- Even as cases of COVID-19 in Montreal continue to rise, Montrealers continue to find ways to keep their spirits up.
- In what seems to now be a weekly balcony concert, Montrealers (and all Canadians) are invited to sing "Courage" by The Tragically Hip on Thursday, March 26.
- Find the lyrics, and more about the song's strong tie to Montreal, below.
As the numbers of COVID-19 in Montreal continue to climb, there is no question that we are all in need of some escape, some distraction, and something to keep us smiling. Many have lost their jobs, are hanging in an educational lurch, or are dealing with sick loved ones. Add to that the obligation we all have to keep ourselves distanced from each other physically, as a way to keep each other safe and minimize the spread of the novel coronavirus, and it's no surprise we're seeing so many balcony concerts.
If there's one thing we need now, it's Courage.
Which is why one Montrealer has proposed that this be the next feature performance, in what is clearly become a weekly balcony concert series.
In a city like Montreal, where we are used to hearing musicians play on the streets, in the parks, and even in the halls of the metro, this quick affinity for the balcony concert in these strange times is no surprise.
With an abundance of balconies and an abundance of artists, this seems to have become a natural way for neighbours to connect while maintaining a safe distance.
And I know for many, myself included, it has done wonders for keeping spirits up.
Comedia Joey Elias kicked off the initial suggestion, tagging several radio shows in Montreal, as well as several other Canadian musicians to join in.
The plan is to sing The Hip's "Courage" at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 26.
If you're not up for doing your best Gord Downie impression, consider just playing the song (find it below) instead.
Here's a nice karaoke-style version of the famous Hip song, so you can listen and sing along on Thursday night.
The song's full title is actually "Courage (For Hugh MacLennan)," which actually has strong ties to Montreal.
The nod to Hugh MacLennan is because of Downie's paraphrasing of a MacLennan sentiment found in the novel The Watch That Ends the Night.
From the novel:
"But that night as I drove back from Montreal, I at least discovered this: 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," (MacLennan, 274).
MacLennan was born in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, but moved to Montreal, where he studied English at McGill University and eventually taught as a professor. He then went on to write several novels that are now considered to be part of the Canadian literary canon. He died in Montreal in November 1990.
I think it important to also include one of the concluding sentiments of The Watch That Ends the Night:
"…the last possible harmony, the only one there can be, is a will to live, love, grow and be grateful, the determination to endure all things, hope all things, believe all things necessary for what our ancestors called the will of God. To struggle and work for that, at the end, is all there is left. In music, you can hear this kind of struggle… wash like the light of the world over the little external truths of science," (MacLennan, 344).
I hope to hear your voices wash like the light of the world over Montreal on Thursday.
MacLennan, Hugh. The Watch That Ends the Night. Macmillan, 1958.