I would never call myself a huge fan of the Tragically Hip. I owned one or two of their albums, I liked their singles, I’ve never seen them play live. There was a time in Ottawa when it was almost hard to avoid it.
But it feels like I’ve known who the are forever. And forever they have always belonged to us. I remember they played SNL once, and it was exciting, but they didn’t seem to yearn for greater success outside this country, and we rewarded them for that.
Hip music is Canada. They talk about our places and our experiences. And Gord Downie’s lyrics are poetry. Sometimes completely nonsensical, and sometimes exactly what you need to hear.
Whenever I hear Wheat Kings or Bobcaygeon, I start picturing myself in a movie, driving down a Canadian highway, prairie skylines along the road, and I wonder what kind of plot I would write.
No, I’ve never been a huge fan of the Tragically Hip, but I do believe them to be a constant in the Canadian consciousness. They are part of the landscape. They love this country like I love this country. And when it was announced that Gord Downie has terminal brain cancer it was felt.
I wish I could write like Gord. It makes no sense but it means something at the same time.
I maintain that Canada breeds great lyricists as well as all the comedians who leave us.
And so tonight Joe and I will join about 30 million others watching the Hip’s last show – probably ever – in Kingston. And I will cry for the loss, not because they are one of my favourite bands, but because it is a loss to my favourite country, and I will miss them when they’re done.
(I have to note that while I searched for a the Wheat Kings video I found this one of the Biebs singing that one. Weird).