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.

Gord Downie and Rob Baker in 1989

Gord Downie and Rob Baker in 1989.

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.

This is part of the Song of the Day series (background).

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.



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From: Rob (Mar 25 2018, at 12:09)

As a Canadian, I always felt compelled to get all persnickety and point out that if you are on the Transcanada Highway, the 100th Meridian (the MINUS 100 Meridian actually-- the +100 meridian at the same latitude is somewhere in central Mongolia) is in fact very nearly exactly at the last Brandon turnoff, and if you are travelling West you've been on the Great Plains nearly 300 clicks already. It is a very extremely flat, boring, boring place with pretty much nothing to look at, that I have driven past WAY too many times. There is no marker.

On the Trans Canada, the dividing line between the Shield ("rocks & trees & trees & rocks" in the words of another Great Canadian Band) and the Prairie (wheat and canola and flax) is actually quite sharp and striking, it occurs a little East of the Ste Anne turnoff, about 50K East of Winnipeg, at about the -96.5 Meridian. But that wouldn't sound as cool of course.

/pendantry

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From: Jeff Schiller (Mar 25 2018, at 21:10)

Funny - I was just watching that last concert recently and decided I need to have Up to Here and Road Apples in my CD collection (yea that's right). Thank you Amazon! They arrived Saturday :)

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March 25, 2018
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