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Ahead by a Century

"Ahead by a Century" is the first single from The Tragically Hip's fifth studio album, Trouble at the Henhouse. The song reached number one on Canada's singles chart,[1] and was nominated for "Best Single" at the 1997 Juno Awards.[2] It is the band's most successful single in their native Canada. The song was certified platinum in Canada in 2016.[3]

"Ahead by a Century"
The Tragically Hip Ahead By A Century.jpg
Single by The Tragically Hip
from the album Trouble at the Henhouse
Released April 22, 1996 (1996-04-22)
Format Promo-CD Single
Genre Alternative rock, Folk rock
Length 3:43
Label MCA
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s) Mark Vreeken, The Tragically Hip
The Tragically Hip singles chronology
"Thugs"
(1996)
"Ahead by a Century"
(1996)
"Gift Shop"
(1996)

"Thugs"
(1996)
"Ahead by a Century"
(1996)
"Gift Shop"
(1996)

The song was the final one performed by the band at their final concert on August 20, 2016.[4] CBC Television used the song for their highlight montage to close their coverage of the 2016 Summer Olympics.[5] It subsequently was also used for the opening titles of the 2017 CBC/Netflix series Anne.[6]

On October 18, 2017, the day Tragically Hip lead singer Gord Downie's death was announced, "Ahead by a Century" was the single most played song on Canadian radio.[7]

Contents

BackgroundEdit

The song is one of several Tragically Hip singles which were developed from improvised bridge jams during live performances of the band's signature song "New Orleans Is Sinking".[8]

The song begins with an image of youthful romance, with a young boy and girl climbing a tree to talk and ponder all the possibilities that life holds for them.[9] The original lyrics, which were performed at least once live before Downie rewrote them to their more familiar form, were more overtly sexual, with the boy and girl climbing the tree solely to touch each other's "cunt" and "cock".[9] Downie subsequently explained that the intended theme was one of innocence — "It’s two little kids, and they don’t know what a cunt is and they don’t know what a cock is—they just heard them called that" — but said that after he was convinced by the band's guitar technician that the audience would not hear that theme through the shock of the explicit terminology, he went through an intense but rewarding week-long process of rewriting the verse to communicate the idea in a more accessible way.[9]

Music videoEdit

The song's music video was directed by Eric Yealland and filmed on a small farm in Brooklin, Ontario. The music video won the award for Best Video at the 1996 MuchMusic Video Awards.[10][11] The video was also nominated for "Best Video" at the 1997 Juno Awards.[12]

CoversEdit

In 2016, Hey Rosetta! performed the song during their set at the CBC Music Festival, altering some lyrics to reflect Downie's recent announcement of his diagnosis with terminal glioblastoma.[13] In the same year, the Toronto-based Choir! Choir! Choir! dedicated a performance of the song to Downie following the diagnosis.[14]

On the January 1, 2017 edition of CBC Radio 2's The Strombo Show, a tribute special organized to celebrate the Tragically Hip's 30th anniversary, the song was performed by both By Divine Right as a standalone song, and Barenaked Ladies as a medley with the song "Chancellor" from Downie's solo album Coke Machine Glow.[15] Following Downie's death, Barenaked Ladies added "Chancellor/Ahead by a Century" to the setlists for several shows on their concurrent concert tour.

In 2017, an Inuttitut-language version of the song, incorporating traditional Inuit throat singing, was released by the Nunavut-based folk music band The Jerry Cans.[16]

At her concert at Toronto's Massey Hall on October 30, 2017, two weeks after Downie's death, Tori Amos performed the song.[17]

ChartsEdit

CertificationsEdit

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[22] Platinum 80,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Top Singles - Volume 63, No. 21, July 08 1996". RPM. Retrieved 2009-04-26. 
  2. ^ "1997 Juno Awards". MetroLeap Media. Retrieved 2009-12-29. 
  3. ^ "Gold/Platinum". Music Canada. Retrieved September 17, 2016. 
  4. ^ Noronha, Charmaine. "Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip holds final show". The Associated Press. Retrieved 21 August 2016. 
  5. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gowWDfltXJE
  6. ^ CBC Music, The Tragically Hip provide theme song to new Anne series, 16 March 2017.
  7. ^ "Tragically Hip album sales, audio streams soar after Gord Downie's death". CTV News, October 23, 2017.
  8. ^ Michael Barclay, Ian A.D. Jack and Jason Schneider, Have Not Been the Same: The Can-Rock Renaissance 1985-1995. ECW Press. ISBN 978-1-55022-992-9.
  9. ^ a b c "In anticipation of the Hip playing "Ahead By a Century" in Vancouver tonight, here's Gord Downie talkin' about it". The Georgia Straight, July 24, 2016.
  10. ^ "Best Video Winners 1991-2003". MuchMusic. Archived from the original on 2008-11-20. Retrieved 2010-05-21. 
  11. ^ Howell, Peter (1996-09-20). "Morissette wins 4 more trophies at video awards" (Pay-per-view). Toronto Star. Retrieved 2010-05-21. 
  12. ^ "1997 Best Video". junoawards.ca. Retrieved 2013-05-21. 
  13. ^ "Hey Rosetta!'s Tribute To The Tragically Hip Makes Fans Emotional". Huffington Post, July 23, 2016.
  14. ^ "Choir! Choir! Choir! sings “Ahead by a Century” in a touching tribute to Gord Downie". chartattack.com, May 27, 2016.
  15. ^ "All your favourite bands covered the Tragically Hip for Strombo’s Hip 30 tribute show". Chart Attack, January 2, 2017.
  16. ^ "The Jerry Cans Share Inuttitut Cover of the Tragically Hip's "Ahead by a Century". Exclaim!, June 29, 2017.
  17. ^ "Tori Amos covered the Tragically Hip at Massey Hall". Now, October 31, 2017.
  18. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 3028." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  19. ^ "Top RPM Rock/Alternative Tracks: Issue 2974." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  20. ^ "The Tragically Hip Chart History (Canadian Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 2016-08-30.
  21. ^ "RPM Year End Top 100 Hit Tracks". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 31 May 2018. 
  22. ^ "Canadian single certifications – The Tragically Hip – Ahead By A Century". Music Canada. 

External linksEdit