inevitability of death

is it insensitive of me to consider the title for this post when i consider the impact that gord downie and the tragically hip have had on my life?  i have been stewing over the news of gord’s brain cancer and thinking about all the things i associate with him.  i have also been listening to the band’s entire catalogue.  amazed at the number of songs i retain all lyrics to in my own brain.

i think of the title of this blog.  impossibilium.  about how i love abu even when i don’t know i’m doing it.  dismiss it out of hand, ’cause i don’t even know i’m doing it.  so many powerful ideas about so many different aspects of one’s life covered through the joy of mere words.

that is it, the thing with gord’s lyrics.  they are looking at the world both literally and figuratively.  they are encouraging reflection and relating us all to the human condition we sometimes forget because we dismiss it out of hand.  they cause pause.  they also comment on interesting things that happen, the one that stands out the most is the change in law and the line from poets: ‘lawns cut by bare breasted women‘.  i suppose it stands out because i lived through that as an old enough human to make the direct link between current affairs and the lyrics.  the woman had a point:  why can old ugly guys take their shirts off when cutting the grass but i can’t?

we can’t forget the music either.  from classic canadian style rock to all sorts of other interesting sounds to trigger things in us, there are not many hip songs i dislike.  the reality is i do not know much about music technically but i do know how it makes me feel.  tiger the lion gives me chills every time i listen to it.  i love music that makes me feel weird.  there are few artists that can send an eerie feeling up or down my spine.  another band i can think of having similar feeling was when i saw the scottish national ballet perform to radiohead’s music.  the awkwardness in music was brought to life by awkward movements in dance.  interpretive indeed.

on their live between us album, a favourite of mine, gord asks the audience to recognise the band playing before them [i think it was the rheostatics] and says ‘we’re all richer for having seen them here tonight’.  that praise was genuine.  gord has brought something to this high tech world that is so rare.  a thinking, caring, reflecting being that feels for other humans trying to figure out their way through life.

the first time the hip made me cry was in 2007.  i had lived in new zealand for a year while attending teacher training [i even introduced my students to the hip’s music], worked in a fun restaurant and toured the place with camping, hiking and kayaking.  i also ate some amazing food and spent many an afternoon drinking in the sun with pals.  when flying home from my nz adventure, i had to transfer at lax .  between los angeles and toronto i was checking out what air canada’s entertainment system had to offer.  there was a new hip album.  i wasn’t expecting to cry but the thought that i had been gone long enough to miss an album made me feel less canadian.

now, i always play new orleans is sinking whenever teaching the hurricane katrina case study to geographers.  the kids dig it, or at least they humour me into believing they do.  i always ask them what ‘hey north, you’re south, shut your big mouth‘ means.  it usually gets a laugh.

since the teacher training times, i have gone much longer with regard to stints away from my homeland but have managed to keep up with music as technology has allowed.  even still, i do love touching down on home soil; listening to canadian content rules [which i’m worried they might change] and doing ‘hip checks’ on the radio – meaning checking all the stations to see if one can find a hip song.

now the weirdest part of all, perhaps, is that i have always loved the hip and have never managed to see them live.  messed up, i know.  i think i got complacent and thought the hip would be around forever.  they are part of canadiana and what has made me the person i have become.  the news about gord’s cancer has put myself, along with other canadians in panic mode.  ticket companies are screwing fans and i just read that the cbc are in talks with the band about broadcasting their final concert live for all canadians to see.  i hope that happens.  i think it might be the canadian equivalent to the queen’s jubilee.  but let’s not talk about the royals…

lucky for me, a close pal has procured some tickets and i will get to see the hip in the hammer; the very place gord told strombo that is his favourite city to play in.  truth or no about it being his favourite place, i know it will be amazing.  i will also be able to tell my daughter that the hip were her first concert as she will be a month away from her debut in august.  i am so grateful that i will be richer for attending.  and if i can, i plan to make it a good life by not letting this weaken me.  instead i will appreciate how rich i have become through their words and music.

what it comes down to, is that gord can say it much better than i ever could:

i want a book that’ll make me drunk

full of freaks and disenfranchised punks

no amount of hate, no load of junk

no bag of words, no costume trunk

can make me feel the same way

an inch an hour, two feet a day

to move through night

in this most fashionable way


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