The Tragically Hip: At The Hundredth Meridian Meaning
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At The Hundredth Meridian Lyrics
And take my life in my hands?
Where the Great Plains begin at the hundredth meridian
At the hundredth meridian where the Great Plains begin
Driving down a corduroy road,
Weeds standing shoulder high
Ferris wheel is...
I always interpreted this song to be about the violation of sacred First Nations gravesites and of their rights as human beings in general in the name of colonialism. "If I die of vanity, promise me to bury me someplace I don't want to be " and " dig me up and transport me unceremoniously" referring to the unearthing ancient remains from their proper burial location to somewhere else, determined by people who did not know them, and do not understand, acknowledge, or follow their culture, religion, or customs. The Raven figured prominently in the beliefs of First Nations people, and I see the line about one carrying a "muddy old skull" being another reference to the desecration of ancient burial grounds. The "whistling its' approval" would be white settlers and the rest of society, happy to see buildings erected, roads paved, etc. atop sacred land. "Whispers of disease" - well, the majority of First Nations peoples were annihilated by diseases brought from Europe. "Acts of enormity" - massacres, War, theft, residential schools, what atrocities were not committed against First Nations.
I haven't found this interpretation anywhere else on the internet, which isn't to say it isn't there, but I haven't seen it if it is. I haven't heard it or read it anywhere else either. Maybe everybody will think I'm crazy but I really think I'm right.
anonymous Aug 20th, 2016 8:38pm report
Located near Neepawa Manitoba the 100th meridian
anonymous Mar 9th, 2016 3:17am report
The 100th meridian west is considered the dividing line between Eastern and Western Canada, "Where the Great Plains begin."
The Canadian prairies (comprised of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta to the Rocky mountains) have a culture that's distinct from other areas, and there is a definite divide between East and West. The song has a feel of flat, expansive land ("hard, huge, and haunted") that holds memories of Western legends like the buffalo. The opening like ("debunk an American myth") points out that this is legend, not fact, and the prairies have changed over time.
There is also a book called "Beyond the 100th Meridian," about an American explorer, so there could be references to that.
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