Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Reader's Diary #2260 - Michael Barclay: The Never Ending Present

Though it wasn't a licensed biography, Hip members didn't participate, and at least one member denounced it, Michael Barclay's The Never-Ending Present: The Story of Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip is a worthwhile read for Hip fans and Hip curious.

Are all the details accurate? I'm guessing there are some minor things here or there that Barclay erred on. But at 482 pages and being very comprehensive from the band's pre-Hip days to and past Downie's death, that's inevitable. Still the amount of research Barclay did is obvious and while the band maybe didn't grant him interviews, he did reference many of the prior interviews they did with other outlets and did score interviews with a large number of folks in the Hip periphery. 

It's also all told in a very easy, engaging style. And with a band without a lot of salacious details to hook a reader, his conversational approach is needed. Did I learn more about the Hip? Absolutely. Do I understand them more. Maybe not. Yes, I came away with trivia (where albums were produced, who produced them, artists who opened for them, etc) but they also came away more complex than I even considered before. I think my ultimate impression is that Gord had a very yin-yang relationship with the rest of the band. 

Is it perfect? No. When Barclay gets subjective, I don't always agree with him (I happen to like "Butts Wigglin'"!) and some diversions are unnecessary. Case in point? Asking various other musicians their thoughts on the final concert? Fine. But was it necessary to include all those that said they didn't watch? Those sections dragged. 

Nonetheless, I quite enjoyed the book, and took the time to re-listen to their catalogue and Gord's solo stuff as I read it. I'd say I'm an even bigger fan now than when I started. 

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