Barb and I had agreed we were going to do two Tragically Hip Posts. I have to admit that after reading hers, I was tempted to just post that I can’t do any better than that. And I can’t, but that never stopped me before.
A couple notes.
When we started dating, Barb introduced me to the Hip with some music she gave me that was themed “The best music you never heard.” The song was Bobcaygeon…here’s part of the opening….
It was in Bobcaygeon, I saw the constellations
Reveal themselves, one star at time
That’s a powerful use of language. It is as good as it gets, in fact. When you can use 14 words to create a feeling in the reader of leaving the house of a woman you love and looking up and watching the stars appear…that’s the power of writing in the hands of a genius. Fourteen words explode into a million.
One of the things I admire most about songwriters and poets is the ability to do even more….to take TWO words that don’t actually go together and blow them up to a million. As in the words “rusty breezes” in Wheat Kings. Breezes aren’t rusty, but you know its an old weathervane blowing around on the top of a barn in the middle of a bunch of cornfields. (Well, wheat fields. But you get the idea).
There are tons of examples in the songs. It’s just a tragic loss. When I saw the Hip in Windsor with Barb, people were asking me here (those who are not familiar with the band) to compare them to a US Band. Honestly, I don’t there is a comparison. Their farewell concert was covered on national television. We haven’t got anything like that.
Here’s the second thing. Gord Downie died at 53. I’m at 53. Not to be maudlin, but that gives you a little perspective. On the day I learned he died (Monday) I was running around in some semi-futile struggle to get something organized, and I thought to myself, what if this is my last year? Am I going to spend it anxious and obsessed over shit that doesn’t matter? Feeling sorry for myself?
You certainly didn’t see any of that out of Downie. I’d like to say the same for me over the next year, but that’s a tough promise to keep.
Gord Downie was a true artist. The music will live on, a legacy of the power of art. I’m deeply saddened writing this. But alive, aware. Growing. This is what grief is for.