While everybody (rightfully) talks about Nashville, New Orleans, New York, London, Memphis and Detroit as hotbeds of music, a lot of good stuff has been spawned right here in the Great White North. I'm going to bid farewell to 2010 with a nod to the group I consider Canada's best over the last 25 years. Oh, I hear the grumbling from you Rush fans. Tough tamales. Start your own blog. (Without actually checking, I bet there's a few already dedicated to Geddy, Neil and Alex.)
But my vote for the maplest of leaves goes to The Tragically Hip. Fronted by the brilliant, if a tad erratic, Gord Downie, The Hip's music is every bit about the land as Gordon Lightfoot's. The light weave of their melodies is shot through with threads of black. This is, after all, Canada -- a country of stark beauty, some of which is shrouded in darkness for months at a time.
The Hip are always interesting musically. The band is tight. And Downie's passionate and poetic vocals reflect both the delicate beauty and harsh reality that epitomizes our country.
I'm going to open with a young Hip and their very first single. The video is just about as puzzling as the lyrics. But Blow At High Dough still kicks ass.
Bobcaygeon is another favourite, only partly because the town isn't far from me and I've been there many times. Mostly it's because it's just a good song. Here, we find a considerably more mature Gord Downie starring in another bit of a head-scratching video (albeit with a brilliant ending). But again, the song's the thing. And it's a beauty.
My absolute favourite song of theirs is the hauntingly melodic Ahead By A Century. By now, none of you will be suprised to find another enigmatic tune and video. I admit it. Many of the songs I like best have an element of the obscure. Few things bring me greater joy than hearing a song for the 1000th time and finding something new. The Hip's songs have that sort of layering.
At midnight we're going ahead by a year, but for now, let's skip ahead with The Hip by a century.
Thanks for keeping me company. I wish you all a healthy and fulfilling 2011.