The Tragically Hip
BBQs, viewing parties, live televised concert goodbye. Today Canada is closed.
Maybe the most fitting headline I saw this morning was from The Washington Post. It read:
“Canada’s unofficial poet laureate is dying. He’s giving one last concert before he goes.”
You know it’s an important Canadian music moment when the CBC preempts their Summer Olympics coverage to broadcast a concert live.
And yet, for all the success of the venerable Canadian band — 8 million records sold — the Hip never really cracked the United States.
But I dare say the fact they didn’t launched them into a realm so legendary The Hip have become our own secret source of national pride.
In an editorial, the Toronto Star wrote: “The Hip’s failure to catch on in the U.S. was once a source of bewilderment for Canadian fans, but it has evolved over the years into a source of pride. The band is of us and ours and will be long after their last concert.”
Jim Cuddy, the frontman of the Canadian band Blue Rodeo, told Maclean’s magazine that “when audiences saw the Hip for the first time, they thought, even subconsciously: ‘Finally, our own band.’ ”
Who doesn’t have a story of some poor musically uneducated foreigner ever so casually asking, “what’s The Hip?” Who hasn’t dug into their cassette collection to pull out “Trouble in the Hen House” triumphantly selecting the best song on the album and pushing play while you watch with glee as they listen to a The Hip for the first time. Secretly wishing you could go back and treat your first listening to The Hip with the gravitas and ceremony your foreign friend received.
Perhaps it’s that their music is so in sync with Canada that by simply labelling a song by The Tragically Hip it becomes Canadiana. Their lyrics range from launching small Ontario towns into the limelight, to profiling Toronto maple leaf hockey players, to telling the story of David Milgaard, a wrongfully accused murder. In fact, I’m pretty sure I know when the last time the Leafs won a Stanley cup thanks to the Hip.
Americans have Folsom prison immortalised in song, we have Millhaven Maximum Security (38 years old).
The references are so effortless. So ingrained in our national zeitgeist it’s sometimes difficult to tell where the the Hip ends end Canada begins.
You can’t deny The Tragically Hip’s influence on Canadian music, and Canadian Modern Rock over the last 32 years.
Bands like Billy Talent took time to thank Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip.
— Billy Talent (@billytalentband) August 20, 2016
— Metric (@Metric) August 20, 2016
— Sam Roberts Band (@samrobertsband) August 19, 2016
We all saw the Arkells and July Talk join forces on the Rock the Shores stage to sing a happy tribute to the Hip with “Music @ Work”
A photo posted by Photography + Graphic Design (@kirstenjamescreative) on
You can even watch the Arkells do it all over again from the Way Home Festival
Perhaps no one put it better than City and Colour’s Dallas Green when he told the Canadian Press, “If you’re a musician and you’re born in Canada it’s in your DNA to like the Tragically Hip.”
Even the Prime Minster of Canada weighs in:
Tonight, Canadians join together in celebration of the Tragically Hip & Gord Downie. Watch their final show, live: https://t.co/zgb9mxzL6z
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) August 20, 2016
The Tragically Hip’s name has become ironically eponymous. Likely, never again will a Canadian band be so hip to define not only generations but become the sound track of a nation – and that truly is tragic.
13 studio albums.
14 Juno Awards.
1 Legendary band.
Throughout the night I will add clips of Zoners who want to share a story of what the Hip means to them. Give me a call and let’s chat it out – 250 475 0913!
Watch the live stream from CBC here:
The Hip played 3 encores, and it looked like the show was never going to stop. But of course it had to end… People in the audience looked stunned, wiping away tears…. In a silent disbelief it was actually over.
That’s all folks.
“He closed both his eyes and sort of gave her a kiss
Said, “Don’t worry, baby, about what you’re going to miss”
There will always be a much, much more than this” –
“Everytime You Go” The Tragically Hip.