The Never-ending Present: The Story Of Gord Downie And The Tragically Hip by Michael BarclayThe Never-ending Present: The Story Of Gord Downie And The Tragically Hip by Michael Barclay

The Never-ending Present: The Story Of Gord Downie And The Tragically Hip

byMichael Barclay

Hardcover | April 3, 2018

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The biography of "Canada's band"

In the summer of 2016, more than a third of Canadians tuned in to watch what was likely the Tragically Hip's final performance, broadcast from their hometown of Kingston, Ontario. Why? Because these five men were always more than just a band. They sold millions of records and defined a generation of Canadian rock music. But they were also a tabula rasa onto which fans could project their own ideas: of performance, of poetry, of history, of Canada itself.

In the first print biography of the Tragically Hip, Michael Barclay talks to dozens of the band's peers and friends about not just the Hip's music but about the opening bands, the American albatross, the band's role in Canadian culture, and Gord Downie's role in reconciliation with Indigenous people. When Downie announced he had terminal cancer and decided to take the Hip on the road one more time, the tour became another Terry Fox moment; this time, Canadians got to witness an embattled hero reach the finish line.

This is a book not just for fans of the band: it's for anyone interested in how culture can spark national conversations.

Michael Barclay has worked for Maclean's, CBC Radio's Brave New Waves, and Exclaim!. He co-authored Have Not Been the Same: The CanRock Renaissance 1985-1995, which told the stories of the Tragically Hip, Blue Rodeo, k.d. lang, and dozens more. He lives in Toronto.
Title:The Never-ending Present: The Story Of Gord Downie And The Tragically HipFormat:HardcoverProduct dimensions:504 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.36 inShipping dimensions:9 × 6 × 1.36 inPublished:April 3, 2018Publisher:ECW PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1770414363

ISBN - 13:9781770414365

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Worth the Time to Read This book is more than just The Hip. It shows the journey with true Canadian themes throughout. While the book is a little long and has a couple of dry parts, it maintains interest throughout and provided some information I never knew about the band.
Date published: 2018-08-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So Much More than Just the Hip A wonderful addition to any music lovers collection. I love that it reaches past the band to the producers and all others involved in the creation of music by artists that didn't forget their roots or family values. The author did an amazing job highlighting the fact that The Tragically Hip are real, down to earth guys that just happened to make up a truly iconic Canadian band whose music will continue to impact so many more generations to come.
Date published: 2018-08-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Must read #plumreview A beautiful tribute to an intelligent, well spoken Man's life, who gave of himself and his song to all.
Date published: 2018-07-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hiptastic Essential Hip reading. I loved getting the stories behind the songs.
Date published: 2018-06-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great! Love the Hip. Great read learning about the entire group.
Date published: 2018-06-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Awesome read Inspiring, Incredible and Iconic.................Gord was not only an amazing performer but the epitome of a true humanitarian - he will be loved and missed forever.
Date published: 2018-05-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Canadian Icon In life he was such an inspiration, first through his music and, nearing the end, his dedication to leaving a legacy... Hands down a Canadian legend.
Date published: 2018-05-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Beautiful Tribute! a beautiful (and well written) tribute to an amazing performer! Worth the read!
Date published: 2018-04-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Book! definitely a great book to add to anyones collections.
Date published: 2018-04-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lovely!! Truly a worthy read....Gordon...loved and missed!!
Date published: 2018-04-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lo So wonderful. Totally lived this book. Can’t wait to read again!
Date published: 2018-04-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from yes yes yes gordon downie was loved by a nation. he will live forever in our hearts
Date published: 2018-04-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Hip and Canadian must read If you think that you know all that is to know about the Hip...wrong this book tells you all and it was an amazing read! Loved it!
Date published: 2018-04-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Master Class on The Hip Michael Barclay completely blew me away with this book. It would be a disservice to pigeonhole this as a biography about the Tragically Hip - yes the focus of the book is the Hip, however it is not just a biography of the 5 guys in the band, rather, of the footprint they made in music history, and that includes an in depth look at every person and event that shaped the band into the 30 year success story they are. This book is like a master class on the Hip, and as a fan of both the band, and Gord Downie, having such a deep dive into the band was such an absolute read. This book is sprawling in the history it covers - literally every step on the path, from the inception of the band in high school right through to the last days of Gord's life. Michael left no one out of this retrospective - this is the Hip on the largest scale possible - the band, yes, and of course a focus on Gord, but also the producers, agents, engineers, the bands music peers, family, fans, Hip cover bands, roadies, industry players - the list goes on. So many individuals who played a part in the history of the Hip are included, and that shapes the story in a way that gives it legs, and brings the band to life off the pages. This book made me laugh out loud more than once, and unabashedly shed a few tears. This will be a book that Hip fans love, of course, but more than that, this is a book for that anyone with a love and respect for music and music history - Hip fan or not.
Date published: 2018-04-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A MUST read for any Hip and Canadian music fan. This is an amazingly well put together history of The Hip which also encompasses the entire Canadian rock scene. There was tons in here that was all new to me, and it was also a really great trip down memory lane. As if I didn't already love the band, it made me like them even more!!
Date published: 2018-03-23

Read from the Book

Day for NightJimmy McDonough: "Did you want destroy your audience as soon as you got it?" Neil Young: "Turnover. Like in clubs where they turn over the audience. Did you ever notice that if the same audience stays, the second set usually isn't as good as the first set? But if they turn the audience over, the second set could be better than the first set? Because with me that's the way it is." -- Rock'n'roll should make you scared. It'd kinda what it does. Scared with the thrill of intoxication, of sexuality, of danger, of staring into either the darkest abyss or the most blinding light. If you're the money man, however, your greatest fear is that the record just won't sell. When Allan Gregg first heard Day for Night, he called Jake Gold. He told him, "Look, 'Nautical Disaster' is a radio hit. The rest is almost unlistenable. They're not finished. They have to go back into the studio." Gold brought this news to the band. It did not go over well. A meeting was called. "This is the finished record," the band insisted. Then, being Canadian, they offered Gregg a gentle out: "We think it might be better to have you as a friend than as a manager." Gregg was ready for this news. He'd had a hell of a year, during which the Hip's ascension was the only good thing going for him. In the fall of 1992, he led the failed referendum campaign in favour of the Charlottetown Accord. One year later, he was campaign manager for prime minister Kim Campbell's election campaign, in which the governing Progressive Conservatives were driven to a fifth-place finish in the general election, threatening to wipe the founding political party of the country off the map. On top of that, he was surrounded by cancer: both his father and his best friend died of it, and his wife was diagnosed. He wasn't totally happy with recent band decisions, either: they had gone to Australia and filmed a video for "At the Hundredth Meridian" that Gregg thought was a "fucking abomination." He was exhausted. So when the Tragically Hip dropped off a mysterious, murky album on his desk with no obvious singles, he was less than receptive. "Look," he told them at the band meeting, "at the end of the day, your fucking name is on this record-not mine. If you can live with this shit, that's up to you. But I won't have any part of it." Though he remained a financial partner with Jake Gold in the Management Trust, Gregg receded into the background and didn't have any direct involvement with the Tragically Hip again. Day For Night sold 300,000 copies in the first four days of its release on Sept. 6, 1994. It went on to sell 300,000 more. (Fully Completely, by comparison, took three months to sell its first 200,000 copies.) It spawned six radio singles and four videos. In February 1995, it allowed the band to launch the biggest-ever tour of Canada by a homegrown band, playing the arenas in ever major market, sometimes with multiple dates; it was a feat they would repeat two years later. It was by no means a sure bet; Allan Gregg had every reason to be antsy. The Tragically Hip had gone dark. It's right there in the title. They left the radio-ready ways of Fully Completely behind and made a sludgy record that was more Eric's Trip than Tom Cochrane. They could have gone bright pop. They could have cashed in and gone grunge, playing catch-up with Pearl Jam. They could have wrapped themselves in the flag. They didn't. Because of Fully Completely's blockbuster status, the Hip found themselves in a position to indulge. For the first time in their career, they were not eager to please. It was time to roll the dice. -- An artist's first album after a massive success is always tricky. Do you try to climb the same mountain? Do you try to climb a similar mountain? Or do you try deep-sea diving instead? Fleetwood Mac's Tusk. Prince's Around the World in a Day. Bruce Springsteen's Tunnel of Love. REM's Automatic for the People. Nirvana's In Utero. Radiohead's Kid A. All those records rejected a formula that had reaped considerable commercial reward just a few years before, a formula that made all those artists household names. All those records were welcomed by a collective WTF, only to embraced as classics, some sooner than later. The Hip didn't necessarily know what they wanted, but they knew what they didn't: a repeat of the Fully Completely experience. Downie had described the London studio where it was made as a "fairly sterile environment," and that they "were lucky enough to pull a record out of it that we liked and had some sense of atmosphere. We vowed never to do that again." They knew who they wanted to help them shake up their sound. The choice was obvious: Daniel Lanois, with whom they'd toured on the 1993 Another Roadside Attraction tour. His first two solo albums, Acadie and For the Beauty of Wynona, were Hip favourites. And, obviously, he'd made three of the biggest international records of the last 10 years: Peter Gabriel's So and U2's The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby. Not to mention Robbie Robertson's solo album, the Neville Brothers' Yellow Moon, Bob Dylan's Oh Mercy, and a slew of great Canadian new wave records in the early '80s (Martha and the Muffins, Parachute Club, Luba), as well as his work with Brian Eno on ambient music. The biggest new rock band in Canada working with the country's most internationally acclaimed producer: it seemed like a perfect fit. Except that Lanois turned them down. But the Hip were also friendly with Lanois's right-hand man, engineer Mark Howard, who was responsible for helping Lanois translate his ideas to tape, and also assisted in setting up studios in wonderfully weird parts of North America. It was Howard who, during the first Another Roadside Attraction, recorded the "Land" single in Calgary, featuring Midnight Oil, Crash Vegas, Lanois and the Hip. Watching him work was a revelation after Fully Completely, which Howard says, "was just a common way of making records. They hated it so much. When they saw how I made that song with them on the road, it opened their eyes to thinking, 'Wow, we could make a whole record like this.' " The Hip decided to go back to New Orleans and hire Howard as co-producer. After years under Lanois's wing, this was his first production credit for a major client. Lanois wasn't around; he and Howard had just finished setting up shop in a Mexican mountain cave. "The walls were all natural rock and there was a grass roof over it and it looked over the Sea of Cortez," says Howard. After making that new studio functional, Howard flew back to New Orleans and started work on what would be Day For Night.

Table of Contents


Chapter One: Beginnings

Chapter Two: Up to Here / Road Apples

Chapter Three: Tribute bands

Chapter Four: Fully Completely / Another Roadside Attraction

Chapter Five: American albatross

Chapter Six: Day For Night / Another Roadside Attraction II

Chapter Seven: Machismo and femininity in performance

Chapter Eight: Trouble at the Henhouse / Live Between Us / Another Roadside Attraction III

Chapter Nine: Hipped? Check.

Chapter Ten: Phantom Power/ Music @ Work

Chapter Eleven: "It's better for us if you don't understand."

Chapter Twelve: Coke Machine Glow

Chapter Thirteen: Poetry

Chapter Fourteen: In Violet Light/ Battle of the Nudes / In Between Evolution / That Night in Toronto / Greatest Hits

Chapter Fifteen: Surviving as Canadian classic rock band

Chapter Sixteen: World Container / We are the Same

Chapter Seventeen: Next generations

Chapter Eighteen: The Grand Bounce / Now for Plan A / Sadies album / Fully Completely

Chapter Nineteen: 2016: Man Machine Poem / tour.

Chapter Twenty: Cancer and other curses

Chapter Twenty-One: Secret Path and reconciliation

Chapter Twenty-Two: Aug. 20, 2016

Epilogue: the aftermath

Editorial Reviews

"Barclay combines his admiration of the band with his knowledge of the music industry to make a clever, touching, and very informative book that may well be the definitive work on an important piece of Canadian pop culture." - starred review"The Never-Ending Present climaxes with that exclamation mark, that night in August 2016, and even though the material borrows heavily from Barclay's in-depth reporting and the time for Maclean's, I minded little; it was appointment reading for me then, and it is a full and evocative accounting of the occasion now. It helps to explain why an event that had every reason to seem sad and funereal instead ended up indeed feeling like 'a national celebration.'" - Literary Review of Canada"Woven from a vast range of secondary sources as well as new interviews with crucial figures in the band's community and orbit, shot through with both a critic's rigour and a fan's fervour, it's a book fully worthy of its beloved subjects' unique place in the Canadian firmament." - Montreal Gazette"Barclay's remarkable chronicle of the Tragically Hip is as wide as it is deep. He sets down their story with a historian's care and an artist's rambling curiosity, revisiting each note with wit, expertise and so much heart. It's eminently readable, clever and funny - what an achievement." - Sean Michaels, Giller Prize-winning author of Us Conductors"Laying out the history of the band from the early years of its members and its founding in Kingston in the 1980s through to Downie's final weeks, The Never-Ending Present is indeed as definitive a work on the band as anything that exists, and stands on its own against last year's excellent documentary of the band, Long Time Running." - Winnipeg Free Press