Almost every Canadian’s list of Songs-of-the-Day is going to include a Tragically Hip number or two, and I’m no exception. They had a lot of great tunes and this one is right up there. Can’t write this without getting kind of damp, because we lost Gord yesterday it feels like. If you’re not Canadian and have no idea who The Hip are or who Gord was, listen to this anyhow and if you like rock music you’ll probably like it a lot.
For non-Canadians here’s the tl;dr: The Hip were a guitar-rock band with strong songwriting, a charismatic singer in Gord Downie, and a fabulous sound based on Downie’s voice cutting through Rob Baker’s wall of harmonious electric-guitar thunder. They always sold lots of records in Canada but never managed much in the US market. I saw them just once, many years ago, and they were pretty magic.
Gord Downie was diagnosed with terminal cancer and they made a last tour in 2016, an almost unbearably emotional sequence of shows; the last one was broadcast live end-to-end on the CBC and everyone I know watched it. A lot of Kleenex was consumed.
At the Hundredth Meridian is just another guitar rocker, with a great rhythm and a great sound, and another example of the Hip’s amusing habit of having numbers in their lyrics.
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.
Gord didn’t die of vanity, but I’m still a little pissed they didn’t get Ry to sing at his funeral.
Links · Spotify playlist. This tune on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon. Now, as for video, here’s the official one, not live but kind of fun; here they are in 2000 at the Fillmore, and of course the last performance. Excuse me, have to blow my nose now.