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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Feeling LOW on New Year's Eve

Have a good night, everyone.  If you've got nothing else going on, listen to this song:


Laina & Low

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wheat Kings (and pretty things)

Oh, the Tragically Hip. I love them so much.

Picture from

This was not always the case. As a tot, I remember despising Gord and co. with all I could muster. There was just something about their earnestness, their all-out, unapologetic Canadian-ness that I couldn't stand. The singer's voice was funny, and that guy with the long hair... just... why was his hair so long?? I couldn't comprehend it.

My feelings towards the Hip started to shift around high school. Maybe because the coolest boy in my band class showed up to school one day in a Fully Completely t-shirt. Who knows. I decided they couldn't be that bad.

Now I can say with pride that they're one of my favourite bands. It's hard to choose favourites when it comes to Hip songs, but Wheat Kings, Fireworks, and Music@Work are most likely my top three. And what the first two of those have in common is the very reason I think the Tragically Hip are so great.

Picture from
Wheat Kings is a heartbreaking number that at first listen appears to be little more than a gentle ballad. If you're familiar with your Canadian history, however, it's clear that it's the story of David Milgaard, one of the most shameful cases in the history of Canadian justice. Milgaard was wrongfully accused of the 1969 murder of Gail Miller. He spent 23 years in prison before his eventual release.

Picture from Wikipedia.

Fireworks weaves together the story of Paul Henderson's nation-uniting goal against the Soviets in the 1972 Summit Series with the collective feeling of Cold War paranoia. Sound like heavy subject matter for a rock song? You'd think so, but it's actually one of the most poignant love songs in the CanRock canon, if I may be so bold.

Take a listen and see what you think:

"You held my hand and we walked home the long way/You were loosening my grip on Bobby Orr." Brilliant!

Rabid Hip fans often scratch their heads and wonder why this great band just can't crack it south of the border. They pack arenas in Winnipeg, but play to a handful of folks in a dive bar in New York. With music this good, it just doesn't make sense.

But, I mean, it sort of does. I'd wager a good third of Hip songs are about hockey. Another third are about esoteric events from Canadian history. Would Americans really enjoy that sort of thing? Maybe not. But us Canucks certainly do.

Picture from the Abbotsford Times.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Amazing Grace

Well, here I am. It's the first official day of my holidays and I'm awake before noon. And blogging. Rest assured, however, that I am in my pyjamas and intend to stay in them all day.

Now that it's less than two weeks away, it's hard not to think about Christmas. I love Christmas. I love hanging out with my zany family, playing games, and eating too much food.

I also love Christmas carols. Primarily for the nostalgic value, I think. I remember going to my school Christmas concerts as a tot and belting out the words to Joy to the World, even though I didn't really know what it was about.

My favourite Christmas song isn't traditionally considered a Christmas song. Sufjan Stevens does a beautiful cover of Amazing Grace that's included on his 2006 five-disc whopper of a Christmas album, Songs for Christmas.

My mom took me to New York a few years ago, and Sufjan Stevens (my favourite artist at the time) happened to be playing while we were there. I frenziedly bought tickets, despite my mom's protests she would be the oldest and least cool person there, and wouldn't be able to relate to the "weird hippie" music at all.

She was wrong on all counts.

Umm, you can't really tell, but that's Sufjan Stevens. It's the best picture I could get from our upper upper balcony seats.

Sufjan Stevens, or "Surfjam" as my family affectionately calls him, is now a Hughes family staple. Especially around Christmas-time. Our love of him, and my particular love of this song, goes back to what I've mentioned in previous posts about good music being universal.

Surfjam does make weird, hippie music, but it's undeniably good. I enjoy it. My classmate Kristin enjoys it. My middle-aged parents enjoy it.

Amazing Grace is a religious hymn.

It's also a simple, beautiful song.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Avoid TNT while studying

I made the mistake of listening to Tortoise's TNT the other night while trying to study.

My reasoning was if I listened to something without words, I'd be able to concentrate more on my notes. According to this flawless logic, I would ace the exam.

No dice.

Tortoise makes some of the most interesting, innovative, intricate music out there today (hooray for alliteration!). Definitely hard to concentrate on anything else while listening to them.

Hopefully, one day I'll find the time to write a proper blog about them. Until then, here's a song:

If you ever have the chance to see them live, do yourself a favour and go!