While it didn’t necessarily start when news of Gord Downie’s illness was announced, covers of the Tragically Hip’s music certainly have flourished since then.
And why not? These are wonderfully written songs, complete with skilled storytelling and great compositions that feel like stepping into the lives of fully formed characters just waiting to step up to the mic and sing.
These are more than just songs to sing with buddies around the campfire. These are more than just party songs. They’re also more than words and melodies to reflect back a multifaceted and flawed and wonderful nation. There are 13 albums full of wisdom and poetry, nuance and light, love and loss and all things that make life complete.
Here’s an admittedly incomplete of 10 of the best Hip covers from artists across the nation, with one extra for good measure. Let us know in the comments which ones you’d add.
Scott Helman, Bobcaygeon from Phantom Power
Hey Rosetta!, Ahead by a Century, from Trouble at the Henhouse
Alert the Medic, Grace, Too, from Day for Night
Barenaked Ladies, Chancellor, from Coke Machine Glow, a Gord Downie solo album
The Trews, Fireworks, from Phantom Power
Arkells, My Music @ Work, from Music @ Work
Sarah Harmer and Jim Creeggan, Morning Moon, from We Are the Same
The Stereophonics, Blow at High Dough, from Up to Here
Amos the Transparent, Gift Shop, from Trouble at the Henhouse
USS, Something On, from Phantom Power
Dan Mangan, Nautical Disaster, from Day for Night
Of course, if you want a more complete playlist you can set and forget for four hours, go to the Strombo Show’s incredible tribute to the Hip for the band’s 30th anniversary, originally aired on January 1, 2017. It’s a gift.
Some musicians go one step further. They didn’t want to just sing the Hip’s songs; they wanted to create something new and different but with a little of that Hip flavour or essence that so many love.
Check these out!
It’s a fast, groovy, sneeze-and-you’ll-miss-it name drop but it’s a fun, cross-genre one that’s worth cranking up. It’s simple but doesn’t need to be more: “Tragically Hip, Ahead by a Century.”
The Glorious Sons, Gordie
A track from Kingston’s own Glorious Sons became a major moment when the band played in Toronto two nights after Gord Downie’s death. As you can see, the audience silences the song for a full minute or two with their applause and shouts, a therapeutic moment in week when many of us were really hurting. Sometimes only the right song can make things better, even if it’s just for a moment.
The Trews, … And We Are The Trews
Our Lady Peace, Ballad of a Poet (for Gord Downie)