In 2007 I experienced my first ‘Hip’ concert at The Kee in Bala, Ontario. From the first song I became a follower of ‘hip nation’. Standing beside my son I felt pure joy. For the music and because my grown son was hanging out with his mom at a concert.
Rocking out to their latest release ‘World Container’, we laughed and sang the tunes we knew. In the years to come we would see ‘The Hip’ at various venues big and small in Toronto, Hamiliton, Bellville. We also flew down to San Diego to see them perform. When we arrived at the venue the bar had been closed down. Ah well, it was a drag, except we met up with other like minded Canadians and went for beers. I’ve seen them from all vantage points and the music only gets better.
My son was so passionate about The Tragically Hips’s music that it crept into each of our lives and meant something different to each of us. We are fans and The Tragically Hip became our house band!
In 2009 our life took a very tragic turn. We lost our amazing son to suicide. The music ripped open old memories. Like the times we sung Bobcaygeon at the top of our lungs. Or played air guitar to New Orleans. Or just let the tunes surround us at the cottage.
At my son’s funeral, we arranged to have a young musician play ‘Scared’ on the piano. The lyrics and notes are intensely woven into our lives.
Eventually, their 2009 album, ‘We Are The Same’ became an anthem to our collective grief.
In my book, Give Sorrow Words (2014), I reference ‘the hip’: http://www.cbc.ca/books/mobile/touch/2014/04/one-mother-shares-her.html
Years later at a charity event for ‘Right To Play’ I had the pleasure of meeting Gord Downie. I told him how our son introduced us to the music. I also shared with him that we had lost our son.
He played his acoustic set and we chatted afterwards. He said, “Thank you for telling me about Daniel. I played harder because of him.”
At some point after Daniel’s death I began to indulge myself in the music. And then without warning ‘The Hip’ music provided comfort. Provided a ‘place to happen’ and as we began the slow, agonizing process of healing we rarely missed a concert. Always feeling like Daniel was with us.
We were there a few weeks ago at the Air Canada Centre watching The Tragically Hip’s Man Machine Poem tour. As we swayed to familiar songs there were many tears shed for what was. For our collective memories for happier times.
This week we’ve been playing ‘Yer Favourite Hits’ every night. An homage to our son. To the best music ever. To Gord Downie, his family and the band.
‘For a good life we just might have to weaken–
And find somewhere to go
Go somewhere we’re needed
Find somewhere to grow
Grow somewhere we’re needed’