I’ve only been to see Saturday Night Live live once, in 1995, and the musical guest that night was Canadian band The Tragically Hip, which I’m told all Canadians call The Hip.
What I noticed is that they took their name from an Elvis Costello lyric (Town Crier), and they rocked, but seemed oddly removed. I’ve heard about them over the years, but never really revisited them until today. They had a rep as one of those bands that can’t find an audience outside of Canada. So there you go.
But the band’s lyricist and leader, Gord Downie, died this week at 53 after a long struggle with brain cancer. Reading an obit in New York magazine turned me on to the song Fifty-Mission Cap, from a 1993 album. It’s a driving rocker that tells the shaggy dog story of a Canadian hockey player, a Maple Leaf, who disappears in 1951 while on a fishing trip, and whose body isn’t found until a 1962 plane crash. Good lyrics, tough song, weird combo. I’ll be listening some more.