In late winter 2002 I was living in Tokyo. I quit both my jobs, keeping just a few private tutoring gigs to keep the rent paid and the lights on, and set about writing my first novel. Though thankfully that sincere but botched effort was never eyeballed by more than a few unfortunates, I retain happy memories of the 7 weeks it took me to churn out the thing, hunched over a desk in a cold apartment (I was afraid to turn the heat up too high), chain-smoking and drinking cheap coffee in the mornings, cheap bourbon at nights, waiting for my girl to come round so I could put the pen down.
On the cusp of the MP3 era, all I had was a limited CD collection, listened to over and over. Thankfully, a good friend lent me Up To Here, by The Tragically Hip. Every time I hear this song, “Boots or Hearts”, I wish I’d learned to play the guitar:
Normally I don’t post live videos, preferring the polished work of studio albums. But the lead singer Gordon Downie is manic live, as evidenced by the Killer Whale Tank version of “New Orleans Is Sinking”. You’ve got to listen to the whole thing.
I was actually introduced to The Hip by my little brother via a mix CD featuring “Nautical Disaster”. Still one of my favorite Hip songs, a decade on.
(I also normally don’t post actual music videos, but these guys are the first bona fide rock stars I’ve posted on, sporting their own YouTube channel and everything, so I’m going to.)
Straight up rock and roll. What’s not to like about Canada’s finest export? Especially here by the 100th meridian where, you know, the great plains begin. Here’s Gordon Downie doing the finest whiteboy shuffle this side of Michael Stipe: