The Never-Ending Present

Michael Barclay's The Never-Ending Present is a biography of one of Canada's most legendary bands, Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip.

Michael Barclay

In the summer of 2016, more than a third of Canadians tuned in to watch what was likely the Tragically Hip's final performance, broadcast from their hometown of Kingston, Ont. Why? Because these five men were always more than just a band. They sold millions of records and defined a generation of Canadian rock music. But they were also a tabula rasa onto which fans could project their own ideas: of performance, of poetry, of history, of Canada itself.

In the first print biography of the Tragically Hip, Michael Barclay talks to dozens of the band's peers and friends about not just the Hip's music but about the opening bands, the American albatross, the band's role in Canadian culture and Gord Downie's role in reconciliation with Indigenous people. When Downie announced he had terminal cancer and decided to take the Hip on the road one more time, the tour became another Terry Fox moment; this time, Canadians got to witness an embattled hero reach the finish line. (From ECW Press)

Why Michael Barclay wrote The Never-Ending Present

"During the summer of 2016, Gord Downie became more famous than he ever had been. People who didn't like the band's music now knew who he was, what he was going through and what he stood for. But I didn't see a lot of stuff that examined why we cared about him in the first place. There was a rich body of work and a rich contribution to culture that had never been seriously examined. I wanted to put this band in a larger context, and not just tell their story chronologically. 

I wanted to put this band in a larger context, and not just tell their story chronologically.- Michael Barclay

"Every second chapter in the book is thematic. There's a chapter about Gord Downie's poetry, and whether or not lyrics are poetry. There's a chapter about American success, or lack thereof, and what that means for Canadian acts. I also wanted to talk about what it means to get old in rock 'n' roll. How do you get somebody interested in your 12th album? How do we take artists for granted in this country?

"Those are all themes that I wanted to to bring into this book, so that it wasn't the story of one band. I wanted it to be a cultural conversation."

Read more in his interview with CBC Books.

More about The Tragically Hip

Michael Barclay, Jane Stevenson and F---ed Up frontman Damien Abraham reflect on the power of the quintessentially Canadian band. 10:29

Canada gets ready for Tragically Hip show in Kingston

5 years ago
Lots of anticipation for the Hip's big show in the band's hometown of Kingston, Ont., the final concert of their Man Machine Poem tour 2:48

The Tragically Hip | Bobcaygeon

4 years ago
The Tragically Hip perform "Bobcaygeon" live in Kingston, the final stop on their 2016 Man Machine Poem tour. 5:19

Gord Downie shares a moment with an emotional audience

5 years ago
The Tragically Hip played their final show of the Man Machine Poem tour. 1:04




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