Today, I listened to a song I’ve probably listened to a thousand times. Courage (for Hugh MacLennan) by the Tragically Hip.
I’ve always liked the line,
“there’s no simple explanation
For anything important any of us do
And yea the human tragedy
consists in the necessity
of living with the consequences
Under pressure, under pressure”
I decided to do some research to see if there more to it than just an interesting verse. As with most of Gord Downie’s lyrics, there is. Through the website hipmuseum.com, I learned that the line is paraphrased from Canadian author Hugh MacLennan’s book, “The Watch that Ends the Night”. (Hence the song title)
The passage from the book reads,
“…that there is no simple explanation for anything important any of us do, and that the human tragedy, or the human irony, consists in the necessity of living with the consequences of actions performed under the pressure of compulsions so obscure we do not and cannot understand them.”
Wow. Eloquent. I need to read more of that.
hipmuseum.com provides some interesting background on Hugh MacLennan and the inspiration for his works and also further analysis of lyrics in the song.
To summarize, I listened to a song I’ve heard a thousand times, used Google to research a line I like, read a passage from a website explaining the line, learned it’s from a Canadian author who sounds like he’d be a good read, go to Chapters.ca and buy the book which will be shipped to my door.
Thank you Internet.