The Never-Ending Present

The Never-Ending Present

The biography of “Canada’s band”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, Ontario. 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...

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Title:The Never-Ending Present
Author:Michael Barclay
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Never-Ending Present Reviews

  • rabbitprincess

    4.5 rounded up

  • Candice

    Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced copy of this book - all opinions are my own.

    Michael Barclay completely blew me away with this book. It would be a disservice to pigeonhole this as a biography about the Tragically Hip - yes the focus of the book is the Hip, however it is not just a biography of the 5 guys in the band, rather, of the footprint they made in music history, and that includes an in depth look at every person and event that shaped the band into the 30 year succ

    Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced copy of this book - all opinions are my own.

    Michael Barclay completely blew me away with this book. It would be a disservice to pigeonhole this as a biography about the Tragically Hip - yes the focus of the book is the Hip, however it is not just a biography of the 5 guys in the band, rather, of the footprint they made in music history, and that includes an in depth look at every person and event that shaped the band into the 30 year success story they are.

    This book is like a master class on the Hip, and as a fan of both the band, and Gord Downie, having such a deep dive into the band was such an absolute pleasure.to read. This book is sprawling in the history it covers - literally every step on the path, from the inception of the band in high school right through to the last days of Gord's life. Michael left no one out of this retrospective - this is the Hip on the largest scale possible - the band, yes, and of course a focus on Gord, but also the producers, agents, engineers, the bands music peers, family, fans, Hip cover bands, roadies, industry players - the list goes on. So many individuals who played a part in the history of the Hip are included, and that shapes the story in a way that gives it legs, and brings the band to life off the pages.

    This book made me laugh out loud more than once, and unabashedly shed a few tears. This will be a book that Hip fans love, of course, but more than that, this is a book for that anyone with a love and respect for music and music history - Hip fan or not.

  • Paul

    I thoroughly enjoyed the book. As someone who has had an on-again off-again relationship with the band, it was fascinating to read about some of the background behind the band forming, and the recording of their albums. The interview snippets from the people surrounding the band were excellent. I also enjoyed the author's writing style.Each chapter of the book is like a mini-book; they can be read independently of the others. I would recommend this to anyone that is curious about the band and/or

    I thoroughly enjoyed the book. As someone who has had an on-again off-again relationship with the band, it was fascinating to read about some of the background behind the band forming, and the recording of their albums. The interview snippets from the people surrounding the band were excellent. I also enjoyed the author's writing style.Each chapter of the book is like a mini-book; they can be read independently of the others. I would recommend this to anyone that is curious about the band and/or Gord Downie.

  • Lance Lumley

    Since there are not many books on the Canadian band The Tragically Hip, this is the book to have about one of the most underrated bands in music, especially in Canadian Music.

    The book is almost 500 pages, and covers everything about the band , from the early bar days of the members to interviews with former roadies, friends, and musicians. The band did not have any input on the book , but that does not deter from the research the author puts into it.

    As detailed as the book is, sometimes it gets

    Since there are not many books on the Canadian band The Tragically Hip, this is the book to have about one of the most underrated bands in music, especially in Canadian Music.

    The book is almost 500 pages, and covers everything about the band , from the early bar days of the members to interviews with former roadies, friends, and musicians. The band did not have any input on the book , but that does not deter from the research the author puts into it.

    As detailed as the book is, sometimes it gets a little off track with comparisons to other bands that made it in the US from Canada, and some die hards may be put off on the chapters that look at whether or not the band was worth the hype. However this is a book that Hip fans should get, especially since there are very little books about the band. ECW Press has another great book from their company.

    For an in depth review, go to

  • Stephen Johns

    I liked The Never-Ending Present, but didn't quite love it. Given the combination of author and subject, however, I was expecting to love it, which left me feeling oddly disappointed. It's certainly a good read, and Barclay writes the hell out of his topics, but interspersing vaguely topical essays in between chapters about the band and Gord Downie feels like an overreach: this book wasn't the occasion to properly engage with, for example, the question of whether The Tragically Hip's music repre

    I liked The Never-Ending Present, but didn't quite love it. Given the combination of author and subject, however, I was expecting to love it, which left me feeling oddly disappointed. It's certainly a good read, and Barclay writes the hell out of his topics, but interspersing vaguely topical essays in between chapters about the band and Gord Downie feels like an overreach: this book wasn't the occasion to properly engage with, for example, the question of whether The Tragically Hip's music represents Canada or just white Canada. I wanted more about the band, about its members other than Gord - the Hip were, in the end, five brothers - and especially about the music, which Barclay started glossing over in the chapters post-Music @ Work. The Hip put out some killer music in between 2000-2016; Barclay mostly dismisses it as the work of a band at a crossroads and uses its relative lack of critical success as a stick to beat it with.

    I enjoyed the book, hence the four stars. I was just expecting more. I hope this is the first in a long line of books about the Hip and Gord Downie, because they're both deserving of it.

  • Sonstepaul

    This is a book I don’t feel bad rating maybe a bit higher than it deserves because when it’s good it’s surprisingly good, but there are things.

    I’ll step past talking about the band, Gord, the national discussion, the importance of this book’s existence at all. That’s all obvious and probably a little divisive.

    What’s good is this is a book about Canadian music, with expansive outlining of the band’s peers, and explanations of their connections. So many of these people are interviewed over the c

    This is a book I don’t feel bad rating maybe a bit higher than it deserves because when it’s good it’s surprisingly good, but there are things.

    I’ll step past talking about the band, Gord, the national discussion, the importance of this book’s existence at all. That’s all obvious and probably a little divisive.

    What’s good is this is a book about Canadian music, with expansive outlining of the band’s peers, and explanations of their connections. So many of these people are interviewed over the course of the book—and in some cases like Ian Blurton, who I’ve always adored, promoted—and this gives it a veracity that overcomes one of the failings below. A second strength is the typical history of the band is interspersed with chapters of essay material: Canadiana, breaking in the US, poetry, Truth and Reconciliation, etc.

    The failings? Well, the first isn’t Barclay’s fault. The surviving band members wouldn’t be interviewed for it. All quotes are from other times. Most is the narrative is fleshed out with the many, many quotes outlined above from other folks. But this leads to sometime conjecture. That’s where Barclay strays a bit. He rams a story into an event, but then any writer worth a snot would be inclined to do that. It’s art. And the way Barclay intersperses Hip verses throughout is clever, even masterful. But solid truth? That’s a maybe.

    The biggest issue I had was the one I expected to have. A writer for Maclean’s, and most of our eastern-based journalists, have an inescapable hubris and it’s there. Barclay mostly manages to leave himself out as a character until August 20, 2016, but then he goes overboard in a theme of “this is how I saw that last show.” Then he sort of tries to shade out this ego trip by asking EVERYONE what they were doing that night, which gets a little overwrought.

    His opining—though fairly standard in the bio form—is distracting. He will tell you which are the best albums, which the best songs. Which fail. Phantom Power—which I mostly love—has to be great because it’s a commercial success. And yet he relegated “Ahead By a Century” to nothing but an overplayed and tired pop classic (say nothing of how he casts off “New Orleans”). Anything after 2000 is lesser because it’s not a successful period for the band. So? He pisses all over World Container because of the Bob Rock connection, but we’re down to personal opinion here. I think that’s one of their best albums. But what the hell, we met in agreement back for Man Machine Poem.

    Read this book if you’re one of the many, many of us who cared. Maybe like me you cared a lot and consistently. Maybe you were in and out but also know where you were that day in August 2016. Doesn’t matter. It’s a very dense book and for the most part I like how it’s put together. Trivializing the print of the author on the work makes it a slight distraction, not a fail.

  • Janet

    I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

    From the publisher ---

    The biography of “Canada’s band”

    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, Ontario. 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

    I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

    From the publisher ---

    The biography of “Canada’s band”

    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, Ontario. 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.

    This is a book not just for fans of the band: it’s for anyone interested in how culture can spark national conversations.

    I need to break this MY OWN PERSONAL HONEST OPINIONS in this review down into points lest this seem all over the place and dis-jointed.

    1. I am guessing that The Guess Who, Rush, Arcade Fire, The Band, Blue Rodeo, BTO, Loverboy, BNL, (etc. etc.) .... goodness even Nickelback … may disagree with not being called “Canada’s Band”. Saving grace? We are taking about a band and I do not have to add The Biebs into that conversation!

    2. When I heard that Gord Downie was sick I realized, that with the help of YouTube, that I didn’t know a single Tragically Hip song…and that “Bobcaygeon” made my cat howl and hiss at the computer. It’s very --- nasal. Yet people loved The Hip.

    3. Terry Fox died making money for cancer research to compare themselves to him (again, my opinion) is disingenuous as The Tragically Hip raised just over a million dollars for cancer research – all from concert goers donations made online or from parties held before the concerts. Considering that the ALC ice bucket challenge raised $120MILLION worldwide it looks like the donations were tiny in comparison. I am guessing that the Hip didn’t donate any money from the ticket sales or merchandise as this amount is miniscule.

    4. Downie is remembered as a passionate advocate for Indigenous rights and reconciliation: maybe our politicians should work on that a little harder instead of relying on celebrities (and authors like Joseph Boyden) to do that. Cry less, Trudeau, and do more work. Then again, I am not sure that it was Downie’s place to speak as he was a rich, white man much like our politicians are.

    5. I never want to see another purple spangled shirt and white hat combination outfit again in my life.

    This book annoyed me: 524 pages was about 500 pages too long. And that about sums it up as I just skipped and skimmed as I just didn’t get the book or the love of the subject at hand.

  • Gphalen

    Aboslute Garbage... When a man ask no book be written and the band behind him tells you they want no part of this. Then that man dies and you write it anyways your a disgusting piece of shit! As a Canadian and a fan of TTHP since the 80s Michael Barclay is a huge piece of shit for trying to profit off of the death of Gord Downie. this is all this was. Do Not Waste Money On this do not pay this pile of garbage for trying to profit off of the death of a celebrated Canadian musician poet and artist

    Aboslute Garbage... When a man ask no book be written and the band behind him tells you they want no part of this. Then that man dies and you write it anyways your a disgusting piece of shit! As a Canadian and a fan of TTHP since the 80s Michael Barclay is a huge piece of shit for trying to profit off of the death of Gord Downie. this is all this was. Do Not Waste Money On this do not pay this pile of garbage for trying to profit off of the death of a celebrated Canadian musician poet and artist.!!

  • Wendy

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