I never really got “The Hip,” could honestly take their music or leave it in a kind of neutrality. For a lot of my friends, this was the soundtrack to their teenage years. But somehow I missed the “Hip” gene.
I watched their final concert from Kingston with my parents; boomers. We kind of popped in and out between that, and other shows. We ended up watching the final half hour steady. And that’s when I started to get it.
The Tragically Hip was never about the music; the guitar or drum solos, the long intros or Gord Downie vocals characterizing every song. It was about the lyrics and the story. Somehow this band tapped into something well essentially Canadian. They sang about Canadian places, and stories in a way that Leonard Cohen, Gordon Lightfoot or Stompin’ Tom could never do. They made it cool to be Canadian, and have become part of that illusive ” Canadian culture” we hunger for.
I related to it on a purely human level. Gord Downie is dying. His choice to spend what may be a stretch of his final days performing makes it about more than just giving back to fans, and the country. He became a living example of doing what you love, and living life to its fullest even when faced with your own mortality.
“Illusions of someday cast in a golden light. No dress rehersal. This is our life.” I had these lines from Ahead By a Century looping in my head for a long time after the concert was over. Let’s make it a good life Canada. For Gord.