Many Canadians will tune away from the Olympics today to watch The Tragically Hip’s last concert live. I’ve already bookmarked the CBC’s live stream site on YouTube.
All of Canada mourned when the band announced in May that lead-singer Gordon Downie had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. They released their last album in June and the CBC decided to live cast the final concert from their hometown in Kingston, so the nation could say goodbye.
It is not surprising to me how Canada is rallying around the band, and doing it in a way that, I think could never happen un the USA. Because it is not about whether you like The Hip or not. It’s about rallying around an idea of what it is to be Canadian. When the CBC asked fans to answer the question“What does the Tragically Hip mean to you?” in 3 or 4 words, they got answers like “Canada’s heart and soul” and “Great poets of our time”.
I was never a rabid Hip fan, but I concur with the two sentiments above. They appeared just after I’d finished university and had started teaching, but I had cassettes of “Up to Here” and “Road Apples” that I played frequently. And they were two of the cassettes I took with me when I went to teach in Colombia.
I called my 85-year-old mother this morning and, half-jokingly asked if she’d be watching. She said she would. So, this afternoon, I will join millions of people, in Canada and across the world to watch this
If you don’t know The Tragically Hip, you can get the check out Rolling Stone’s article about what they consider their 10 essential songs.