The Tragically Hip: Song #15-Gus, the Polar Bear of Central Park

This is one post in a series. Each post will focus on one song by The Tragically Hip, a Canadian rock n’ roll band. I am a fan, not an expert. The thoughts expressed in these posts are my own, with the following two exceptions: I have drawn inspiration and knowledge from a book entitled, The Never Ending Present by Michael Barclay. I have, also, learned much from a website dedicated to Hip fans, entitled The Hip Museum. I will give credit to either source when applicable.

This song is based on the true story of a polar bear named Gus. Gus was a featured attraction in the Central Park Zoo in NYC. After years in captivity, Gus began displaying signs of mental and emotional distress. King of the Tundra no longer, this majestic creature languished under the constant gaze of those who never knew he was in such pain. In this song, I swear Gord’s voice has an extra growl-like quality to it. I have always admired how the Tragically Hip so willingly gave voice to those unable to speak for themselves.

Whats troubling, Gus? Is it nothing goes quiet?
Is that what’s troubling you, Gus? The mere mention of the name
Used to be enough to make every bird stop singing.
Is that what’s troubling you, Gus? No one is afraid.”

A link to a video of the band performing this song live can be found here.

In this post, as in all others in this series, your comments on this song are most welcome. Feel free to talk about the lyrics, the musicianship, the subject matter of this song, your thoughts on zoos and/or animal rights……whatever your heart desires. Thanks for reading this post about Gus, the Polar Bear from Central Park by The Tragically Hip.

Author: Tom MacInnes

Among the many characters I play: husband, father, son, retired elementary school teacher, writer, Cape Bretoner, lover of hot tea and, above all else, a gentleman. I strive to make a positive difference in the lives of others. In Life, I have chosen to be kind.

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