Gord Downie yodels the lyrics to “Gift Shop,” waggling his shoulders from side to side sporadically and hitting each note with as much soul as ever. People all around me are screaming along with him, crinkly stadium beers in hand. In honour of this sombre occasion, some people even wave the odd lighter in the air in favour of the more modern equivalent, the backlit iPhone screen.
Toronto’s Air Canada Centre is loaded to the gunnels, as my dad would say. Tickets sold out immediately (largely due to the shenanigans of some corporate bots that snapped them all up). An older man sits next to me. He’s here alone. He immediately claims all of the arm and leg space feasibly available to either of us and proceeds to film the entire show on a rickety old Canon digital camera circa 2001. I forgive him his man spreading ways, though, when I see that he’s dancing along and bobbing his head to every song, puffing on a discreet little vape. I realize he’s probably even more miserable about losing the band's frontman, Gord, than I am, and decide to let his transgressions go.
Indeed, this man is not alone in his endeavours. The unmistakeable skunky-sweet odour of weed fills the air. The Tragically Hip are as Canadian as a Tim Hortons drive-thru, and the pot leaf is slowly becoming at least as Canadian as that. In backyards, kitchen parties, man caves and garages country-wide, the sounds of The Tragically Hip have mingled with the smell of pot since the late ‘80s. It stands to reason, then, that the band must reference the plant at least once or twice.
Civilized did some scouring to round up the band’s cannabis references for your end-of-summer enjoyment:
The 'Poets' Video
A clear shot of some neon green pot leaves stretches across the screen, with a school of bulbous goldfish swimming back and forth across it. The first beats of 1998’s “Poets” play, then the camera fades out to Rob Baker’s Rapunzel hair, and we see it was in an aquarium in the dank room the band’s performing in. A sign of their state of mind, perhaps?
This lowkey classic from Trouble at the Henhouse (1996) makes the super-sly reference “We were high, we were sherpa high.” This could refer to altitude, sure. But we prefer to think it has to do with the healthy amounts of cheap cannabis readily available in Nepal.
This one stems from Downie’s more country-sounding solo album, Coke Machine Glow, released in 2001. It opens with the lines, “Us middle-aged men just completing/the finishing touches on a dope deal.” If one looks closely at the garages of men anywhere in small town Canada, this is exactly what they’ll see happening.
And there you have it, friends. A few ways to wind down and appreciate The Hip as we bid Gordie a fond farewell.
Banner image: Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip perform at the NAC September 27, 2009 in Ottawa. (Paul McKinnon / Shutterstock.com)