My high school years weren't the most idyllic. I went to a high school where I never quite felt like I fit in. There were, however, some great times, some great people and some moments I still recall fondly. One happy memory is going listening to and talking about how much we liked The Tragically Hip
You see, the Hip are our band. They're Canada's. I mean, we've got some fantastic music here and most often we're very happy to share it with the rest of the world. But the Hip? They're ours and, quite frankly, we don't care if anyone else has ever heard of them.
I first started listening to the Hip in high school. They had already put out a few albums and were huge, but their biggest (and arguably their best) were just coming out. My brother went to see them live and told me how awesome they were, and I knew one day I'd have to go see them in concert.
These guys have captured the essence of what it felt like to grow up in Canada in the past 20 years or so. Their songs talk about national events; hockey games, newsworthy stories, national heroes. Their songs talk about our prairies, our vast country, our culture. Their songs talk about things that only a Canadian, growing up in our fine country would really get. Their songs have been a soundtrack to my life. Each time they bring out a new album (and they have around 12 right now) there's a hit or a song that resonates with us and makes us sing along. Each time they bring out a new album, I think "well, maybe this one won't be good... they have to fade out eventually, right?" Not yet, and how many bands can you say that for? These guys rock consistently.
Last night, I went to a Tragically Hip concert for the first time. I've wanted to go for years. I discovered the Hip nearly 15 years ago, but at that time I wasn't a concert goer. No car, no money, no parental permission. Up until last year, this town didn't have an arena big enough for the Hip to come to, and going to Vancouver for a show isn't always feasible when you live here since you need to pay for the concert, the travel, meals and a place to stay. So last night, at our town's shiny new arena, I got to see my boys play. And, man, they blew the roof off the place.
I love concerts, big and small, but I also go to them with the understanding that the performer is touring to promote their latest album, so I went to this show fully expecting to hear all of the band's new songs, with maybe an oldie or two thrown in for good measure.
My boys blew that old concert going theory to shreds.
If I made a list of my favourite songs from my favourite albums, it's as if Gordie and the boys were playing off of that list. I mean, it can't be too hard for them to please crowds here. We've been fans for years, most of us and we know their songs very well. And, they've got so many great songs, so many fantastically popular songs. It was just awesome 'cuz they pumped out hit after hit after hit. They pulled from their early early stuff, and they pulled from their latest album. They belted out a ton of songs from the album I'd have on repeat in high school and through my first degree and they played their two best ballads.
I love this band and I'm so glad I was finally able to see them live. My brother was right, they were awesome. Not only did the Hip play a great live show, they made me damn proud to be Canadian and they played the songs from the soundtrack of my life. The songs that play during the happy scenes.
I don't know many bands that are so well known and well loved by an entire country. I mean, I'm sure not everyone loves them, but everyone knows them. And that's saying something. They're loved and known by generations of Canadians and that's pretty cool. And to top it all off? They're great!
I found my high school yearbooks last week when I was cleaning up for New Years. I flipped through them all, reading the things people had written, some names no longer meaning anything, some making me smile and wonder what they're up to now.
On the back page of my senior yearbook, my high school sweetheart had written me a note. We'd been long broken up when he wrote it, but we still cared for each other, and if I saw him today, I'd still care for him just as much. First loves can be like that.
As I read over what he had to say, I thought about the great times we'd had together, and the parties we'd gone to, especially the one at his best friend's house where the Hip was played over and over.
He ended up with a quote he said best described me, some lyrics from a Hip song; the title of this post. How fitting that he quoted The Tragically Hip. I hadn't realized it at the time, but they were our band. All of us. All of us bright, young, idealistic kids looking forward to a future we could only start to imagine. It's a scary time, high school, and I guess he wanted to remember the happy times we'd had when we were together. They last, you know, the happy memories.
So does great music.
So do The Tragically Hip.
*If I had to choose one album to recommend, this would be the one. Go buy it now