I’m back from vacation, and I can’t even believe I’m already thinking about school for my kids. I don’t know about anyone else, but this was truly the shortest summer ever! I start ordering school curriculum this week, and our first parent meeting is on Friday. Goodbye carefree days!
College application time begins for Gavin. He is a senior, and forgive me as I stumble over those words. As with my daughter Heather, I fluctuate between joy and sorrow. The time went by so fast. Yet, I’m also ready to let him use his wings and fly on his own. I can see that he needs to do some of the hard work to finish growing on his own without my constant guidance, and I’m ready for that.
Heather, my oldest, left with the rest of her things last night. It is time for her to settle in to apartment living. Today she begins her sophomore year in college. I know I’m going to blink and she’ll be graduating. Not ready.
Our vacation was wonderful. Two weeks spent in Arches National Park in Utah and then up to Yellowstone National Park. We did everything from hiking and horseback riding, to taking a boat tour and seeing a rodeo. (my first one) I focused on family. Writing and Duran Duran would wait. Of course, that worked until my darling husband and brother-in-law mentioned “Hungry Like the Wolf”, every day. (Can’t get away even if I try!) We arrived back at home on Saturday night, in time to read about Tragically Hip’s last concert.
In full disclosure, I don’t know much about Tragically Hip. I recognize the name, but that’s about it. They weren’t huge in America, but I suspect that if I listened to a song, I’d probably recognize it. I’m funny that way. Names don’t stick, but music does. In any case, all I knew was that the band was giving a final concert, and it seemed to me that all of Canada was going to stop and watch. And they did. But why?
Gord Downie, the lead singer of Tragically Hip, is dying from brain cancer. His prognosis is the absolute worst, and yet this guy decides to spend his last days doing what he loves. It’s almost a “fuck you anyway” to the cancer, along with a warm final embrace to the country he loves. You see, it wasn’t just ONE show as a good-bye. No, he’s been touring the country with his band. It was just this final show that was televised in town centers and on televisions, preempting the Olympics, and even had the PM in attendance. It seems to me, as just an ordinary American, that for just one night, Canada was wrapped-up in fandom.
And I loved reading that.
Maybe fandom isn’t really much of a story. And maybe if I personally had my own juicy secrets to share it’d be more interesting, but you know, there’s this other side to it all that fascinates the hell out of me and I’m compelled to share. And maybe, just maybe, that fascination is happening to you too, dear reader.
An entire country put aside their lives to rejoice in the music and career of a band, along with the outstandingly well-used life of one man for just one night. It made me wonder if that could ever happen here, in the states.
Sadly, I found myself doubting. Do we even have artists we consider to be national treasures on quite that scale? Bruce Springsteen? Madonna? What about Michael Jackson? Prince? Sure, they’ve passed – but what about beforehand? Did we really think enough to love or embrace them before destiny came to call? I don’t know. I see America as such a throw-away society at times.
We hug really tightly (sometimes much too tightly), and then we cast aside in favor of the next big thing. Can anyone really see the US doing something similar for any performing artist out there? Let’s face it, even if you can imagine an artist of that caliber, can you imagine preempting a sporting event in favor of performing arts of any kind?? And, if you can get past all of that in your head, can you see a vision of your town coming out to watch a broadcast of such a thing in your town center?
The Olympic Torch came through my town when I was about 13. My family packed chairs and sat on Arrow Highway to see it go past. My entire neighborhood, if not quite all of the Charter Oak area, was there. And then there was Hands Across America. I remember standing and holding hands with strangers along the same street, but for the life of me I can’t remember why, or how I felt doing it.
I guess that’s the difference. Those events, while marked in my memory, have no reasoning or emotion earmarked with them. Fandom, on the other hand, is all about emotion. All of Canada shared in those emotions with Tragically Hip this past weekend. Maybe there’s something to be learned here.
Remarkably sad. Incredibly uplifted. Hopeful. All things I feel when reading about that concert…and all things that music really gives. I am left remembering words that Simon said each night while introducing “Save a Prayer”— those of us who have hope cannot give in to the evil around us. He is right, whether that evil is a disease we cannot control, or potential violence that threatens us each day.