No Dress Rehearsal

First thing we’d climb a tree and maybe then we’d talk
Or sit silently and listen to our thoughts
With illusions of someday casting a golden light
No dress rehearsal, this is our life

First and foremost, the man is a poet.  Sure, he and the rest of the band are rock stars. They’ve become national treasures in Canada(and I’d argue that includes a few border towns like Buffalo).  But for me, it all starts with the words. For all these years, Gord Downey has been a poet disguised as a rock star.

Who are the people generally acknowledged to be the best lyricists in the history of rock music?  Dylan and Simon would be at or near the top of anyone’s list.  Who else?  Lennon/McCartney?  I love their music and some of the lyrics are great but they wouldn’t make my list.  Jagger/Richards would definitely make my list.  Who else? Bruce, for sure.  Ray Davies for sure. I love the lyrics of Richard Thompson but he’s relatively unknown.  Gord Downey is right near the top of the list for me.

Part of what makes The Tragically Hip so interesting to me is that they combine these phenomenal words with dirty grooves and gritty, barroom, twin guitars. There is an overwhelming intelligence to this band and their music.Tomorrow night, the boys and I are traveling to Hamilton, Ontario to see them one last time.  To celebrate with them and to bring them some love from Buffalo.

It’s hard to describe to people what The Hip mean to Canada.  I’m not sure there is really an American equivalent, a band or artist so ingrained in the fabric of our country.  I’ve been reading as many articles and reviews as I can find and there was a startling statistic in one of them.  It’s estimated that 1 in every 30 households in Canada owns at least one Hip album.  One in thirty!  They are and have been a cultural phenomena for the past thirty years.

I’m very much looking forward to the show and to the night out with my friends but at the same time, I’m feeling some trepidation.  Like all of their fans, I don’t want it to end.  I don’t want to say goodbye.  Certainly not like this.  One of my friends went to the Toronto show on Friday night and put a post up on Facebook that read, “You’re not supposed to cry at rock concerts”.  That about sums it up.

This has to be an unprecedented situation in the history of popular music, right?  Has there ever been a popular artist who, after being diagnosed with an inoperable disease, goes out on a farewell tour?  The courage this must take is unimaginable to me, not just for Downey, but for the whole band and their families.  Most of us, I imagine, would want to crawl up in a fetal position if faced with a similar diagnosis.  It should also be noted that they are out there taking chances every night.  The set list varies from night to night and they’re digging deep into the catalog.  The man has brain cancer but refuses to play the same set every night!  No dress rehearsal.  This is our life.

First thing we’d climb a tree and maybe then we’d talk
Or sit silently and listen to our thoughts
With illusions of someday casting a golden light
No dress rehearsal, this is our life

And that’s where the hornet stung me
And I had a feverish dream
With revenge and doubt
Tonight we smoke them out

You are ahead by a century (this is our life)
You are ahead by a century (this is our life)
You are ahead by a century

Stare in the morning shroud and then the day began
I tilted your cloud, you tilted my hand
Rain falls in real time and rain fell through the night
No dress rehearsal, this is our life

But that’s when the hornet stung me
And I had a serious dream
With revenge and doubt
Tonight we smoke them out

You are ahead by a century (this is our life)
You are ahead by a century (this is our life)
You are ahead by a century

You are ahead by a century (this is our life)
You are ahead by a century (this is our life)
You are ahead by a century

And disappointing you is getting me down

 

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2 thoughts on “No Dress Rehearsal

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