How I Learned to Love the Tragically Hip and Still Be Punk
August 10, 2016 5:37 AM   Subscribe

"He talks about music in a way that makes you believe that maybe it can do some good in the world." Damien Abraham, lead singer of Toronto punk band F*cked Up, recounts coming to terms with loving the Hip and his unexpected friendship with Gord Downie. (slVice)

As the Tragically Hip's final tour winds to its close in the wake of front man Downie's terminal cancer diagnosis (previously on the Blue here), the CBC is broadcasting their final concert live from Kingston across the country August 20th.

Are you one of the projected 10K + people descending on Kingston that night? Please be sure to read and keep an eye on the city's page about public safety and traffic here.
posted by Kitteh (100 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
As an American looking at this from the outside, I find this fascinating.

Even though I listen to CBC Radio 3 Podcasts every couple months for the past few years, I never hadn't known the ubiquity of the Tragically Hip has on contemporary Canadian music. The comparison of the Hip to Bruce Springsteen in the USA made me grasp the Hip's impact.

On my anecdotal note, the only song that I know of theirs is the Morning Moon (youtube video of the song)a catchy summer tune which was playing non-stop on a Windsor station that we picked up while camping on Lake Erie (NW Ohio) in summer 2009. It remains as their only song on my hard drive.

In the age of globalization and mass popular culture, there are still bands like the Tragically Hip (and from what I've heard Sloan too?) that are widely popular in Canada and unknown in American pop culture.
posted by fizzix at 6:44 AM on August 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


Last show is the night of my bday party. Bitter sweet.
posted by Theta States at 6:46 AM on August 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


I live in Kingston--and oh man, I suspect the 20th is going to be something of a zoo--and I am also an American who is fascinated by how deeply the Hip are part of the Canadian musical landscape. My Canadian husband argues that Sloan has just as much of a musical resonance as the Hip does (they did play a free show at our local arts festival in late June that had that tiny park jam-packed!). For me, it's all very interesting. Especially neither of those bands ever cracked the US at all. I've read various accounts that the Hip in particular didn't much want to do what it took to get in the US market (SNL might be the most high profile they ever were) .
posted by Kitteh at 7:00 AM on August 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


Click, read, oh look - a link to one of my favorite songs... click (lost for 3 hours down the rabbit hole of the Tragically Hip)... Have not finished the article... don't dare click again - I'll never get anything done today.
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:16 AM on August 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


I bet at least one Kingston city official has woken up from a nightmare in which the Hip's last show wound up falling on the same weekend as Queen's homecoming.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:27 AM on August 10, 2016 [10 favorites]


Oh, thank god, it isn't. But that is definitely when the students start coming back into town. Shepherd and I might go to see all the people but we are not staying for the actual broadcast. I am hearing that, no surprise, all Kingston hotels are booked solid, but ones in Brockville and Belleville are now booked solid for this as well.
posted by Kitteh at 7:42 AM on August 10, 2016


I wouldn't say the Hip *never* cracked the US, as I'm pretty sure singles from Day For Night and Trouble at the Henhouse got college-radio play in the mid-90s, but when American radio turned to the Bizkits and Linkins that window closed.

Although I can say for certain that they toured America supporting Music @ Work, because I was there to see them when they played NYC's Summerstage in Central Park.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 8:06 AM on August 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I got dragged to a stop on the Fully Completely tour under duress in 1993 and have since been a huge fan. What a tremendous band. The Springsteen comparison might be good for scale, but their true analogue is a Canadian R.E.M.: the same sense of creative restlessness, the same folk-rock based mythos, the same kind of art weirdo frontman.
My heart sunk when we lost Bowie and Prince, but for those of us that saw Downie as a surrogate for ourselves: arty and a bit weird but by no means a superhuman alien (like Bowie or Prince) this one is going to hurt way way more.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:25 AM on August 10, 2016 [22 favorites]


I'm obviously not very familiar with their catalog (my husband is not a Hip fan; he's a Sloan guy), but where would you even start?
posted by Kitteh at 8:31 AM on August 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Day For Night (to me) is them at the top of the mountain, firing on all cylinders, and hitting all the bases of stuff they were known for.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:37 AM on August 10, 2016 [8 favorites]


And other cliches as well.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:38 AM on August 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


Their live performances, are a good place to start.
posted by h00py at 8:43 AM on August 10, 2016


Live can be off-putting to new fans though unless you're actually at the show. Especially in later years Gord became real shouty which is exciting when you know the song but not so great if you're hearing it for the first time.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:45 AM on August 10, 2016


Ah maybe. That's how I discovered them, though. I listened to their albums after falling down a youtube concert rabbit hole (after having found out about them by a Pittsburgh writer named Kathy-Jo on usenet) and although I did like them the albums never really reached the heights of their live performances, to my mind anyway. I guess first impressions matter.
posted by h00py at 8:52 AM on August 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm obviously not very familiar with their catalog (my husband is not a Hip fan; he's a Sloan guy), but where would you even start?

I'd suggest Yer Favourites, a two-and-a-half hour double CD greatest hits collection.
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 8:59 AM on August 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


They definitely had some play in the U.S., but mostly in the places that you'd expect. I loved the Hip when I was growing up in central/western New York, and I'm happy that I've been able to see them here in Washington, DC, twice in the last 10 years. Both times seemingly half the crowd was wearing Buffalo Sabres gear.
posted by AndrewInDC at 9:00 AM on August 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


Every country has artists that "American Popular Music" doesn't get or go for, this is a feature, not a bug, and one we should be proud of.
posted by Cosine at 9:01 AM on August 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


but for those of us that saw Downie as a surrogate for ourselves: arty and a bit weird but by no means a superhuman alien (like Bowie or Prince) this one is going to hurt way way more.

The thing about Downie is that you can imagine sitting in your garage on those rickety old foldable lawn chairs drinking beer out of the 24 of stubbies you keep in your garage fridge while the local kids play street hockey.
posted by srboisvert at 9:04 AM on August 10, 2016 [8 favorites]


Yeah, this is not to say that the US has never heard of the Hip; it's more to say that the Hip is entirely uniquely Canadian in a way that the US hasn't embraced (and shouldn't have to). I've been doing some digging and their albums have charted in the US, but in the high 100's.
posted by Kitteh at 9:06 AM on August 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm partial to Road Apples and Fully Completely ("Fifty Mission Cap"), mostly because they take me back to my first two years in university. I went and saw the Hip on Seabird Island outside of Vancouver for the Fully Completely tour (I think it was a festival, actually) and Gord Downie ran around the stage like a chimpanzee. There was a huge traffic jam getting off of the island so we gave up and slept our VW van. When we woke up everyone was gone.
posted by My Dad at 9:09 AM on August 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's not that The Hip never played in the States - setlist.fm has more US dates than Canadian - it's how they were received. For example, the 1999 Phantom Power tour. They played the 9:30 Club in DC (capacity 1,200) and the Fillmore in SF (1,150) and the Roseland in Portland (1,400). Then they come home and sell out two nights in GM Place in Vancouver (18,630) and two nights in the Calgary Saddledome (19,829) and so on through the country, then go back to the US and play for 2,200 in the Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC.

In the US, they had the profile of a successful college radio indie band, in Canada they were arguably the biggest rock band for a decade.

I wonder if that's where the humility came from.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 9:15 AM on August 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


Yes, but Canada has a lot fewer large cities than the US, so that's not the best comparison. A Canadian band can really cover a lot of ground in the US for tour dates, but not so much here.
posted by Kitteh at 9:17 AM on August 10, 2016


In my rush to embrace punk, I ended up throwing out a lot of culture that I was thankfully able to rediscover later.

I knew a lot of people who did this. I love punk rock, but I refused to throw the baby out with the bathwater and abandon all the other (often very 'un-punk') stuff I loved. This made a lot of people think I was a weirdo. And what I've heard of the Hip is pretty damn good.
posted by jonmc at 9:23 AM on August 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


What punk was rebelling most against was the monoculture and its limited bandwidth. Unfortunately that got confused by a lot of people with hating whole genres.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:25 AM on August 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


Canada takes really good care of their bands, punk or otherwise.

My mom's people lived in central Vermont, not too far from the Canadian border, so when I was 17, we took a weekend trip and drove up to Quebec City, After dinner, they let us kids loose. I found this biker/rock&roll bar called L'Arlequin (IIRC) and walked in and had a beer. The big video screen was playing the AC/DC, Kiss and the rest of the usual suspects. Then Triumph's "Follow Your Heart" came on and the place went apeshit. Years later, I told this story to a Canadian-raised MeFite and he said "Oh yeah, those guys never have to buy their own drinks again. Same with April Wine, Max Webster and the rest..."
posted by jonmc at 9:38 AM on August 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


My Canadian husband argues that Sloan has just as much of a musical resonance as the Hip does

I love Sloan, I love the hip but... just... no. Your husband is beyond wrong on this one. So wrong.

The hip reaches a far wider fan base and they've got like 10 years more over Sloan.
The hip are on so many different radio stations.
The hip write about CANADA... Sloan writes about witty [whatever].
You say "the hip" in Canada and EVERYBODY knows them... You say Sloan and people (outside of 90s alternative fan girls / fanboys) are all "uh who now?"

Just.. No.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:48 AM on August 10, 2016 [14 favorites]


Yeah, I would also argue that Sloan are nowhere near as influential as the Tragically Hip. For example, about a decade ago I was working with a colleague about ten years younger than I was — he would have been in his mid-twenties at the time. Anyway, we were planning an event, and were driving around picking up stuff. I wanted to play the Tragically Hip, but he, being from Prince George, begged me to turn it off. "The Tragically Hip is all anyone ever listens to... I can't take it anymore."

I don't think he would have heard of Sloan.
posted by My Dad at 9:54 AM on August 10, 2016


> Same with April Wine, Max Webster and the rest..."

A friend of mine has a great story about hiking two hours to the only bar that was anywhere close to where his tree-planting camp was (i.e. both were in the middle of nowhere). This was a bar that was most easily accessible by flying boat. And it turned out that April Wine was playing that night.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:56 AM on August 10, 2016 [11 favorites]


Sloan started out as a Halifax band, which, I think kept them at a bit of a disadvantage. But beyond that, except for One Chord to Another or Navy Blues, they never really had a chart-friendly album (Wikipedia) the way the Hip did, and certainly not with as much frequecy: the Hip have had an insane number of top-of-the-chart releases (Wikipedia). Sloan toured a lot too, but nowhere near as relentlessly as the Hip did. My friends and I got to the point where we were burned out on Hip tours and gigs, they were so frequent.

I personally prefer Sloan over the Hip a lot of the time too, but every Canadian between 30 and 50 has a copy of Road Apples somewhere.
posted by bonehead at 10:25 AM on August 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


I wouldn't say the Hip *never* cracked the US, as I'm pretty sure singles from Day For Night and Trouble at the Henhouse got college-radio play in the mid-90s, but when American radio turned to the Bizkits and Linkins that window closed.

There's a whole culture of Canadian alt-pop/alt-folk/alt-country that never seems to click south of the border, though artists like Bruce Springsteen are in roughly the same area. Occasionally, like the Hip, one or two will have a hit (Kathleen Edwards with Failer, The New Pornographers, The Cowboy Junkies), but for the most part that kind of music allows an artist a working class life in Canada, without a lot of success south of the border. Sloan is actually a good example of this kind of band, or Broken Social Scene. It's a lot rougher-sounding than US pop, usually with strong folk and/or countryish roots.

It's not for lack of exposure either, Letterman seemed to love this style and these artists often get exposure on things like SNL as well, but it never seems to result in sustained success in the US. The Hip is just the most famous of these, certainly in their generation.
posted by bonehead at 10:36 AM on August 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


I grew up outside of Buffalo. It turns out my childhood/adolescence was /far/ more similar to that of somebody who grew up in Ontario/Toronto than of somebody from New York or even Syracuse. It's funny to sing the Marineland song with a Toronto native while a New Yorker looks at you like you're nuts, but I digress...

The Hip were always around, kind of like a hometown band until you crossed the border to Niagara Falls and holy shit you guys really like The Tragically Hip over here, huh? I saw them at least once at Darien Lake in the 90s. I think Senor Cardgage's characterization of "the Candian R.E.M." works, but might be just a little too on the nose.

Learning about Gord's cancer was a gut punch, but in this weird way where you don't really feel like you earned it. Those fuckers up north must really be having a bad time of it.

I'm gonna go listen to "Ahead by a Century" now.
posted by quite unimportant at 10:48 AM on August 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


It's not that The Hip never played in the States - setlist.fm has more US dates than Canadian - it's how they were received. For example, the 1999 Phantom Power tour. They played the 9:30 Club in DC (capacity 1,200) and the Fillmore in SF (1,150) and the Roseland in Portland (1,400).

I wouldn't necessarily assume that this implies even 1000-1500-capacity-concert level of success in the US. I went to see bands that played giant stadiums like this in the US, in small venues like this when I lived there. I went to concerts around Boston and in DC, including at the 9:30 Club (though my understanding is they moved...I'm not sure if I was in the old or new venue). Anyway, the audience was 85-90% expat Canadians, usually. These concerts were big news on listservs for expat Canadians and they were things everyone went to because you're never going to get this close to the band at home. So yeah, if it's a 1200 person venue and 250? of the people there are non-Canadian, it's not clear what level of US success this actually represents.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:51 AM on August 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


Re: Canada vs. US reach - I was actually banking on this now that we're stateside and hoping they would roll through town so I could catch them at a small venue. Sadly this is not to be...

Re: The Hip == REM

This is so true. Especially that REM wrote about Americana the way the Hip wrote about Canadiana.

Other honourable substitute:
Ron Sexsmith = Rufus Wainright
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:51 AM on August 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


but for the most part that kind of music allows an artist a working class life in Canada, without a lot of success south of the border.

I know it has its flaws, but it's still amazing that there is a Canadian Council for the Arts system to provide funding for Canadian musicians. It shows a dedication to fostering homegrown talent, regardless of whether or not they are appealing to the US. I don't think we have an analog back home.
posted by Kitteh at 10:55 AM on August 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


Ben Raynor wrote a nice piece about The Hip in The Star recently, also worth a read.

I was also one of those people who disliked the Hip for a long time, mostly as a reflexive reaction to the over-the-top enthusiasm of their stereotypical hoser fan base. But as time has worn on their fans have gotten less annoying and their music stands up. And some of their songs are just so beautiful... Bobcaygeon is just so gorgeous. It will never fail to make me emotional listening to it. And is there a better bar rock song than At The Hundredth Meridian? I say no.

I saw them at The Fillmore in SF once and there's a standing joke that if you want to find all the Canadians in the city just wait for the Hip to tour through. Poor Americans showing up at the show must have wondered where all the Canadians came from - or more likely they got dragged by Canadian friends so they already knew.

This is such a sad story but Gord seems to have handled it with grace - who knows how long he'll have in the end but not everyone gets to have a farewell tour like this and It's great that it happened.
posted by GuyZero at 10:58 AM on August 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


Ron Sexsmith = Rufus Wainright

They're both Canadian?
posted by GuyZero at 10:59 AM on August 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


Cancon rules for radio and the CBC have a lot to do with Canadian artists' abilities to make a living. Though CBC picking darlings is both good and terrible at once. Just ask Stompin Tom.

I do miss Roots and Wings, Sundays at 5 in Ontario. Tom Power is good, but he just isn't the same as Joey Taylor.
posted by bonehead at 11:01 AM on August 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


For me it's Bobcagyeon and Ahead By A Century. I lived in Ottawa a looong time, and when we went out to see the Northern lights or the moon sparkling off the snow, it was pretty much The Hip or Joel Plaskett. The thing about The Hip isn't just that they're ubiquitous but also indelible to specific memories. That crap becomes personal on a level that one can't relive or exactly explain to each other unless the memory is shared, then you don't have to.
posted by syncope at 11:01 AM on August 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


I grew up outside of Buffalo. It turns out my childhood/adolescence was /far/ more similar to that of somebody who grew up in Ontario/Toronto than of somebody from New York or even Syracuse. It's funny to sing the Marineland song with a Toronto native while a New Yorker looks at you like you're nuts, but I digress...

As someone who grew up in Toronto for a number of years back when Buffalo TV stations were the main conduit for American TV I always get a laugh asking if there's been a fire in North Tonawanda lately. Poor Buffalo newscasters leading off with a garage arson night after night every night in the early 80's.
posted by GuyZero at 11:02 AM on August 10, 2016 [11 favorites]


How often did they respond "The Tonawanda fire was Monday. You must be thinking of the fire in Lackawana last night."?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 11:06 AM on August 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


I do love me some CBC Radio 2 despite the truth it does pick and choose its darlings. The existence of CanCon--and so much good CanCon these days!--was a revelation to me when I moved up here. Enough where my husband has difficulty believing that some of the ubiquitous hits of his childhood/youth did not even make the merest dent in the States. ("Patio Lanterns", anyone? Or "High School Confidential"? "The Sweater"?)
posted by Kitteh at 11:09 AM on August 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


"Patio Lanterns", anyone?

So my kids have grown up half their lives here in the US after we moved from Canada. As teenagers I showed the "Might As Well Go For A Soda" and their reaction was basically "is this for real?"

God bless Kim Mitchell and a shoutout to all my Sarnia peeps. Go dump a box of Tide in a local fountain somewhere.
posted by GuyZero at 11:12 AM on August 10, 2016 [8 favorites]


Living near the Canadian border is weird. I also live right outside of Buffalo. We spend Canadian pennies, nickels, and quarters as if they were our own. And at least for myself growing up, the Hip were a huge band, that got a ton of air play on out stations.
posted by triage_lazarus at 11:13 AM on August 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


As teenagers I showed the "Might As Well Go For A Soda" and their reaction was basically "is this for real?"

Is this not everyone's reaction? Still trying to figure that song out.
posted by bongo_x at 11:14 AM on August 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


Still trying to figure that song out.

It's the most earnest song ever written. There's zero subtext. The song itself as as mystifying as a rock - it is exactly what it is.

Now, why Kim Mitchell wrote it? There's a question for the ages.
posted by GuyZero at 11:16 AM on August 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


Also I saw them with fellow Canucks Crash Vegas. Anyone remember them? Really good band.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 11:17 AM on August 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


Now, why Kim Mitchell wrote it? There's a question for the ages.

And why did he say soda when everyone in Canada calls it pop? This piece of premium Can-con was obviously written for the American market.
posted by cardboard at 11:19 AM on August 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


music writer, Chris Matei has seen his share of great concerts. But on July 24 in Vancouver, Matei saw a show unlike any other.

“I’ve never seen that kind of an atmosphere at a concert, where everyone is like a community,” Matei said. Strangers chatted with each other before the show began, gossiping about what the opening song might be and sharing stories about the band.

“That’s something you rarely see,” he said.


I was lucky enough to be there, front and centre. Matei is correct, we entered the building two hours before show time and drank and talked non-stop with strangers, I have never experienced anything like it.

(also, at one point during the night Gord was standing directly in front of me, I got the feeling he was mimicking my movements, I pointed at myself, Gord nodded and walked away, I have chills now typing this)
posted by Cosine at 11:27 AM on August 10, 2016 [12 favorites]


As teenagers I showed the "Might As Well Go For A Soda" and their reaction was basically "is this for real?"

Is this not everyone's reaction? Still trying to figure that song out.


I always thought it was an anti-drunk driving song. Catchy as fuck, though.
posted by jonmc at 11:32 AM on August 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


Again, it's gonna be quite the party Kingston is throwing for its hometown boys the 20th. I hope everything goes well for all the crowds in Market Square. (I live in a downtown neighbourhood so it'll be an easy walk to check stuff out.)
posted by Kitteh at 11:38 AM on August 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Go For a Soda absolutely was used in drunk driving campaigns. I'm not certain that it was written out of anything more than middle-aged dad nostalgia though.
posted by bonehead at 11:40 AM on August 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


> God bless Kim Mitchell and a shoutout to all my Sarnia peeps.

My grade eight teacher claimed he was probably at some of the parties that inspired "Patio Lanterns."
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:41 AM on August 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


> As teenagers I showed the "Might As Well Go For A Soda" and their reaction was basically "is this for real?"

> Is this not everyone's reaction? Still trying to figure that song out.


I took this to mean they were mystified by the video rather than the song. I mean, the video really is...something else.

I was always amused by the fact that the dude in this anti-alcohol video is clearly. High. As. FUCK.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:49 AM on August 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


My Canadian husband argues that Sloan has just as much of a musical resonance as the Hip does

It depends on what one means by musical resonance. I grew up with both bands but Sloan was easily far more resonant in my musical community than the Hip ever were so I'd agree with your husband. So yes, just yes.

It depends I suppose on if one gives a shit about mainstream success and fanfare, which the Hip had and Sloan chased (and went downhill immediately when they did so), though musical resonance may be measured in other ways. What we like is so varied, particulary in music. I personally like one Hip song, Boots and something or other, I've forgotten. Others love Bobcagyeon. The moment I heard the sad news about Downie I admit to having the selfish thought that I hope never to have to hear that awful song again. So far, so good!
posted by juiceCake at 12:08 PM on August 10, 2016


Halifax’s Downtown Business Commission and the CBC are screening the Hip’s final concert live at the Grand Parade. Street closures, live music, fundraiser for Canadian Cancer Society. Local businesses and the Mayor's office are behind it.

I was lucky enough to see them in Halifax a few times when they were still a university band, just after Up To Here was released. If you can find a copy of MuchMusic's broadcast of the Road Apples concert from the Misty Moon, I'm in the front row. Last time I saw them they were opening for the Rolling Stones (and Maroon 5 opened for the Hip).

As a Haligonian, I'd dispute the comparisons with Sloan. Sloan was fun, but nowhere near as impactful or long lasting. When the Hip first broke in Canada, critics compared them (unfavourably) with the Black Crowes. Yeah, I don't get why they're not the biggest band in the universe. For me, Fully Completely is my favourite. They just never seemed to have a terrible song.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 12:10 PM on August 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


Sloan was fun

Sloan IS fun. They are still making really great music, some of their best. I am certainly a bigger Hip fan but the last few Hip albums are a tough go.
posted by Cosine at 12:16 PM on August 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


I've long said that F*cked Up (I guess we're doing that?) is a punk band only because of the name and a screamy lead singer. Swap the singer out and you've got a reasonably good pop band with a weird name.

Aging punk that I am, that may sound like an insult coming from me, but it really isn't. I really liked David Comes Alive a lot. I just think it isn't particularly a punk album.

All this is to say, Abraham loving the Tragically Hip surprises me not at all. Now, if the Wright brothers were to say that, it would give me pause.
posted by lumpenprole at 12:21 PM on August 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I only added the asterisk because not everyone's screens are work safe. If I had included the band name below the fold, I'd not have bothered.
posted by Kitteh at 12:22 PM on August 10, 2016


Everyone is saying they were REM--I can't really get into them, but I think of them as a better than decent bar band who had enough pretensions that music critics could think of them as something more than what heshers listened to on a saturday night. What hesher's listened to was often much more interesting. Also, the Canadian REM was The Smalls.
posted by PinkMoose at 12:25 PM on August 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I thought Sloan wrote better and more complex music; the Hip did folk (and there's only so much you can do with that, really) and had stronger lyrics.
posted by cotton dress sock at 12:52 PM on August 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


Also, get Ry Cooder to sing my eulogy.
posted by syncope at 1:15 PM on August 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


What hesher's listened to was often much more interesting.

Thank You.
posted by jonmc at 1:21 PM on August 10, 2016


Ron Sexsmith = Rufus Wainright

They're both Canadian?


No shit? Well I'll be...
posted by St. Peepsburg at 2:02 PM on August 10, 2016


Rufus McGarrigle Wainright was born in New York, but spent much of his childhood in Montreal. He's the son of Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainright, both Canadian. He's got dual citizenship.
posted by bonehead at 2:54 PM on August 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I got hooked by "New Orleans is Sinking" and played the cassette of Up to Here all summer long. I've only sporadically kept up. I was lucky enough to see them live once, in a small venue, in the US that got packed by Canadians who smoked down everyone around them. So many joints were going around it's a wonder the place didn't catch on fire. The band rocked the roof off.
posted by wobh at 3:16 PM on August 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I thought Sloan wrote better and more complex music; the Hip did folk (and there's only so much you can do with that, really) and had stronger lyrics.

I'd agree. Downie is a remarkable lyricist, and he has created stunning evocations of time and place, history and geography, revealed in a distinctly Canadian perspective. As an extra bonus, he sometimes added these weird fascinating monologues to introduce songs. But I don't feel the love for The Hip's sound, it leans too much to the generic bar-band chugging-along for my taste.


Ron Sexsmith = Rufus Wainright

They're both Canadian?


Ron Sexsmith was awarded a glittering star for his composition class by Elvis Costello, but I'm not a fan.
I have mixed feelings about Rufus, but he's kooky and fearless, and I kinda like the audacity about him.
Sloan wrote very good songs.

(Please do not hesitate to let me know if you wish for me to share my feelings about any other Canadian recording artists;)
posted by ovvl at 3:22 PM on August 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


Somehow this anecdote just floored me. It strikes me as a crystalline distillation of Canada, The Hip, and Gord most of all.

My son was toddling his way around the backstage with us in tow when he tumbled out in front of Gord. After helping him up and making sure he was OK, Gord picked up Holden's flung and filthy soother and rushed over the sink to wash it. As he handed back the washed pacifier, I told him that he didn't need to worry about doing that.

"Of course I did," he responded.




Not "No problem", not "Keep an eye on your kid will ya?", not "You're welcome, cute kid"

"Of course I did"

So Downie.
posted by raider at 3:23 PM on August 10, 2016 [9 favorites]


I'm Queen's class of '93 so the Hip have a very particular place in my life having seen them a lot in the years I was in Kingston - both personally around town and as a band. So much of their sound, and some of Gord's lyrics, live deep in my bones. I haven't been back there since I graduated, haven't even lived in Canada since 1996 but I happened to be visiting family there (I actually typed 'be home' which is kind of telling I suppose; that after not living there for 20 years and owning property in California even, I still think of Canada as "home") when they announced Gord was sick and it was surreal. I'm planning to VPN to the CBC and do some fancy connecting of things to our giant TV with surround sound to see this concert happen on the 20th and I know I'm going to be a sobbing mess. It'll be like the end of a part of my life's own history in a way.

Interesting that anyone would compare them to Sloan; other than the fact they're both Canadian bands way under appreciated elsewhere. But while the Hip means Canada for me (I always play it while I'm flying home to visit my family there just to connect myself to the place again), Sloan barely registers as such. Though I actually like Sloan a lot more musically and have seen them play live in SF a bunch. Maybe it's that I think of the Tragically Hip as "Canadian" and Sloan as "being from Halifax"?
posted by marylynn at 9:30 PM on August 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


They were on SNL back in the mid nineties. I remember being in middle school and having no idea who they were but liking them enough to seek out their records.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 10:43 PM on August 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Also, get Ry Cooder to sing my eulogy.

Ever since Gord Downie's cancer was annoounced this line has popped into my head frequently. Is it too on-the-nose to hope Ry shows up for their last concert and maybe joins them onstage?
posted by wabbittwax at 4:50 AM on August 11, 2016


Ron Sexsmith was awarded a glittering star for his composition class by Elvis Costello, but I'm not a fan.

I like to call Ron Sexsmith the Saddest Man in Canadian Music. All his stuff is mopey!

Ron Hawkins, on the other hand, is fucking amazing.
posted by Kitteh at 5:43 AM on August 11, 2016


I'm a Canadian who grew up with the Hip, but my favourite Hip moment was in the US.

I was with a carload of friends on a road trip to see the Hip play as the opener in a Pennsylvania college town. This was the Phantom Power era, so consistent with this thread, the band were already household names in Canada but were playing this modest gig in the states. Well, in a rush to get into town, we get pulled over for speeding on the interstate. A big, intimidating state trooper with big reflective aviator sunglasses approaches the car and, being poor young students, we're all terrified.

He sticks his head in the window, looks around, and gives the stern "where are you going so fast?" speech. We say we're on the way to a concert. He asks who's playing, we tell him, and looking confused he asks "the tragic and who?". We repeat the name and he shrugs it off and asks for the license and registration.

A few minutes later he comes back and says: "I'm going to give you two warnings. First: slow down while you're driving on my highway. The second: Baby, eat this chicken slow..it's full of all them little bones".

He walks away and we all sat in awed silence for an eternity. Of course, the Hip were amazing that night and we screamed along to every minute from the front row.
posted by Adam_S at 11:56 AM on August 11, 2016 [11 favorites]


I saw Kim Mitchell in 1993. I seem to recall he sang "beer" and picked up a can of it when he was singing "Go for Soda"; he also pointed at his beer-banded trucker hat. A friend who used to live with one of the guys in Max Webster in the late 70s/early 80s said it was totally a play to the US market and that everyone knew it was just a bubblegum approach to "Let's go for a beer and work it out" that would let them play a drinking song for US teens. Then MADD started asking to use it and they never really went anywhere in the US market, so they played up the anti-drinking angle, since it let them get more Air Play on Much and all the other Canadian stations. (People saw it as a bit of a public service to play it, as a time when, in the US, Tipper Gore was going ballistic about Twisted Sister.)

For me, an earnest high school and university student who was emergning from a working class culture and small town where anything intellectual would get you beaten into submission, discovering the Hip was like getting oxygen. You made a song about the FLQ crisis?! About a dead hockey player? It was the most beautiful thing. Still is.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 4:31 PM on August 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


I am an old, who picked up his guitar after about two decades. Trying it out, some barre chords, nothing amazing... whoa, that's Fifty Mission Cap! Right, look that up, learn it a bit more. Next day, fiddling around, open Em7... Locked in the Trunk of a Car!

Anyway that's my story.
posted by Tad Naff at 11:07 PM on August 16, 2016


There's added Canadian poetry in this tour wrapping up in late August, just as the days grow noticeably shorter and the evenings start to have a bit of a chill to them.
posted by cardboard at 11:59 AM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


They've already begun road closures here in Kingston. The whole city seems to be in an amped excited state (for a good reason).
posted by Kitteh at 12:57 PM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


My favourite Hip song is "Blow at High Dough" which was the theme song to a TV show I loved called "Made in Canada".

I think all you really need to know about The Hip's penetration into Canadian psyche is no Canadian needs to get this Corner Gas joke explained to them.
posted by Mitheral at 11:55 PM on August 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


PS: the first season (a a smidge of the second) of Made in Canada is up on youtube. Worth a watch if you like snarky, convoluted backstabby comedy.
posted by Mitheral at 3:40 PM on August 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm in line to see the show at the National Music Centre, and a woman just walked down the line trying to get a ticket. This is in Calgary, by the way. So many bars showing it tonight.

I think there's finally a new way to explain the importance of the Hip to non-Canadians, in that the national broadcaster is preempting the Olympics to show their final concert. They're the late-breaking story on the CBC.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 4:53 PM on August 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


Watching the stream and stiffening my upper lip
posted by Senor Cardgage at 6:39 PM on August 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


They play "Fiddlers Green" and it ends on a poignant note and then launch into "Little Bones" like "fuck you, no crying yet"
posted by Senor Cardgage at 6:45 PM on August 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


And here we go with "Bobcaygeon." Not a dry eye here in Kingston.
posted by Kitteh at 7:02 PM on August 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


He loses himself at the chorus so the crowd just sings louder :(
posted by Senor Cardgage at 7:04 PM on August 20, 2016


Eventually you just have to let yourself cry so that you can get back to smiling.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 7:10 PM on August 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Welp, I cried five times I think. Between globalization and media fragmentation, I don't think there will ever be another Canadian band as big as The Hip.

The first time I went to Europe, I had a bunch of mix MP3 CDs, but I brought Fully Completely so if I lost my Canadian passport, I could establish both that I was Canadian and that I was over 18.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 8:41 PM on August 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


What a show. Amazing. It was a bit awkward showing American friends of ours as I kind of kept wanting to apologize for Gord - no, really, he can sing, this is actually a great song - but he warmed up as it went along. I'm so happy the CBC decided to show the whole thing uninterrupted and to stream it worldwide. It looked like a million bucks for a crappy small-town hockey rink. I hope they sell DVDs because they're going to sell millions.
posted by GuyZero at 8:57 PM on August 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


That was really good. Saw it in a local park where they have live music every night during the summer. Felt a little sorry for the guys coming on after.

I don't make a lot of concerts so maybe this happens all the time but I loved their expected encore setup: "Now we're going to go in the back and pretend we've left. You're going to cheer and we're going to come out and play."
posted by Mitheral at 9:04 PM on August 20, 2016


"Now I'm going to go off the stage and we'll pretend we're gone and you'll cheer and we'll come back and play another song.

...

Ok maybe I shouldn't have said that because you didn't really cheer very hard because I just told you we'd be coming back." [paraphrased!]

This is the sort of deconstructive subversive-yet-humble equalizing speech I wish I heard from public figures more often. Dare I slot it as "Canadian"? Come to think of it another example might be Rush's Alex Lifeson's heartfelt blah-blah-blah award acceptance speech.
posted by sylvanshine at 9:07 PM on August 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


I teared up during Grace, Too even though I'd seen video of the other show where he made like he was crying and I knew it was a bit of showbiz...but *damn* it was still intense. What a way for both the band and fans to say goodbye.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:11 PM on August 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


I've never in my life wanted to be in a bar in Canada than I do tonight.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:18 PM on August 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


It was another Canadian rock icon, Neil Young, who articulated one of rock and roll’s supposed principles: “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.” Gord Downie is living that, but not by way of narcissistic self-destruction. He is burning out by working, and making art. He is achieving a beautiful death.
Watching Canada’s Biggest Rock Band Say a Dramatic Goodbye, Stephen Marche, The New Yorker, August 20.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 9:32 PM on August 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


Watched the whole live stream tonight sitting in our yard on a perfect summer evening here. I will say I was worried for Gord at the beginning--he was so fragile, singing "Courage"-- but as Guy Zero said above, he really warmed up as they went along. I thought it was a fantastic show and I'm so glad to have watched it along with so many other Canadians all over the world. I definitely teared up more than once, especially when he sang "I gotta go, it's been a pleasure doing business with you."

The Hip were a staple of my university years, and I have always really liked them, though I wouldn't classify myself as a superfan. But tonight I realized how their music has just been there bubbling in my brain under the surface all this time, because I knew damn near every song they played.

Thanks for the music Gord. Mortality is a brutal business but I'm glad you get to go out how you wanted to.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:52 PM on August 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


In Banff, we missed the bus up the hill so walked through the woods to our friend's house. The concert projected on a garage door, 50 of us plus kids busy playing hockey and water guns. BBQ, mountain sunset behind us. What a bond.
posted by furtive at 10:07 PM on August 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


Please forgive the self links... PS - I'm sorry but there is no way on earth that Sloan is in any way comparable to the Hip.
posted by Jaybo at 10:09 PM on August 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh man. I caught the last half-hour or so, and now I'm homesick in a way I haven't been in a long time.

I'm so glad the CBC streamed this and removed the geo-blockers for the night. I felt close to home, all the way from Melbourne, though I'd rather have been watching this at the lake with a two-four and some friends.
posted by third word on a random page at 10:31 PM on August 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


Interrupting the Olympics (literally starting and ending it with Ron MacLean and the athletes in Rio talking about the Hip), commercial-free, no cut-aways to other venues, no commentary, no censorship of language, going over the allotted time, Prime Minister in the audience, open-air rebroadcasts across the country. I can't imagine there are too many musical acts in too many countries that would command that sort of attention.

Goodbye, Gord, and thanks.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 5:21 AM on August 21, 2016 [5 favorites]


Dan Speerin: "You know how much an ad buy would've gone for during #CBCTheHip? We're not watching ads thnx to public broadcasting"

So glad the CBC streamed it live (without geoblocking) and chose to go ad free for the full 3+ hours.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 8:52 AM on August 21, 2016 [3 favorites]



Oh man. I caught the last half-hour or so, and now I'm homesick in a way I haven't been in a long time.

I'm so glad the CBC streamed this and removed the geo-blockers for the night. I felt close to home, all the way from Melbourne, though I'd rather have been watching this at the lake with a two-four and some friends.


Same here.

I'm yearning for Canada right now.
posted by srboisvert at 12:04 PM on August 21, 2016


Last night. Oh, last night.

Shepherd and I were in Springer Square here in Kingston (it's home, yo, and I do love it) for the opening song--"Fifty Mission Cap"--and then left because it's guessed that we topped our 25K capacity in that square. Shepherd headed home to make sure my in-laws had a human presence at our house, and I took the long walk home. Every house, every backyard, windows thrown open, and all you could hear was that concert. I ran into a friend and her daughter on their way home---too many folks for them after a time--and we walked slowly through our neighbourhood, listening to the shouts of joy and Downie's voice. Of course, she and her daughter being Canadian, they would pause every other block when they heard a song they loved, standing there in the soft warm dark, mouthing the words, swaying to the rhythm. I said goodbye at a junction near our homes, walked on to my house, and marveled at how joyous everything felt. I couldn't have missed that concert. It was everywhere. And across this amazing country I am lucky to call home, Canada celebrated and said goodbye to the Tragically Hip.

They ended on "Ahead by a Century.' Not a dry eye in this damn country. Not one.
posted by Kitteh at 2:19 PM on August 21, 2016 [13 favorites]


I watched the broadcast in St. John's, and it was insane. The square was completely packed, and everyone was applauding and cheering the screen as though it could hear us. And I'm pretty sure during the moment where Gord was crying I heard a sound which could only be described as 30 million hearts breaking in unison.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 4:13 PM on August 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


« Older maris pipers   |   Floating in space Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments