’ Down a Dream” being the highlight. I remember my friend Grant and I singing along to this on the way up north to his parents’ trailer circa 2001.
  2. I know it’s easy to goof on Tom Cruise, and it’s actually pretty easy to goof on Cameron Crowe now too, but Cruise singing “Free Fallin’” in Jerry Maguire is a pretty perfect match of music and movie.
  3. Speaking of Free Fallin’ (and guys that it’s easy to goof on), John Mayer’s cover of “Free Fallin'” from his Live in L.A. record is pretty superb.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. RIP Tom Petty.