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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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:
- World Container
- Wheat Kings
- Ahead by a Century
- Fiddlers Green
- 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.