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Shooting from The Tragically Hip

Photo Credit: Dave O, Flickr

Photo Credit: Dave O, Flickr

Ask any person who has resided in Canada for at least ten years and chances are that this Saturday you’ll find them somewhere in contact with a Tragically Hip event:

     **Schlepping out to Kingston to see their final performance

     **At a party at home, watching the CBC

     **Standing in front of one of dozens of Jumbotrons in communities all over Canada

The Tragically Hip is Canada.

And Canada loves The Hip.

And the rest of the world has absolutely no idea what the fuss is about.

To explain, The Hip is on a farewell tour. Their lead singer, Gord Downie, has terminal brain cancer.  We’ve collectively decided to have his wake while he is still alive, and raise money for cancer research.  The party, which has been going on most of August, has eclipsed the Olympics in terms of interest here. The final concert is in their hometown on August 20th and the CBC is broadcasting it.

That’s right, some rock band from Kingston, Ontario that has had virtually no airplay on U.S. regular or satellite radio is having their farewell concert broadcast live nationwide in Canada, on regular television.

One of my nephews, a literal walking library of music and lyrics, has never liked The Hip.  It’s OK, he lives in the United States and doesn’t understand the music.  I find it funny though that every time I see him, he has to make some comment about whether I’m still listening to the Hip or not. He says that when he thinks of me, he thinks of them.

He once told me that Gord Downie sounds like he’s got a goat in his throat, which is true, but beside the point.

Ok, so this is an HR blog, why The Hip?

I find it to be the coolest thing that we have something that we all love together. The Hip is our music.  It tells the story of Canada, of a place that can be in the middle of everything and far away at the same time, of a place that is beautiful and natural, and commercialized.  It is a place of its own history, with what would be otherwise forgotten stories like a hockey player who dies in a plane crash or a major prison break. Or, a place where it is so calm and quiet that you can get lost in your thoughts.  It is the culture of the north, being performed by the generation after Gordon Lightfoot.

One thing The Hip are known for is mishmash; evolving a new song from an existing one, from experimentation, often done live.  In their honour, I spent a little time and created my own Hip story, using lyrics from fifteen Tragically Hip songs.    I encourage you to try this with your favourite Hip lyrics and see what you come up with.  Feel free to post it in comments.


Watch the band through a bunch of dancers
Quickly, follow the unknown
With something more familiar
Quickly, something familiar

It gets so sticky down here
Better butter your cue-finger up
It’s the start of another new year
Better call the newspaper up

Twelve men broke loose in seventy three
From Millhaven Maximum Security

Looking for a place to happen
Making stops along the way

Late breaking story on the CBC
A nation whispers, “We always knew that he’d go free”

You just hit me where I live
I guess it looked quite primitive

I had this dream where I relished the fray and the screaming filled my head all day.

Then I found a place it’s dark and it’s rotted
It’s a cool, sweet kinda place
Where the coppers won’t spot it
And I destroyed the map, I even thought I forgot it,
However, everyday I’m dumping the body

Bill Barilko disappeared that summer
He was on a fishing trip
The last goal he ever scored
Won the Leafs the cup
They didn’t win another till 1962
The year he was discovered

I come from downtown, born ready for you
Armed with will and determination, and grace, too

Sometimes I feel so good I gotta scream
She said Gordie baby I know exactly what you mean

And that’s when the hornet stung me, and I had a feverish dream, of revenge and death

If I die of vanity, promise me, promise me,
They bury me some place I don’t want to be,
You’ll dig me up and transport me, unceremoniously,
Away from the swollen city-breeze, garbage bag trees,
Whispers of disease and the acts of enormity
And lower me slowly, sadly and properly
Get Ry Cooder to sing my eulogy

It was in Bobcaygeon, I saw the constellations
Reveal themselves one star at a time

And the rest of the world
Becomes a gift shop



  1. Bonni, Great article that describes This our “Canadian” Life!

    First thing we’d climb a tree
    and maybe then we’d talk
    or sit silently
    and listen to our thoughts
    with illusions of someday
    cast in a golden light
    no dress rehearsals
    this is our life

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