Welcome! #41: The Tragically Hip with Gregg Tilston

Gregg Tilston | International Boundaries

In today’s episode I speak former musician and good friend Gregg Tilston. Back on Episode #7 we chatted about Gregg’s career to date. Today, Gregg and I discuss the recently completed Man Machine Poem Tour.

Gregg has a unique perspective on Canada’s favourite band, The Tragically Hip. In the mid to late-80s Gregg was in a new wave pop band called International Boundaries (INB). The management company they signed with also had a new band from Kingston on their roster: The Tragically Hip.

Music by Afraaz Mulji.

Also features music by The Tragically Hip: Last American Exit and Ahead By A Century.

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Last Night In Toronto: The Tragically Hip Man Machine Poem Tour

the tragically hip

the tragically hip

Last night we attended The Tragically Hip’s final Toronto date on their “farewell” Man Machine Poem Tour. It was also the second live rock concert that our (now 10 years old) son, Kahzmir, attended. The first one was on his 8th birthday to see Arcade Fire in Toronto.

the tragically hip
Attending The Hip with me are: Aneez, Vanessa, Minaz and Kahzmir

It was also the second time (that I can remember) attending the same concert with my brother, Aneez. The first concert was on New Year’s Eve 1985 to see OMD and Thompson Twins at Toronto’s old Maple Leaf Gardens.

the tragically hip

The Tragically Hip were never my favourite band. At least not that I can remember. However, they have always been part of my musical appetite since I had my first portable FM radio player. I had purchased this player on Air Canada (or maybe it was WardAir?) coming back from England in the summer of 1989 and would walk to and from Sir John A Macdonald high school in Scarborough. It was a 10 minute walk. And it was on 102.1 and/or 107.1 that I started hearing songs like Blow At High Dough, New Orleans Is Sinking, 38 Years Old, Boots Or Hearts and Trickle Down.

I didn’t know it at the time but Up To Here was most likely the album that made me appreciate the mix of poetry and rock that I came to later appreciate in all of Neil Young’s incarnations.

Since then, the Tragically Hip have always just been there. I never noticed them. I just came to expect them. They were part of rock and roll. They were (and still are) part of Canada.

Although I’ve since “misplaced” my Hip CDs and cassettes, Road Apples was my first Hip album. My favourite tune from that album is Cordelia. I have no clue what the song is about. I love the lyrics and the pulsing beat that overlay the amazing lead and rhythm guitars in Cordelia.

Fully Completely is filled with hit singles. As many as U2’s The Joshua Tree. In my opinion. The next album, Day for Night contains my favourite Hip song, Nautical Disaster. I had the lyrics of this song taped to my desk in my room. And this was before the album was ever released.

It was listening to one of these albums that got me through a serious breakup in university. Thanks for the company, boys.

I’ve been to plenty of big events and concerts. I was in attendance at the Skydome when Canada played the US in World Cup of Baseball.  I saw Halladay pitch against Burnett. I’ve been to Metallica and AC/DC concerts. Nothing can compare to the level of noise that the crowd in attendance last night created. NOTHING. It was deafening.

See my photos and videos from my view at the concert HERE.

I played air guitar, fist pumped to songs like Three Pistols and Little Bones, and generally caused Minaz and Kahzmir to look at me and shake their heads. I sang loudly to the hits. I smiled in glee then continued to rock out to songs long forgotten but still tattooed in my internal radio station.

When the show ended with Grace, Too I was caught off guard. There was no warning it was over. I wasn’t ready to say thank you. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye.

Last night’s concert was not goodbye for me. Music and songs live forever. We know Gord Downie will leave this world sooner rather than later. But the music that he created with his best friends will live on forever.

I’m thankful for the music. I always will be. I’ll always enjoy the music.

I’m thankful for Sunday August 14, 2016.

I’ll see you folks on down the road somewhere – Gord Downie

Here’s the set list from The Tragically Hip’s last show in Toronto:

  1. Blow At High Dough
  2. New Orleans Is Sinking
  3. Opiated
  4. Boots Or Hearts
  5. Machine
  6. What Blue
  7. Ocean Next
  8. In A World Possessed By The Human Mind
  9. Streets Ahead
  10. We Want To Be It
  11. Man Machine Poem
  12. At Transformation
  13. Gift Shop
  14. Flamenco
  15. Springtime In Vienna
  16. Ahead By A Century
  17. The Last Of The Unplucked Gems
  18. Three Pistols
  19. Twist My Arm
  20. Long Time Running
  21. Little Bones
  22. Escape Is At Hand For The Travellin’ Man
  23. Poets
  24. Bobcaygeon
  25. Daredevil
  26. Grace, Too

 

Gord Downie

My favourite The Tragically Hip song is Nautical Disaster. I first came upon the lyrics prior to the album Day for Night being released. I think it was in the Toronto Star and was a special piece written by Gord Downie.
 
Here are the lyrics:
I had this dream where I relished the fray and the screaming filled my head all day.
It was as though I had been spit here,
Settled in,
Into the pocket of a lighthouse on some rocky socket,
Off the coast of France, dear.
One afternoon,
Four thousand men died in the water here and five hundred more were thrashing madly as parasites might in your blood.
Now I was in a lifeboat designed for ten and ten only,
Anything that systematic would get you hated.
It’s not a deal not a test nor a love of something fated.
(Death)
The selection was quick,
The crew was picked and those left in the water were kicked off our pant leg and we headed for home.

Then the dream ends when the phone rings,
You’re doing alright he said it’s out there most days and nights,
But only a fool would complain.
Anyway Susan, if you like,
Our conversation is as faint as a sound in my memory,
As those fingernails scratching on my hull.