So roughly a third of Canada’s population watched the final concert by The Tragically Hip. I imagine it’ll be talked about for some time yet. Lots has been said about what the band has meant to Canadian identity, I’m still processing what a band I’d largely left behind in my post-university days–but still listened to and enjoyed whenever we crossed paths–means to me. All I know for sure was that I wasn’t emotionally up for watching the concert. A feeling I’ll maybe regret in days down the road, not sharing the night with friends, but I just couldn’t do it.
I did stay up, unable to sleep, imagining the perfect set list, and thinking of them playing “Fiddler’s Green.”
His tiny knotted heart
Well, I guess it never worked to good
The timber tore apart
And the water gorged the wood
You can hear her whispered prayer
For men at masts that always lean
The same wind that moves her hair
Moves her boy through Fiddler’s Green
I was kind of surprised how heavily news of Gord Downie’s cancer hit me. I’d mostly moved on from The Hip. I still listened to old favourites from time to time, but I haven’t bought an album since Day for Night.
But The Hip were a huge part of my youth. And I remember the moment I first heard “Highway Girl”. I was in high school, it was late at night during summer vacation and I was listening to the radio, and this song came on. And I immediately wanted to listen to it again. But it was ages before I tracked down a bootleg copy.
It was in the middle of Gord’s double suicide rant that I realized that The Hip were storytellers as well as musicians. I’m still drawn to songs and artists that tell stories. Folks like Corb Lund, Murder By Death. Folks who give me something beyond “verse, chorus, verse.” This realization hit home even further when I recognized lyrics from the live version of Highway Girl in “Locked in the Trunk of a Car.”
I’m still not sure I’ll check out their final tour, but I’m so thankful I have got to see them live.
Don’t you think, babe, you push a bit too fast?
I said slowing down don’t make it last
Yeah, she said a memory will never set you free
Go out and see that world and bring it home to me
My favourite band released a couple albums of cover songs and among those truly excellent covers was one of my favourite songs from my high school days. The more I think on it, the more Tragically Hip songs come to mind that I’d love to hear Murder By Death take a run at recording (38 Years Old, Cordelia, Boots and Hearts, Long Time Running, Highway Girl, I’m looking at you). It’s a shame I can hear them in my head, but I’ll probably never get to listen to them.
In the meantime, enjoy one you can listen to!
Morning broke out the back side of a truck stop
End of a line, a real rainbow likening luck stop
Where you could say I became chronologically fucked up
Put ten bucks in just to get the tank topped off
Then I found a place, it’s dark and it’s rotted
It’s a cool, sweet kind of place where the copters won’t spot it
And I destroyed the map, I even thought I forgot it
However, every day I’m dumping the body
(For the record: I’ve always wondered if it’s more creepy that every day the narrator is dumping THE body, than if every day he’d been dumping A body)