This is one post in a series of fifteen. 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.
The Hip are famous for writing songs that contain stories within stories. “Lake Fever” is a song about two people about to share a passionate moment, coupled with a historical story about cholera outbreaks that happened along Lake Ontario hundreds of years ago when ships from across the world brought diseases into the harbours of new, growing settlements that had yet to adequately deal with the issue of sewage disposal and the importance of keeping water clean. Sweaty, feverish topics, both, no?
Life and death, love and sex. A song that begins quietly; often just with Gord and an acoustic guitar at centre stage. But, one that builds, layer upon layer of beautiful harmonies, until it reaches a soaring crescendo and then, ends restfully, spent-like, talking in whispers again. “Lake Fever” juxtaposes death with a joyous act of passion in an all-or-nothing wager. Gord sings hard on lots of songs, as he does on this song but, his voice would not be enough for a story as old as time. The soft harmonies on vocals by Paul Langlois and Julie Dorion counter-balance the earnestness of Gord’s voice and give the song a fullness and a richness that young love and old death deserves.
In the end, “Lake Fever” is a celebration of lives lived in the most meaningful way. As for the history depicted in this song, (#HM) Gord Downie once famously said the following at a concert in Toronto, “I know you don’t want to hear it but, in 1832, there was a cholera epidemic up and down the Lake. Many people died where you stand tonight. And now, here’s a song about two young people who don’t give a shit!”
“I’ll tell you a story about the Lake fever or
We can skip to the coital fury
You didn’t say, yes or no, neither,
You whispered, Hurry.”
The video for “Lake Fever” is here.
As always, thank you for visiting my blog and for taking the time to read this post. I hope you enjoyed peeking behind the curtain of such a terrific song. I appreciate all comments so feel free to discuss how you liked the song, the history it portrays or, even, the passion of the young lovers, if you wish. Thanks, as well, to The Tragically Hip for writing such a great song in the first place.