Today, Saturday, August 20th, 2016, is a sacred day, marking the final performance of The Tragically Hip, Canada’s most beloved band, in Kingston, Ontario. All of Canada (and pockets of America) are experiencing a mixture of sadness and triumph. So, in anticipation of tonight’s event (which the CBC will broadcast worldwide, gratis, and for which countless screening locations have been organized at public venues) we have decided to highlight some of the more memorable cover versions of great Hip tunes.
We’ll start with what is, hands-down, my favorite: Sarah Polley’s masterful and haunting version of “Courage” from Atom Egoyan’s 1997 film The Sweet Hereafter (in which Polley also starred). My discovery of the song is what originally led me to the film and then back to the Russell Banks novel on which it is based. None of this is for the faint-hearted: As the CBC notes, the novel (and film) are about “the event and aftermath of a school bus accident that kills 14 children. From rock song to eerily sung dirge, this version of ‘Courage’ makes the hair stand on the back of your neck.”