“It’s a sad thing, bourbon’s all around to stop that feeling when you’re living in a small town”
Starting with the first encounter. A smoky Toronto bar in the late eighties –The Horseshoe Tavern. I’ve been told I was at that one and that I really enjoyed it. Apparently, I danced to Small-town Bringdown. It’s still one of my favorite Hip songs. I really hated living in a small town.
“My memory is muddy, what’s this river that I’m in? New Orleans is sinking man, and I don’t wanna swim”
Jump forward two years and it’s the second date with my wife at their show at the Molson Amphitheatre. This one I remember. She was annoyed that we had to sit on the grass, just missing the awning covering when it started to rain. Not wanting to leave the show and of course wanting to be chivalrous, I removed my M65 army jacket (so wonderfully waterproof) and covered her with it. This may have been our first kiss.
“Everything is bleak… It’s the middle of the night…You’re all alone and the dummies might be right”
Now it’s 2001 and I was faced with my first mid-life crisis (there were more). I wanted to purchase a Harley Davidson motorcycle (so cliché I know). When I talked to my wife about this, she said “Can you pick something less dangerous”. And it just so happens, I had in my back pocket, an idea of backpacking through Australia for three months. Too rough a trip for her and all my friends either couldn’t get the time off or didn’t have the money. So I decided to go it alone. While my wife was supportive and understood this was something I needed to do, most thought me insane.
Now for the The Tragically Hip part.
I was a month into this adventure and suddenly I had an overwhelming feeling of loneliness, isolation and homesickness. I headed down to the beach in Noosa and sat at a picnic table debating if I should grab the next plane home. There must have been only one picnic table as a bunch of Aussie teens asked if they could join me. Aussie’s are super friendly this way. Much like Canadians I like to think. I was concerned though. Now, with all the other horrible feelings I had going, now I was going to feel OLD too. ARGH! One of them pulled out a portable musical device with external speakers and played…. wait for it…Music at Work and asked me if I had ever heard of The Tragically Hip. I’ve never been able to fully articulate the feelings I had that night but it gave me the jumpstart I needed to continue my adventure. Sure, I was still a little homesick but I certainly felt less isolated and lonely. I often wonder, what if this encounter and musical connection never happened? I would have missed two months of some of my best travel experiences.
Thank you Aussie teens wherever you are now and thank you Tragically Hip!