The Never-Ending Present

The Story of Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip
4.5 out of 5 stars (128 ratings)

Price: CDN$ 37.53

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About the Audiobook

In the first 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. This is an audiobook not just for fans of the band — it's for anyone interested in how culture can spark national conversations.

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

Listen to Clips from The Never-Ending Present

The Never-Ending Present: The Story of Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip
  • The Never-Ending Present: The Story of Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip
  • Written by: Michael Barclay
    Narrated by: George Stroumboulopoulos
"That whole argument [about not making it in the States] is just ridiculous."
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The Never-Ending Present: The Story of Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip
  • The Never-Ending Present: The Story of Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip
  • Written by: Michael Barclay
    Narrated by: George Stroumboulopoulos
The meaning behind "Fifty-Mission Cap": "He's an imposter, a poser, a con."
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The Never-Ending Present: The Story of Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip
  • The Never-Ending Present: The Story of Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip
  • Written by: Michael Barclay
    Narrated by: George Stroumboulopoulos
Sam Roberts reflects on the Hip's National Celebration show on August 20, 2016.
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Now Playing

  • The Never-Ending Present: The Story of Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip
  • "That whole argument [about not making it in the States] is just ridiculous."
  • The Never-Ending Present: The Story of Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip
  • The meaning behind "Fifty-Mission Cap": "He's an imposter, a poser, a con."
  • The Never-Ending Present: The Story of Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip
  • Sam Roberts reflects on the Hip's National Celebration show on August 20, 2016.

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.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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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

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Ray
  • 2019-01-12

Like opening the curtains of the Wizard of Oz

A much needed and cathartic review of the history of Gord Downey and the Tragically Hip.

Read by the timeless voice of the Red Chair, Strombo himself.

Highly recommend this one if you’re a fan of the Hip, or Canadian music of the last 40 years.

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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.

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loved it

completely enjoyed the narrating and the content. listen to it every day. informative and relatable.

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Not a huge fan, but now a bigger fan.

Some parts were not really needed, but my respect for the guys in this band is now huge.

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A master's degree in The Tragically Hip

An absolutely amazing experience that captures a band that represents so much, more than just a Canadian band

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Hip Fan

I LOVE AND MISS THIS BAND MORE AND MORE EVERY DAY.
FANTASTIC INSIGHT.
I LAUGHED, AND MOST DEFINITELY CRIED.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Well read, outstanding story of a great band

Although I generally don’t read band memoirs, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. George Stroumboulopoulos offers an outstanding reading of the book as someone who knew the band personally. For me the last four chapters which chronicle the end of The Tragically Hip’s story as a band were worth the entire read. The other part I enjoyed, as someone who does not understand the music industry very well, was the background information Michael Barclay provided around various aspects of the business. An enjoyable listen! #Audible1

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If You've Ever liked The Hip, This Book is for You

I would not call myself a die-hard Hip fan by any means. I really enjoyed their early stuff (still do) but then I found they drifted off my radar. I had their first 5 albums way back when they first came out and I've seen them live 4 or 5 times as well. When I still hear songs from their early albums, memories come flooding back.

Like many, I was saddened by the death of Gord Downie. Listening to "the Never-Ending Present" opened me up to an aspect of the band that I was clueless about. I really enjoyed learning about what down to earth people the band members were/are. What other famous musicians would show up to a game of shinny with ordinary folks just because they love hockey?

After listening to this book, I have been working my way through the Tragically Hip's musical catalogue chronically and appreciating the genius of their music with a new ear.

This book is well written and narrated. I would highly recommend giving it a listen! #Audible1

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Music geeks only

Enjoyable listen if you are the music geek type interested in producers and recording studio details. Which I am, and enjoyed that part. Only three stars as I was always aware that Gord didn't endorse the project. Lots of filler on other Canadian artists and records, which was also interesting. #Audible1

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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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    5 out of 5 stars
  • 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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    5 out of 5 stars
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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
  • 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
  • Newmarket, ON, Canada
  • 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).