It was Ramadan, May 1988, and I was even more spaced out than usual, subsisting on a strange student diet of fig cakes and arroz y garbanzo. After an afternoon at the Prado, I found myself wandering one evening near the palacio de deportes and magically happened upon a Leonard Cohen en concierto esta noche sign. But what would I do? How would I ever afford a ticket?
Certainly, there are bands that are more famous, have sold more albums and put on bigger shows, but you'd be hard-pressed to find one that captured a country's attention -- at least 11.7 million of us, according to CBC -- like The Hip did that night in Kingston.
The whole country came together. Not since Terry Fox have we seen such a strong example of how a Canadian could summon so much national camaraderie among the people.... All we had to do was sing along to songs we knew by heart, allow ourselves to feel the moment, let our tears express how we felt, let our fellow Canadians know we were all in this together, and then, as a nation, say goodbye to Gord Downie. The best part is we will never really say goodbye to The Tragically Hip. As long as we have kids, camping trips, road trips, backyard barbecues, headphones and private moments, we will never have to say goodbye.
The summer after grade 12, driving the family minivan, down Duckworth Street. "Boots or Hearts." Harbour Drive, back through Water and George Street, if it was early enough. "Pigeon Camera." Back up Portugal Cove Road, bouncing wildly over the Rennie's Mill River bridge. "Blow at High Dough."
The Tragically Hip has heavily influenced Canadians ever since the band first broke the scene 30 years ago, and The Hip's music continues to influence Canadians of all ages to this day. Canadian music has become synonymous with The Tragically Hip. In addition to their music being adored across the country, each of their 14 studio albums is laced with lyrics that pay homage to Canada.
Postage stamps in some respects represent a vestige of a past age. But these portraits in miniature can still serve as a powerful reminder of who we are as a people -- and whom we treasure. Gord Downie is proof positive of that.
On the night of Friday, August 12th, at the Air Canada Centre, I saw one of my all-time favourite bands play for the last time ever. I warned my friend I would probably cry at the end of the show, but it only took the first song for my eyes to well up with tears. the feeling was very surreal, as the circumstances were not of your typical farewell tour.
While more fashionable bands have faded into musical footnotes, the Hip has enjoyed a 32-year career and domestic deification. But now the part of their name that has the most resonance as the Hip rocks its way across the nation one final time is "tragically." Not that you could tell from the surface euphoria onstage and in the stands as Gord Downie's incurable brain cancer took a backseat for a couple hours of communal rock catharsis during the band's 25-song concert at Toronto's Air Canada Centre.
When Drake strutted into the ACC arena on August 1, dressed all in black with an OVO shirt and a beard, he wasn't just the biggest star onstage or even the biggest rapper in hip hop. Drake can legitimately claim to be the biggest star in music and so he invited the only others operating at his level this year.
Feel good sadness. Nostalgia music. Quintessentially Canadian. That's what the Tragically Hip was to us when we were in high school in the 90s. Gord Downie's voice was omnipresent, whether it was a bush party, a school dance, on the way to a buddy's cottage, or at the cottage having a few beers and sitting on the dock.
No one can say for certain how many concert works by Canadian composers have been heard at the White House. We do know the University of Toronto's Matthew Emery was surprised in December to learn -- after the fact -- that he had written one of them.
In a cyclical way I feel music discovery now is like it was pre-internet, when people bought singles on 45. The internet and technology have made it easier than ever to record, release, download, stream, share, playlist, shazam, post and blog. There is so much music available -- it is really amazing.
Always on the go and up to a new and interesting project, David Ellefson -- legendary bassist and co-founding member of Megadeth -- has made a huge success out of his talents during a lifetime of work in the music industry.
When you're in it, hang on, don't give up and do not trust everything you are telling yourself. We wrote "Ignite" as a message saying that the pain will pass and you can absolutely ignite your soul, no matter how bad it's gotten.
A long time ago, in a Canadian music industry far, far away, the federal government had to step in with CanCon quotas to save our singers and musicians from being buried by radio hits from our southern neighbours. Now I wouldn't be surprised if the U.S. built a Trump wall to keep our artists out.
Raised in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, Peter James went on to broaden his horizons exploring the world while playing in cover bands. To say he is well-travelled would be an understatement. With 15 years of globetrotting under his belt, he's collected memories like passport stamps.