I am just an average Tragically Hip fan, I have never experienced the band live. I am probably more of an admirer than what people would call a true fan, I bought the CD’s created the iPod playlist and chose to learn to play Ahead by a Century on my new guitar. I can’t say that I remember how to play it today if I took the guitar out of its case. I consider the Hip to be the new Guess Who, who I grew up listening to with songs of Canadiana. You can’t forget about Running back to Saskatoon; Share the Land, Albert Flasher and of course American Woman. So back we go to about 15 years after the Guess Who and here come the Tragically Hip, 5 kids from Kingston who before we knew it started telling us more about Canada and taught us and reminded us about a nation we weren’t aware of.
The Hip opened up the stories of Canada through their songs. There is the cottage anthem of Bobcageon, the Maple Leaf anthem of Stanley Cup angst 50 Mission Cap and the vastness of the west that include the Paris of Prairies. Like the Guess Who and Gordon Lightfoot their music the Hip created a pride in Canada through their music.
As the word of the Hip spread so did their celebration of not only Canada, but also of whom they were – they were us – you and I. We were and are students of the Hip. The first lesson is that we are all equal. They were equals among themselves and because of that they survived. The Tragically Hip was able to stay together for 30 plus years because they didn’t break up. The Hip battled through the difficult times. Simple to say, but harder to do. Image five brothers that stay together for 30 years. In a typical family there is always an oldest brother, a youngest brother and a middle brother. Could the five brothers stay together with those dynamics in place?
Equality created the staying power of the Hip and only when it was clear that the limits of time were ending did Gord Downie seek to create equality for those that had it taken from them. Their music brought Canadians together, around a campfire, the small concert halls and during the #ManMachinePoem Farewell Tour where thousands gathered in public squares, parks, bars and living rooms to watch the Farewell show from Kingston.
From the Hip we learn again, learn to seek our purpose, large or small while there is
time and we work on our purpose until there is no more time. Their music will live on like other bands, dare I say it, as The Beatles, the universal presence of their music will grow and their appeal will continue to expand. Because there isn’t going to be new music their musical legacy will outlast many others because of the popularity and the connections the Tragically Hip made with Canadians in every bar and on every concert stage they played on. We loved and embraced their music “Fully Completely”.
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