Here we are at the end of August, by the glow of coke machines and VLTs. It’s hard to put into words the worth of a lifetime of music, a soundtrack to everything we’ve loved, and all we’ll lose. You’ve translated an entire nation, gave us a place to hold our identities, and hearts. Every small town hummed with every truth spoken, you offered long grasses of time, a reprieve of poetry.
I grew up spending summers around Bobcaygeon, where we’d steal Grandpa Jack’s vodka, and take to the trees. Spines to the earth, on our backs in an open field, we’d sing Hip songs, and drink in the constellations. You named a place within us; understood a landscape where the sky remains both dull, and hypothetical.
Here we are listening again, returning to the records –harnessing our Phantom Power, exchanging Day for Night, remembering all the Trouble at the Henhouse, and unlocking Man Machine Poem.
Here we are rediscovering our boat-load of nerves.
The first time I saw The Tragically Hip was when you were recording the video for “Ahead By A Century” in Brooklin, Ontario. My stepfamily lived nearby, and we circled the block a few times to catch a glimpse of a brown house with a yellow door, and the band playing outside of Medland & Sons, where you smoked us out.
Here we are a gift shop world, with illness on our minds.
Second time I caught The Hip was at Mile One in St. John’s. Fresh off the plane from Toronto, with its checkerboard floors, I was ushered downtown by my boyfriend and best friend, to see Sarah Harmer open. My flight delay made us miss most of her set. I’ll never forget how Sarah’s face lit up playing “Silver Road” with the band.
Here we are with the moon lit up. The following day, in a post show haze, a friend drowned in a lake not far from the stadium.
Courage, your word.
Here we are, the anti-social poets, on the night of your final show. A country gathered in pockets, each of us dangerous and lulled, feeling small next to everything you’ve given.
After a long time running, we’re still held together like a bunch of dancers, but falling apart. Heartsick for the loss of something familiar.
A nation whispers, let’s see what tomorrow brings.
Gord, thank you for standing on your toes, stepping up to the mic, and reminding us: this is our life.
Tragically yours, where the expanse brightens,
Shannon & the Dire Wolves