Finally, I have returned to Neurotic City … sorry for the delay folks. Let’s play a little word association game. If I say, “97X *BAM* … “ what do you say?
I hope it is “… the future of rock and roll.” If not, I may not be able to be your friend (kidding). It was 1994 and I was driving a red Geo Storm, delivering pizzas for a pizza giant, and I was listening to 97X late one Friday night – and it hit me like a ton of bricks.
What was it? The simple drums from Johnny Fay? The interplay between the guitars from Paul Langlois and Rob Baker? Gord Sinclair’s bass? It had to be the brilliant combination of all of these, because the musical interlude at the start of the song is a good 40+ seconds – and I hung through that to hear the haunting vocals from world-class vocal enigma, Gordon Downie. And you know what? I am so glad I listened to the whole of the song “Grace, Too.”
As you may have noticed from my prior articles, I take my rock on the heavy side, driven by guitars. But that isn’t the case on this one. Yes, there are heavy guitar parts (1:08 – 1:30 and 2:19 – 2:33 among others) but not until a minute in … what was it that kept me listening this long? Was it Downie’s piercing voice served with a side of maple-syrupy madness that only his true brand of crazy can muster? Seriously, this man’s stage presence, thoughts, and his actions are not normal, but are 100% awesome – check out any video from That Night in Toronto on the YouTubes.
The thing is, this is the question that has always surrounded The Tragically Hip for me -– what kind of band is this Canadian import? Listen to their songs: “Blow at High Dough,” “Courage,” “Poets,” “At the Hundredth Meridian,” “50 Mission Cap,” “Ahead By a Century,” “Thugs,” and others. Report back to me when you have a good classification for these Canucks. Some call it Canadian Rock -– I prefer heavy folk.
But let’s get back to the problem at hand (I feel a YouTube rabbit hole opening) — the best part of “Grace, Too.” If you don’t want to listen to the whole song (big big mistake), skip ahead to 3:30 and listen through to the end. Here you get a crescendo that builds from the final chorus -– a cacophony of guitars, bass, and drums, highlighted by Downie’s shrieks. This right here is The Tragically Hip. An amalgamation of styles, sounds, and emotions that can help try to bring some sort of definition to this interesting band. Hopefully the link takes you to The Tragically Hip channel on YouTube so you too can find yourself falling down this rabbit hole of sound.
No dress rehearsal — this is our life.