An Un hip Tragedy
written by Scotty Evil
To not be shocked by the announcement that Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip has incurable brain cancer, one would have to be pretty insensitive. It goes without saying how big of an icon in music, let alone the Canadian scene, this band is. I liked them from the start and admired their ability to stay true to themselves through decades of a changing industry. Hundreds of one-hit wonders from the late 80’s and then the 90’s, left in the dust while The Hip continued to produce.
But I’m going to stop the diatribe there. You can read countless versions of the same thing from radio stations, musicians, journalists, politicians and the occasional music blogger. Do I use the same hashtag they are all using, #CourageForGord ..? Sure, because this is the internet, and sometimes you have to use what’s trending to give people a chance to see your thoughts in a sea of Facebook posts and Twitter feeds.
But it just doesn’t feel right. In fact, it feels downright icky to me.
And after the swings of emotion subside, one’s head gets to thinking. For me, it tends to be in the shower that I turn things over in my mind. Clears my head.
So let’s recap. Gord gets a diagnosis in December. Now one might assume they were already working on the latest album to be released (June 7th, 2016 specifically) and then they release the first single, “In a World Possessed by the Human Mind” early in April. Some of the lyrics are a little eerie.
“Just give me the news
It can all be lies
Exciting over fair or the right thing at the right time”
But it could be coincidence. Then again, a few artists of late have produced albums knowing full well they had a terminal diagnosis. Freddie Mercury. David Bowie. I know I do my best work under a deadline. The irony of the word is not lost on me.
But, I digress. Music is a gigantic money making machine. From the moment an artist writes a song, it begins to be monetized. But knowing the creator of that art has not long on this earth? That cashing in soon becomes creepy and opportunistic.
For Tragically Hip fans, the news of one more tour is good, despite the eventual end. But where there is money to be made, the emotional reason and purpose falls away to be replaced by good old capitalism.
The ticket prices haven’t been listed on Ticketmaster as of this writing. In fact, they don’t even have the Victoria or Vancouver dates listed at all.
The dates from the Tragically Hip Facebook page are as such:
July 22 – Victoria, BC
July 24 – Vancouver, BC
July 28 – Edmonton, AB
August 1 – Calgary, AB
August 5 – Winnipeg, MB
August 8 – London, ON
August 10 – Toronto, ON
August 12 – Toronto, ON
August 16 – Hamilton, ON
August 18 – Ottawa, ON
August 20 – Kingston, ON
And I am pleased to see that a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Sunnybrook Foundation.
Which brings me to my real point. Whether planned or not, this tour all of a sudden has a morbid hype to it. I fully expect each date to sell out in minutes. Want a decent seat? Grab a rabbit’s foot and rub Buddha’s belly, because you are going to need ALL the luck in the world. By the time promoters, official resellers, radio stations and scalpers armed with multiple accounts are done, there won’t be much left. I’d be surprised if the seats, which look like they will likely be retail priced from $60-160, will be going for any less than $500 a pop.
So will the band/promoters/Ticketmaster put any controls in place to curb/prevent scalpers and re-sellers from extorting money from fans? I doubt it. Let the free-market frenzy begin.
I honestly can’t recall a terminally ill artist announcing a tour after the news becomes public. I get a musician might want one last tour before the end, but isn’t anyone uncomfortable with the thought? New album, tour to support it. I understand. But all of a sudden the honest enjoyment or criticism of the album is replaced by hand-wringing emotionally correct overtones.
One can hope, for the good of one’s soul, that cancer research and health charities will indeed benefit. At least the band is contributing their share. But all the other hands in the pot along the way, right to the undertaker, leave a bitter taste in my mouth. I couldn’t make a living profiting on tragedy.
“There’s no simple
For anything important
Any of us do
And, yeah, the human
Of living with
It doesn’t seem fair, nor the right thing at the right time.
all rights reserved
written by Scotty Evil