Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Hip Project - The Elite Eight at last

Killer matchups this past round. There were definitely some match-ups that would have been worthy of a final.

1. In the battle of two of the most reliable live Hip songs, Blow At High Dough defeated Grace, Too. This one was surprisingly easy. If you'd asked me before this project I probably would have said Grace would be the favourite. However, I've listened to so many stellar live versions of Grace that the studio version isn't as great as it once was - particularly the long end to the song where Gordie freestyles in concert. In this battle B@HD grabbed me from the outset and didn't release its hold until it had put Grace to the sword.

"Don't blow at high dough" is an expression Gord Downie's grandmother would use. A bit of wise matriarchal advice which suggests that you shouldn't get ahead of yourself or attempt to walk before you've crawled. (source: Hip Museum)

2. The Dire Wolf takes down Fully's Locked In The Trunk Of A Car scoring a victory for post-millennial Hip. Locked has sort of been the lost, great Hip track. For some reason it has faded from regular radio play compared to other Hip songs from the early days. And for Wolf, I've liked it from the first time I heard it and think it would be an all-time fave if it had been released in the band's heyday.

The dire wolf was one of the most common predators of the North American Pleistocene Epoch. Much larger but slower than a modern wolf, this canine possessed powerful jaws and massive teeth that helped it crush the bones of its prey. Dire wolves lived in packs and often preyed on young and weak mastodons and mammoths. They became extinct about 8,000 years ago, perhaps because the large plant-eaters on which they depended also died out. Text from the St. Louis Science Center via archives.

3. In the second Up To Here v. Day For Night slobberknocker of this round Nautical Disaster took down sentimental favourite Another Midnight. Midnight has long been one of those Hip songs that you don't hear that often but really enjoy hearing when you do. The Nautical juggernaut rolls on despite facing quality opposition in each round: Highway Girl, Scared, Another Midnight.

From Hip Museum: As the Bismarck sank, many sailors dove headfirst over the rails, breaking their necks on the lower decks or the frigid, unforgiving Atlantic itself. While the song references the crew being “picked, in order” as part of a disciplined scuttling, this is pure poetic license. In reality, chaos reigned on the Bismarck as she sank. Some Luftwaffe pilots, armed with military issue pistols, shot themselves in mid-jump rather than face the icy waters below. Other soldiers saluted the flag and sang the national anthem before leaping from the hulking wreck.

Once in the ocean, the Bismarck’s men found themselves immersed not in salt water, but in gallons of oil which had been spewing from the ship for over an hour. Some choked; others expended too much energy trying to find open water and simply drowned. At 48o ’09 north, 16o ’07 west, Captain Lindemann, thousands of his loyal seamen, technicians and soldiers, all fell into the Atlantic on board their ship. It took thirty secretaries, three full days to notify all the next of kin.

It’s at this point where Nautical Disaster begins. Our dreamer finds himself among the few sailors who managed to successfully commandeer one of the Bismarck’s lifeboats. He remarks: “I relished the fray/and the screaming filled my head all day.”

4. Lake Fever is, to me, the great Hip song that never was. It was relatively popular but Music@Work tanked as an album and Lake never really had a chance to catch on like some of the earlier songs. That said, its run ends here at the hand of Long Time Running. Dead to rights and wide awake.

5. An all-Road Apples battle pitted two very different songs in a difficult match-up: Little Bones v. Fiddler's Green. I was really leaning toward Fiddler's, but in the end it is hard to argue with Bones. The Hip are first and foremost a rock band and Bones is a fantastic rock song. You just need to crank it up and go with it. Baby, eat this chicken slow.

6. I like that two of the Hip's prettiest songs were drawn together. Ahead By A Century claims another scalp taking down World Container's title track. Adolesence, in essence, is all about trust.

7. Fifty Mission Cap v. Bobcaygeon. Is this the final?? What a match-up! Fifty Mission is tough to beat given all the history and experiences with this song - e.g. At Clark Hall Pub in '92 watching the Jays go for their first World Series win against the Braves. We asked the DJ to play Fifty Mission if they won it that night. He complied. - It might have been the Willie Nelson, it might have been the wine, but while hard to beat it was not impossible to beat and BobC claimed a major win.

8. The final matchup of this round featured Last American Exit against Emperor Penguin. For the first half of Exit I thought it would cruise. However it dragged a bit and Gord fills up every inch of that song. Penguin, with its unusual beginnig and oddball lyrics was in the end more compelling and cruised to a surprisingly easy victory. Don't sound so detached this is you and me. "The Emperor Penguin is arguably the hardiest of all Earth's dwellers." Gord Downie from the album's liner notes.

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