It has been a week.
After wrapping up an (always intense) 3-day retreat en huis clos in a country house south of Drummondville, packing up our small recording studio and driving the two hours back to Montreal, I picked up my wife, old college flatmate Tim, a couple of beer and drove to Ottawa to meet another dear old friend Dan, freshly flown in from Fredericton. Whereupon we drank as much of said beer as possible before heading to the Buzz-kill centre in beautiful Kanata Ontario to see the penultimate show on the Tragically Hip’s Man Machine Poem tour (and possibly penultimate show ever).
Then, hung over and underslept, we drove the same in reverse, picking up kids on the way and back to the country to catch last night’s ultimate show on the tour as broadcast nationwide by our sainted public broadcaster the CBC. So lots of music, little sleep, lots of emotion and too much beer. Today I am picking up the pieces, listening through the 2+ hours of music we recorded during the retreat last week and reflecting on all things Traj and Gord.
So here is the thing, I am a massive Gord Downie fan. While my bandmates acknowledge my man-crush, they don’t really care for the music. We’re a Quebec band, remember and Quebeckers associate Gord and the Traj with RA RA CANADA jock culture. And hell, I can’t blame ‘em. It’s a steep price of entry for any hard core anti-nationalist, anti-popular-movement-of-any-sort type of person (four of which reside in this band).
But for me, it’s not about Canada or nostalgia for the halcyon years of high-school/university that keeps me riveted. My love of Gord is for a man on the move, a man at 52 who is still challenging himself to write better music (and Man Machine Poem is a hell of an album, seriously, go pick it up). The man has put out a record (either solo or with band) at a minimum every two years for over 25 years and his output spans a pretty wide rang of genres while always staying true to his unique voice.
And his writing keeps getting better
For a bunch of 40 somethings (well I’m 39) pushing ourselves to make music despite total lack of fame or fortune while courting a slow erosion of our respective marital relationships, the man is a fucking inspiration.
So when I went to see the show in Ottawa, it wasn’t to see them play Blow out the High Dough for the nth time. I wanted to see the new shit, I wanted to see a band charged up about the here and now and where they’re at. But in Kanata, we ran into a wall of RA RA CANADA jock culture (along with a wall of cars on the 417). Seems that 90% of the people I talked to had lost contact with the band and the man 20 years ago.
So I ask them: why the fuck do they go see the show, to suffer through all the “new shit” so the can hear yer favourites? And why, if they purport to love Gord Downie so much, do they insist on keeping him trapped in a time prison?
Alas few answers were given and I don’t think I made many new friends in Ottawa.
If YOU want to see a band in their prime, check out “Machine” from CBC’s broadcast Saurday night (can’t find a link). I’m going to bed.