1988-89-90. So long ago yet so many vivid memories in my mind. At that time in my life I was hanging out around Regina, seeing bands, getting into small clubs and drinking Pilsner on the weekends. No social media distractions, wondering what other people were doing. Just being.
And it was during this time, that I first saw the Tragically Hip.
I can’t remember exactly the date of that first show. We used to frequent a small club called The Venue in Regina, which hosted many different bands every weekend. The Hip, Spirit of the West, the Skydiggers, The Waltons and even bigger bands like the Black Crowes (which caused me to go deaf for a few days after). Club posters would be posted at the University, and my boyfriend at the time, who was very into music, would plan our weekend dates around who was playing. Our friends would all be there, and it didn’t matter that I was underage, we hung out and drank beer and saw some amazing music.
Later on, as the Hip got bigger, we followed them around a bit, driving to Saskatoon to see them at the Bessborough Gardens and to Gimli Manitoba to see them at the legendary rock festival, Sunfest. What I remember about those times was the pure unadulterated joy. Grooving to the music amongst a bunch of sweaty young adults, feeling that this music was something great. Gord Downie was magnetic, albeit strange-seeming to my younger self, but I appreciated his voice and his artistry. Like so many young people at the time, there was feeling in the air that you were witnessing something bigger than yourself each time you saw them on the stage.
Living in Tache Hall residence at the University of Manitoba meant that the Hip was playing through the hallways the often. When the album Road Apples was released, I remember running over to the University bookstore with friends to get a cassette copy to play in my car. So many road trips across the Prairies over the next several years started with Little Bones playing in my vehicle. Later, I spent many late night hours in studio in the Architecture II building, drafting along to Wheat Kings and and Courage.
As I grew older and moved West, life changed and I lost touch with their music. I still loved them, but marriage and kids and other things happened – going to see bands just didn’t happen as much anymore. Like many Canadians, I was so proud of them when they appeared on Saturday Night Live, and I felt like soon the world was going to discover them and love them like we did.
It wasn’t until the late 2000’s that I started listening again, ready to revisit that time in my life, and the songs of my youth. And some of those memories of pure joy came flooding back. We watched the Farewell Tour on CBC last August, and saved it on our PVR to re-watch. Just two days ago, our hard drive failed and we lost all of our recordings.
The universe can be eerily prophetic sometimes.
Today, I choose to remember the music, and so many wonderful life moments listening to the Tragically Hip.
I am inspired to spend this time on earth a little more wisely – Contributing. Growing. Caring.
Like Gord did.