‘It’s A Good Life If You Don’t Weaken’

‘It’s A Good Life If You Don’t Weaken’

I’m pulling a page from Deke’s books today, talking about a single song. I rarely do this, it’s usually albums all taken together, or something else entirely. But I’ve had this song stuck in my head for the past two days, so I thought I’d just drop this here to tell you about my love for this Tragically Hip track, ‘It’s A Good Life If You Don’t Weaken.’

A slow, sweeping tune, found at track 4 on 2002’s In Violet Light album, it is fluid and beautiful, graceful and stirring. The backing vocals call and response “go somewhere we’re needed” with Gordie’s “find somewhere to go/grow” blend perfectly. The guitars hold our attention riveted as they’re both gently arpeggiated and then rock chorded as it builds. Fay’s drums swing just so… the whole thing moves and breathes of its own accord. You could be in a gently rocking rowboat, or on a porch swing on a summer’s evening, or gliding down a prairie highway late at night with no one else around for miles, warm and illusorily safe in your metal cocoon/bullet. It’s a moment of reflection, of a life examined and therefore worth living.

The quotation is widely attributed to John Buchan (he was also Governor General of Canada and wrote The 39 Steps!). A little further digging led me to this track, a foxtrot by Lou Gold and His Orchestra, from “Playboy Of Paris,” in 1930. Both Buchan and Gold used it as “It’s A Great Life If You Don’t Weaken,” but the message stands.

From what I could find on the Hip’s song, the title could also come from a graphic novel of the same name by Canadian artist Seth. I’ve read that book more than once, and it’s a fine, fine thing. The story of the search for an obscure old graphic artist is gorgeous, and the artwork… well, it’s Seth, so you know it’s achingly perfect. You should read it post-haste, if you haven’t already. According to Wiki, Seth said the title was a phrase his mother used during his childhood. One guesses it was a quotation passed along colloquially from Buchan, or perhaps from the Gold record.

Whatever the case, it’s the Hip’s song that I have in my head these days, and I love it. I know that, most times, when I have a song stuck in my head for long periods, like this, I usually try anything to get reprieve, to change the tune. Not this time. I’m content to let this one enjoy its stay in the dusty halls of my brain for as long as it likes.

20 thoughts on “‘It’s A Good Life If You Don’t Weaken’

  1. James Kalyn says:

    That Seth fella is in town tonight to give a talk at the library. They’re showing an art exhibit of his for the next while and tonight is the opening night. I’m going to be out of town; otherwise, I’d likely try to go.

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  2. stephen1001 says:

    Nice choice Aaron – I really like the song structure.
    If I were to rank the hip albums, In Violet Light would likely be in the neighbourhood of #5, largely thanks to the last pair of tunes!

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    1. keepsmealive says:

      Thanks Geoff! Yeah, the way the song plays it just resonates on all the right levels. Another perfect Hip tune.

      I don’t think I could rank Hip albums. I used to say Day For Night was my favourite (and I’d been on board since Up To Here) but now I realize that was folly (though that is a GREAT record). What I mean is that there’s no ranking them. Just throw ’em all into the pool of awesome and hit Random Play!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. keepsmealive says:

      That is gteat! I didn’t catch that one, in my researches, probably because the song is listed on Wiki as It’s A Great Life, and didn’t come up in my searches. Thanks!

      Leads me to think this is an expression that has entered common usage, in some small way.

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    1. keepsmealive says:

      It is a great record, Dire Wolf is another big tune. Funny, I don’t think of them as having periods in their career. As I was saying to Deke (above), It’s all one great big happy Hip party, to me!

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    1. keepsmealive says:

      Yes! I’ve enjoyed all of his books I’ve read. I happen to know the lady at my library who’s in charge of buying the graphic novels, and I know she’s a big fan and into buying the good stuff. YAY!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. keepsmealive says:

      Thanks Sarca! I had fun with this one. It’s a nice switch from my usual “I played this album! It was great!” schtick of yore, hahaha. Oh man it’s such a brilliant tune. Something about it just hooks me.

      Oh you totally need to read that book. The story and the art go together so perfectly. Gorgeous.

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          1. keepsmealive says:

            I know! I’m very excited. It’s also in total contravention of my TBR20 project (as started by EvaOverload). I’m supposed to read 20 books here in the house before I go buy anything else. But at that price, I couldn’t leave it because I can guarantee it wouldn’t be there the next time I went back…

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Deke says:

    Cool idea! Hahahaha….this track is a good song. It’s kinda funny at the time I bought the new Hip albums but i would always go back to the earlier stuff….all the stuff past Day For Night are slowly growing on me…..

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    1. keepsmealive says:

      It is indeed a great song. It’s funny, I knew a lot of people who would rush out and buy the new album, play it, and then go back to Road Apples or whatever. I never got that. I bought each new record and loved it. The only one that didn’t hit me right away was the first half of Now For Plan A, but even that is in the mix now too. I dunno, I think my brain is just wired to receive MORE HIP and it’s all good! 😉

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