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A Canadian Tragedy

Banes at 12:00AM, Aug. 18, 2016
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(This one is not comics related).

If you're not Canadian, or spent some time here, it's fairly unlikely that you've heard of the Tragically Hip. It's not impossible, of course, and you may have heard of them recently, with the band going on its farewell tour after more than 30 years together.

And if you are Canadian, it's pretty unlikely that you DON'T know of them. Again, it's possible, since the band's heyday was way back in the 90's. But in Canada, they've become an Institution, on the level of maybe the Rolling Stones or Bruce Springsteen.

In their day, they were probably the biggest rock band in this country, and have always been notable for their relative lack of fame outside Canada. Though I was personally never a serious fan, The Hip (as everyone calls them) have always been on my radar. They were a massive mainstream group here…and their music is actually cool.

Unlike some Canadian musicians like Neil Young, the Barenaked Ladies, and RUSH, the Hip truly belonged to Canada. I don't know how else to say it: they have their fans all around the world, but they're HUGE in Canada.

Gord Downie, the lead singer, has a very unique, rockin' voice and writes fantastic lyrics. From everything I've heard, he's a fantastic person, genuine, giving and humble. There's an interesting quiver to his singing voice that's unmistakable.

I've heard the band compared to REM, which is a fair comparison. Interesting rock melodies, solid grooves, and smart, evocative words.

The Hip will play their final show this weekend, after a long tour of Canada. They have been pretty tireless working the road over the years; they even came to my little town back in the day, and it was a huge event here. The first time I ever saw people camping out on the sidewalk to buy tickets for something.

The reason they're hanging it up is that Gord Downie has been diagnosed with brain cancer. It's heart wrenching, even to a casual fan like me - and also kind of beautiful, that he's been able to spend these months playing these shows and saying goodbye to his scores of fans.

Some of my personal favorite Hip songs:

Bobcaygeon (great bassline, and the name of a city in Ontario)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofChsLBfBp0

Something On (so damn catchy, and the first Hip song I knew)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wmb3A_M2CW8

Scared (perfect, simple structure, such lovely lyrics and melody)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieQH6X_XBJo

There are so many others. Argh. It's a sad time up North right now.

Anyway, Godspeed to Gordon Downie, and farewell to the Hip!

comment

anonymous?

Gunwallace at 12:44PM, Aug. 21, 2016

This made the NZ newspapers and news websites today. http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/music/83405731/canadians-bid-adieu-to-beloved-band-tragically-hip-whose-singer-is-dying

ashtree house at 11:17AM, Aug. 18, 2016

Breaks my Canadian Heart </3! I am actually going to a concert screening this weekend to watch the concert, drink and support brain cancer research!

shastab24 at 10:24AM, Aug. 18, 2016

I heard of them while living in Humboldt County. Can't say I've ever listened to them, though.

KimLuster at 4:27AM, Aug. 18, 2016

Wonderful piece...! I'd never heard The Hip before - just listened to some of their music... They are good - the comparison to REM is a good one!! Cancer - when your own body goes haywire...! We've lost people to it; incl. our best friend 8 years ago...


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