Over a decade ago I began a hobby that I’ve still not given up, though I get to play at it seldom. I write short stories based on Tragically Hip songs. Not the songs that tell a story – because they already tell a story. But the songs that don’t quite, on their own. I’ve always found the Hip’s music expressionistic and evocative. Their music put stories in my mind, even when the lyrics don’t tell one directly. They tell story snippets. The listener can piece together a multiplicity of possible stories from them.
I think this is part of the reason Gord has been so interesting as a frontman: he interprets the songs in new ways, and these songs have many dimensions to mine. In my stories, I pick one interpretation.
The first one I did was Locked in the Trunk of a Car, must have been 15 or more years ago. That came to me driving, listening to the song on the radio, daydreaming. Shortly after that came Little Bones (Happy Hour Is Here), then, over the years, Looking For a Place to Happen, Scared, The Darkest One, and Lionized. I’ve had aborted efforts on New Orleans Is Sinking; Grace, Too; Wheat Kings; Put It Off; and Boots or Hearts. I’ve tried to take the feelings and contours of the songs from one medium to another – like Fantasia. I listen to the song on repeat while I write, I hope the mood carries that way, and lyrics wind up popping up in the narrative.
Hopefully, the stories read well on their own without knowing the songs. But for a unique music-literary experience, I recommend listening to the respective song, on repeat, low, while reading, as I wrote it.
Or don’t, it’s a free country.
All the stories are available on Amazon here.
Thank you Tragically Hip, for it all.