The soundtrack of their lives

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - STEVEN WAR­BUR­TON

My brother was in col­lege when he at­tended the Trag­i­cally Hip concert at the Sad­dle­dome in Cal­gary. I asked him if it was a sold out show and he looked at me like I just asked the stupid ques­tion in his­tory. “Of course,” he said. “It’s the Hip.” Mea culpa. I’d made the mis­take of as­sum­ing that only big name in­ter­na­tional artists, like the Rolling Stones, could sell out the dome, which was (and still is) an NHL hockey arena. I had heard of the Trag­i­cally Hip but I didn’t count my­self among their le­gion of fans. I knew next to noth­ing about them ex­cept that their song New Orleans is

Sink­ing had a pretty catchy gui­tar lick. My brother’s col­lege days are al­most 20 years in the rear view but he is still a diehard Hip fan. I won't call my­self a fan but I can't help but feel some loss at the pass­ing of this piece of Cana­di­ana. Plenty of my fel­low GenX'ers say the Hip’s mu­sic is the sound­tracks of their lives. My brother is one of those peo­ple. One Hip al­bum brings him back to high school. An­other one brings him back to his fresh­man year in col­lege. An­other one was play­ing in his car stereo dur­ing a long week­end road trip with his first real girl­friend. And so on...

So in the spring­time, my brother was un­der­stand­ably dev­as­tated when the group’s lead singer and chief lyric writer, Gord Downie, was di­ag­nosed with ter­mi­nal brain can­cer. The Trag­i­cally Hip has spent the sum­mer do­ing a farewell tour of sorts. They played in Van­cou­ver, Ed­mon­ton, Cal­gary, Toronto, Vic­to­ria, Win­nipeg, Lon­don, Hamil­ton, Ot­tawa, all to end with a live broad­cast Satur­day evening from the band’s home­town of Kingston.

This week’s Straight Talk ques­tion is all about the Trag­i­cally Hip. I have to ad­mit that I thought it might be dif­fi­cult find­ing six Hip fans here in Glen­garry, but it was quite easy. It re­in­forced what my brother told me nearly two decades ago – that the Trag­i­cally Hip are an iconic rock Cana­dian band. They are not just rock­ers who mind­lessly cel­e­brate the party life­style (like Mot­ley Crue) nor are they me­lan­choly poets whose songs make us pon­der the na­ture of hu­man­ity but do lit­tle to get us out of our seats and on to the dance floor (I’m look­ing at you, Leonard Co­hen.) No, the Trag­i­cally Hip was able to blend these two ex­tremes, giv­ing us a mu­si­cal act that is both as Cana­dian as maple syrup yet univer­sal enough to make pro­found ob­ser­va­tions about how we live our lives.

To wit: There's no sim­ple ex­pla­na­tion/for any­thing im­por­tant any of us do/ And, yeah, the hu­man tragedy con­sists in the ne­ces­sity of liv­ing with the con­se­quences un­der pres­sure.

I feel bad for all the Hip fans and I guess I feel a lit­tle sad that I never got into the Trag­i­cally Hip’s mu­sic. I'm en­vi­ous of the ca­ma­raderie the ex­tended fam­ily of Hip fans felt on Satur­day night. I hope my brother had a good time watch­ing the concert.

I think he did. And I think he didn't.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.