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Publisher's Summary

From our talent-rich neighbor to the north comes this biography of one of the most successful Canadian rock bands, The Tragically Hip, which announced a year-long tour after sharing the news of lead singer Gord Downie’s inoperable cancer. Now available to US listeners, The Never-Ending Present details what led up to the memorable night when music fans all over the world watched Downie’s heroic final performance. Author Michael Barclay explores the band’s musical and cultural importance through interviews with friends, fans, and others they touched. Broadcaster George Stroumboulopoulos narrates the Hip’s saga from its start in Kingston, Ontario, in 1984 to its superstar status as kings of the Canadian music scene—even conquering what Barclay calls the "American albatross." This audiobook is for anyone interested in rock music biographies in general or "Canada’s band" in particular, and how fans’ love for a band can foster a profound cultural moment of unity.  

©2018 Michael Barclay (P)2018 Audible, Inc.

Behind the Scenes with Strombo

Narrator George Stroumboulopoulos reveals what to expect from The Never-Ending Present and expounds on the Hip's impact on the Canadian cultural landscape.
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The Hip's Peers Reflect on the National Celebration Concert

George Stroumboulopoulos

About the Narrator

George Stroumboulopoulos is a Canadian television and radio interviewer, writer, and media producer. He was host and executive producer of the CBC talk show George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight (formerly The Hour) and Stroumboulopoulos on CNN, host of The NewMusic with MuchMusic, and anchored Hockey Night in Canada. He was also host of the music interview show Live in Toronto on CFNY 102.1 The Edge and continues on radio with The Strombo Show on CBC Radio 2. He also produces and hosts a live concert series, House of Strombo, with Apple Music

For even more from Strombo, check out his selection of must-listens.

Michael Barclay

About the Author

Michael Barclay has worked for Maclean’s, CBC Radio’s Brave New Waves, and Exclaim!. He co-authored Have Not Been the Same: The CanRock Renaissance 1985–1995, which told the stories of the Tragically Hip, Blue Rodeo, k.d. lang, and dozens more. He lives in Toronto.

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What listeners say about The Never-Ending Present

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Loved the band, loved the book!

I loved the band and loved the book. I've been to many of the Tragically Hip shows and once met Rob Baker in the airport in Vegas. He was on the same flight as me, so I chatted with him before the flight boarded. I'm embarrassed to say that I asked the stupidest, but most frequently asked question: Why do you think you didn't do as well in the US as you did in Canada? Michael Barclay gives a really good answer to this question... they did do well in the US and may have actually preferred the 1000-2000 person venues they played better than the arena shows in Canada. Another observation is that Canadians always wanted the top 10 songs played whereas in the US they could likely play to a less demanding audience. There are always two sides to extreme fame. I stopped buying albums after Phantom Power, but listening to this book encouraged me to dust off my old CDs and to download the new ones. I also downloaded Gord's solo albums and am quite enjoying them all. I know many people who really didn't like The Hip, but that's too bad for them. This book shows how unique they were in terms of band politics, friendships, song lyrics, and even talent. Not many bands stay together as long as they have and continue to create amazing songs. Although I know many of the songs by heart, I didn't always know what they meant. The book dives into the stories behind many of the songs. It's truly amazing how some of the songs turned out to be prophetic. I listened to the book, so George Stroumboulopoulos read the book to me. He did a fantastic job and was clearly a friend and fan of the band. Although much of the the book centered around Gord, given the circumstances of their final tour, Gord's cancer, and ultimate death, you'll find a lot of great quotes and stories about all the members of the band. Since listening to the book, I've also watched the movie "Long Time Running" I enjoyed it and noticed that some of the quotes from the book came directly from the movie. I was aware of Gord's involvement in the Secret Path - raising awareness for those who suffered at the hands of residential schools, and I knew that Gord and Joseph Boyden were friends, the book gives more details on how the story of Chanie Wenjack came to be a story they focused on. One chapter of the book is dedicated to this part of Gord's history and it goes into the politics of white people telling stories / raising awareness of Aboriginals. I've the Wenjack novella and plan to get the book and the album that Gord created. It's an important story to tell so that history is not repeated and that we see that Canada has made many grave errors over the course of its history. #audible1

6 people found this helpful

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A lot of unnecessary padding only very loosely con

A lot of unnecessary padding only very loosely connected to the Hip. A very long listen for something that could have been presented in 2/3 of the time. Just the same worth the listen if you're a Gord Downie fan. Very little content on the other members. Similar to the Led Zepplin book When Giants Walked the Earth in that the author is easily distracted. Needed a good editor to reign him in.

2 people found this helpful

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Lots of great listening - take out the other half

I just finished a great audiobook about the Beatles (Dreaming the Beatles) that was half this length. This book is excellent when it focuses on an accurate story of the Hip, but it regularly loses its way. Why do I need a lengthy story about the author's one night stint in a cover band as a "full disclosure" reply to one of the band members' quotes denigrating cover bands? Why does the author make hyperbolic claims about the band then disparage other Canadian acts? He touts that 50 Mission Cap is the only non-novelty Canadian song about hockey then spends several minutes taking Big League by Tom Cochrane down peg by peg so that it doesn't count in this discussion. Why can't we appreciate both songs? While those detours are repeated frequently, the rest of the book is great. I really enjoyed hearing about the band members' origins and how the albums were created, but if you're a big Hip fan who has done a lot of reading on them, I imagine this wouldn't break any new ground for you. The author states twice in the foreword that the band members didn't respond when he reached out to them for interviews and later for fact checking, so you're not getting any inside scoops in this book. George Stroumboulopoulos is an excellent narrator, and I did enjoy the book, but I think it would be better if it were half the length and more focused.

1 person found this helpful

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Prepare to cry a lot

I lost touch with “the hip” after the first 4 albums.. yet I felt such a strange connection with this story... as so many Canadians did. Thank you

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great bio

no interviews with the band members is the only deficiency otherwise, a great bio of a great band

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love the hip not sure about the book

I can say alot of things about this audiobook. First I have to say I was not sure what to expect. Loved listening to old stories and the development of the hip. However I really struggled to get through it as it really boring and the book concentrated on other groups and situation other than the hip which was not a bad thing just was not what I wanted. give it a listen determine for yourself but overall I was disappointed. But not sure why.

3 people found this helpful

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Written and Read by Uberfans

The hyperbole is a bit much sometimes but the story is good. Some stories and themes are repeated.

1 person found this helpful

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meandering story

at times the chapter is about the music industry and other artists. although an interesting article. the music teases left wanting. what was the song or band mentioned?

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Hauntingly beautiful

Such a great audio. Beautiful writing. Leave a good memory of a unapologetically Canadian band.

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This is more than just the story of the Hip

First off Strombo kills it! The story includeds all eras of the band and heart wrenching coverage of the final show in Kingston. But it is most entertaining when it covers the stories of the Fans and Tribute bands. Amazing story and thoroughly entertaining. If you want your friends to understand why you love the hip, tell them to listen to this. Cheers

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  • Tommy Garou
  • 2018-12-13

Hometown Heroes

I have an intimate relationship with the members of The Hip; I have grown up with them and their music, and it’s all contributed significantly to my own growth as an artist and person. With all that being said, I was truly captivated by Barclay’s intimate narrative. He really captures the essence of what made the five guys so compatible, and how they were able to achieve the level of success that they did. Stroumboulopoulos provides what is quite possibly the most appropriate voice for this book; a well traveled, articulate aficionado of art and culture, his personal relationship with the band accentuates a heartfelt, truthful performance. My one gripe is the blatant fact that the book itself is not fact-checked by the band themselves (though several intimate sources are verified in interviews etc.) But taking that with a grain of salt, if you look at it as a story, which the magic that the band created is more than worthy of, it is exquisitely crafted and truly compelling. My favourite part was how each of the guys was highlighted and really given thorough focus throughout the novel. Each of their personalities and talents are conveyed through wonderful anecdotes about how particular songs came to be, and how they evolved as a band etc. With all of my biases aside, this is really is a great book, and all of the production elements combine to amplify a compelling story about one of the truly great Rock and Roll bands, and one of the greatest frontmen of all time.

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  • JR
  • 2018-10-14

Gord F’ing Downie

Loved this book, thank you Michael for writing it and for George’s narration. The music these guys gave us became the anthems of my youth. Every time I hear their music it reminds of great times with lifetime friends. This book is very thorough hence the over 17 hour’s of listening. It gives you everything you would ever want to know about the band, it’s members, albums, tours, etc. it also gives you great info on the Canadian music scene and its players. If you are a fan of the band or a fan of Canadian music this book will not disappoint. Miss you Gord!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2018-10-13

Loved it!

Very thorough informative and entertaining. Gord and the boys are an inspiration to us all!

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  • Steven Rochon
  • 2018-09-12

Highly Recommended to Fans

This gave me a lot of the band's story from their beginnings to their culmination in 2016. It reminded me how much I miss Gord and how much of a shame it is that we'll never hear from this band again.

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  • Jim Vitale
  • 2018-08-03

very insightful in all areas

I really respect the amount of research that went into this. what an unbelievable testament not only to the band, but to how music brings us all together in our common mortality and quest to make meaning of the gift we call life.

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  • Michael
  • 2018-08-01

Non-traditional biography

I have enjoyed this (unauthorized) biography very much. Full disclosure I am a huge Hip fan, but not an audiophile. I listened even though some of the surviving band members have criticized some of the facts in the book, but I have found it very well researched. Without giving away some of my favorite parts, for me the highlights included: -history on the band and their key performances -connections to other popular acts like Nirvana, Spirit of the West, Midnight Oil, the Odds, etc. -behind the scenes details on Gord’s solo album and how it was constructed -explanations and perspectives on how the Hip fit into the Canadian cultural landscape (positive and negative) On a personal note I enjoyed the extensive details on the July 1994 Canada Day Concert which I had never seen anywhere. I was actually there and I remember how amazing their set was (and how out of place Daniel Lanois was, which was fully explained in the book).