Euphonious Fridays – New Orleans Is Sinking


It’s Canada Day!  That really leaves no choice in the matter regarding who to feature for this week’s Euphonious Friday (especially since I missed last week – boo me!).  There can be only one band…the quintessentially Kingston, Ontario-based Canadian rockers, The Tragically Hip.  Despite the fact that the band is wildly popular within Canada, many around the world may not have heard of them, or know much about them.

Unfortunately, since I’m between volunteering at the Alianait Festival here in Iqaluit, and attending the second of four shows for the festival tonight, I won’t have much time to give you a refresher course on the band’s long history.  They’ve been around since 1983!  Just know that when it comes to summertime on the patio…you’ll probably hear Kim Mitchell’s “Patio Lanterns” and then you’ll hear the Hip.  They are mainstays at summer festivals and so many of their songs feature our home and native land in the lyrics.

It’s hard to pin down one of my favourite songs by the band, but I am definitely a fan of their earlier work.  Somewhere around high school, I sort of lost interest…after the album Fully Completely which I love.  The song I’m featuring today is off of Up To Here which was released in 1989.  ‘New Orleans Is Sinking’ is arguably one of the band’s most recognizable and “signature” songs.


Bourbon blues on the street, loose and complete
Under skies all smokey blue-green
I can’t forsake a dixie dead-shake
So we danced the sidewalk clean
My memory is muddy, what’s this river that I’m in?
New Orleans is sinking man and I don’t wanna swim

Colonel Tom, What’s wrong? What’s going on?
You can’t tie yourself up for a deal
He said, “Hey north you’re south shut your big mouth,
You gotta do what you feel is real”
Ain’t got no picture postcards, ain’t got no souvenirs
My baby, she don’t know me when I’m thinking bout those years

Pale as a light bulb hanging on a wire
Sucking up to someone just to stoke the fire
Picking out the highlights of the scenery
Saw a little cloud that looked a little like me

I had my hands in the river
My feet back up on the banks
Looked up to the lord above
And said, “Hey man thanks”
Sometimes I feel so good, I gotta scream
She said “Gordie baby I know exactly what you mean”
She said, she said, I swear to god she said…

My memory is muddy what’s this river that I’m in?
New Orleans is sinking man and I don’t wanna swim

This is the official video for the song.  I highly recommend seeking out the song as it’s performed live on YouTube somewhere.  Gord Downie has been known to go off on a bit of a tangent in the bridge before the “I had my hands in the river” line.  My favourite version (and that of many) is known as the “killerwhaletank”.  Try to find it…


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