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, and was nominated for "Best Single" at the 1997 Juno Awards. It is the band's most successful single in their native Canada. The song was certified platinum in Canada in 2016.
|"Ahead by a Century"|
|Single by The Tragically Hip|
|from the album Trouble at the Henhouse|
|Released||April 22, 1996|
|Genre||Alternative rock, Folk rock|
|Producer(s)||Mark Vreeken, The Tragically Hip|
|The Tragically Hip singles chronology|
The song was the final one performed by the band at their final concert on August 20, 2016. CBC Television used the song for their highlight montage to close their coverage of the 2016 Summer Olympics. It subsequently was also used for the opening titles of the 2017 CBC/Netflix series Anne.
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. 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". 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.
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. The video was also nominated for "Best Video" at the 1997 Juno Awards.
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. In the same year, the Toronto-based Choir! Choir! Choir! dedicated a performance of the song to Downie following the diagnosis.
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. Following Downie's death, Barenaked Ladies added "Chancellor/Ahead by a Century" to the setlists for several shows on their concurrent concert tour.
|Canada (Music Canada)||Platinum||80,000^|
^shipments figures based on certification alone
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- on YouTube