The Tragically Hip played a key role in the development of my musical taste – their music took me from a world of enjoying mainstream catchy pop mixed with classical instrumental pieces to a wide world of wonderful Canadian artists and the depth of lyrics that previously had escaped my notice. It’s hard to hear a song written by Gord Downie and miss that there is something a bit different about the lyrics.
His was a style of stream of consciousness which touched on topics that some of the more modern mainstream acts might shy away from. It also was peppered with locations that generally don’t get mentioned. If you’ve never looked into the places in the songs there is a wonderful interactive feature page that the CBC put together. I highly recommend giving it a look.
The Tragically Hip song New Orleans is Sinking is also the very first song I ever performed in front of a live audience with my old band mates. Perhaps it was the groove, or the simple yet passionate delivery of the lyrics, or even the often unrecognized live “Killer Whale Tank” version of the song (warning: contains strong language) that inspired me to perform that particular song. Gord Downie had a penchant for live performance improvisation. You can find many examples of it over the years. And the Hips live performances were always spectacular; including that final run last year.
What ever it was, my love of the Hip has never died, nor has my love for Canadian music, singing, or truly music and Canada in general. I would like to thank Gord Downie and the rest of the Tragically Hip for their contribution to that. If you’re also of a mind to pay your respects, the Downie family is considering a public event where fans can honour the late singer; though you will have to wait for details of that to be released.
‘Looked up to the Gord above and said “hey man, thanks.”’
– Richard Huskisson
Image by Moyia Misner-Pellow on flikr.