How many millions of Canadians are trying to sort out their feelings tonight, after what will probably be the last Tragically Hip concert?
Streamed live globally by the CBC, it was an event of national mourning for Canada.
What makes the Tragically Hip so Canadian? While it seems futile to wrangle with what that might mean, there's no denying the visceral truth of it. My reasons for loving the Tragically Hip feel like my own, but I'm not surprised that many of my fellow Canadians feel the same way. And, in an illogical way, the fact that essentially no non-Canadians think much about them at all also feels unsurprising. Their Canadian-ness is uncanny.
The lyrics of many of their songs are esoteric, and often beyond my immediate understanding without looking up what obscure elements of Canadiana they're referring to. Which I love in one way. But the way I love them even more - and perhaps this is not a flattering admission - is that somehow the vaguely nonsensical wordings can absorb and contain meanings from inside my own psyche. There's a tinge of disappointment when I discover that The Hip were coyly being explicit about a completely separate topic, but then I realize that I never have to let go of that personal definition the song ends up being steeped in. And I cling to the songs in my soul in fervent reverie. Because even though they aren't overtly works demonstrating how I'm understood by The Hip, they are totems of how I have come to understand myself.
The uncanny part is to experience other people clearly having parallel connections to The Hip's songs, to feel that they grok, to feel their... Candadian-ness?
Vibrant and luminous is how I feel inside, woven together with bright memories of joy and sorrow, when I listen to The Hip. I feel true. It's a truth that I naturally share, if somewhat self-consciously, with all the other enraptured Tragically Hip fans. Somehow, this art medium lays us bare, as our fundamental selves. Or maybe it just lets us be who we want to be inside our own heads for a few minutes. At a time, for our whole lives.
I have my hands in the river
My feet back up on the banks
Looked up to the Lord above
And said, hey man thanks
Sometimes I feel so good I gotta scream
She said Gordie baby I know exactly what you mean