Day 34 (of 186) inspired by last weeks #weirded via Tom Petty, the Canadian version via @thehipdotcom
It’s sometimes hard to be an “early adopter” and have to be patient while others catch up to ‘trends’ that evolve from fad to mainstream. The music for many of us in Canada has mirrored this in our appreciation for one of Canada’s greatest music groups The Tragically Hip whose frontman Gord Downie recently passed away. The Hip were only too aware that some of their thinking (and singing) was ‘ahead of the curve’. Writing songs ranging from rants about social issues including incorrect jail sentencing to the treatment of our First Nations Communities (Gord’s last song was connected to a picture book and an amazing video about Canadas Residential Schools: The Secret Path https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1ln-izMHpE with larger tv component on one of Canadas darker pasts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGd764YU9yc
It’s safe to say that it is sometimes tragic to be hip – there is sadness in knowing what should be (what is hip) and what really is. It’s why whether the Hip were playing at a dorm party at the University of Manitoba, at an open air festival, on Saturday Night Live (where they played Grace Too https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d18UWu4dRv4 and Nautical Disaster https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8Fi46BFAF0 ) or performing for a ‘final concert’ for Canada: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLOf5t_TzkDbW7yfmz3NrYX7BXHpU12eX7
Gord Downie was always willing to use his medium of creating socially aware – great music to send messages – Wheat Kings https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xIaBcfL6vU helps tell the story of someone (Dave Millgaard) sent to prison for a crime he did not commit. Again bringing up the idea and question about what we do when we do something and then later need to figure out what we should have done differently once we are aware it was a wrong decision.
One of their bigger hits, New Orleans is Sinking https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xIaBcfL6vU is about remaining resilient against ongoing obstacles – specifically that the city of New Orleans has an eroding coast (not including hurricanes) which works agains the city – yet it remains enduring and strong – and inspiring us to consider what we do that keeps us “strong”.
At the same time, The Tragically Hip were able to show how a country is made up of many subcultures – Blow at High Dough https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGRNEJiD3PY helps show that even when we have a common history (in this case materials) – sometimes our cultures have sayings and actions that don’t necessarily easily translate to other regions. My own experience has had friends shaking their heads to me when I support sports teams that are on the right side of the content (#westcoastbias) rather than teams in Toronto – which according to some would be the Canadian-thing-to-do… (but they usually live on the other side of the rockies 😉
The playlist of songs of The Hip is strong and deep – even their ‘greatest hits’ package Yer Favourites doesn’t have them all, but is an easy compilation to hit ‘shuffle’ on. It will bring up songs that make you have to consider how you deal with friends/families/schools that think different – politically, relgiously, etc in songs like At The Hundredth Meridian https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCFo0a8V-Ag where an natural boundary can mean the changing of a world….. or the underrated (but often pops up in ‘top 3 lists’) Bobcaygeon which has us wondering – is it better to have an evil in the open, or just below the surface…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6QDjDPRF5c
It can be tragic to be hip – when you know what should be done (but isn’t) it can be very hard. But Gord Downie (literally) worked on raising awareness until the end. Even when told he wouldn’t make his final concert series, he did (it was at his home town after all) and went out of his way to help raise awareness of our Truth and Reconciliation Committee work to acknowledge previous wrongs such as our Residential School System. Canada likes to see itself as a world leader in peace and doing the right thing. It’s sometimes hard to look inside and see that who we want to be isn’t necessarily how we have been….kind of like what comes out via the song Ahead by a Century https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QE2joQsWXJg There are important things to learn by looking back at our past – in some cases things that work but in other cases things not to do again…!
If time allows, it can be valuable to listen and think about some final songs from the Hip:
Looking for a place to Happen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMpflB1kgNo which makes us consider perspective – can you share a time where you thought you were doing something awesome….but maybe it wasn’t so good? And Fully Completely https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wR94EkkSrWE which asks us can we be both logical and emotional (as educators)? Can we ever be “done” learning?
Deep questions from a deep thinking musician whose passing has impacted and influenced many canadians – and hopefully many south of the 49th parallel!