News item: Gordon Downie, frontman of the Tragically Hip and Canadian cultural icon, is dead at 53.
The Tragically Hip are one of those bands where, if I had a little more free time and a little more pocket money, I’d buy a half-dozen of their records and jump right in.
(Other names on that list: XTC, Richard Thompson/Fairport Convention, Ornette Coleman, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Lightnin’ Hopkins.)
Perhaps it comes from having grown up with my nose metaphorically pressed against the Canadian glass. The Hip always did their best U.S. business in the cities along the Great Lakes, and I knew people in high school who were fans.
The songs of theirs I know, I generally like, except for the one I love.
“Bobcaygeon” takes its name from a small town in the Ontario countryside about 100 miles from Toronto — the sort of place where people from Toronto might keep cottages, from what I understand.
It’s a simple song of just a few chords, involving a policeman torn between a career in the city and a lover in the country, with a sidetrack in the bridge involving riots and racism.
It aches with longing and shines with starlight, and is just about as terrific a calling card as any band has yet come up with.
Or, maybe I’m full of crap. If you don’t already know the song, set aside five minutes to do nothing else but listen to it, and let me know.