If there was a goal that everyone remembers it was back in old '72.
We all squeezed the stick and we all pulled the trigger and all that I remember is sittin' beside you.
You said that you didn't give a fuck about hockey, and I never saw someone say that before.
You held my hand and we walked home the long way.
You were loosening my grip on Bobby Orr.
- Fireworks

Guitarist Paul Langlois claims the Tragically Hip are "Canadian" and "a band". This is in response to accusations that they are the quintessential Canadian band. Not exactly unfounded accusations. For one thing, the Hip, as they are generally called 'round here, are one of our country's national treasures. The 5 man band, from Kingston, Ontario, have been playing together since 1983, and had their first album released in 1987.

While they have been Überpopular up here within the dominion, they are relatively unknown outside of our fair country. And, they're happy with it that way, not really making much of an effort to break into the American market that so many of their fellow artists try to (and for the most part fail to). When they do tour in the states, they play small venues that are quickly filled up with Canadian ex-patriates. As stated by Hip drummer Johnny Fey:

If you ask the five people that it doesn't bother, you could save yourself a lot of newsprint. I mean, who wants to be Hootie and the Blowfish? Are they a band anymore? Or Soul Asylum. They put a record out, it became huge, it was all driven by MTV, and their next record sold like 20,000, copies. What kind of a follow-up is that? What kind of a fanbase is that? I think that Canadians appreciate us for the music, and not really anything else. And that's the way you want it.

Update: I've gotten some flack from people for how much I'm stressing that the Hip are a Canadian band. I liken it to Tim Hortons. While many people outside of Canada have heard of Tim Horton's, and even some cities in the states have a Tim Horton's, you don't have tiny little towns of a couple thousand people with more than one Timmy's. It's like that for the Hip. They have fans elsewhere, but up here, they're a part of the collective consciousness.


The Hip share more in common with the collective Canadian personality than a stand-offish attitude towards our southern neighbors. Despite their name, they are anything but hip. They don't try to keep caught up with all the latest trends, and they don't try to set any trends themselves. They just are what they are, which is 5 guys from Kingston, who play some kicking music.

You are ahead by a century
But this is our life
And disappointing you's gettin' me down
- Ahead by a century

They're quite consistent, not trying to reinvent their sound every album, simply allowing it to gradually change over time. For one of the most popular rock bands in the country, they're rather humble, some might even say shy. They don't fight for time in the press, they don't get in our face about whatever good cause it is they're supporting. They're just out there playing their music, and people show up to listen. In fact, they are so out the limelight, that I'd wager that most of the band's fans, myself included, would be hard pressed to name a single member of the band, with the exception of lead singer / songwriter Gord Downie.

It's not too hard to say why Canadians like the Hip so much. Downie writes catchy tunes filled with little tidbits of Canadiana. They're the types of guys who rock out but don't let it go to their heads.

They have been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, and also have a Star on the Canadian Walk of Fame, in Toronto. And one more last proof of how much of an impact the Tragically Hip have had on Canada's music scene, they are the only band that I can think of that the CRTC lets get away with using the word Fuck on the radio.

RPGeek says re The Tragically Hip: Hate to rain on your parade, but I know Sarah McLachlan got away with saying 'fuck' on the radio in her song "Building a Mystery"... ('course she's not a band...)

Great. Thanks a lot for ruining my parade RPGeek. Jerk.

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
- New Orleans is Sinking

The Tragically Hip are: And they have released the following albums: And the tracks on their self titled initial release are:
  • Small Town Bringdown
  • Last American Exit
  • Killing Time
  • Evelyn
  • Cemetery Sideroad
  • I'm a Werewolf, Baby
  • Highway Girl
  • All Canadian Surf Club
Sources:
All lyrics copywrite The Tragically Hip, 1996-1998.
Cindy McGlynn. "Hip-o-Rama," eye weekly. 12 December 1996. <www.eye.net/eye/issue/issue_12.12.96/music/hip.html> (14 August, 2005.)
Chris Yurkiw. "The Triumphantly Unhip," The Montreal Mirror. 3 February, 1999. <www.montrealmirror.com/ARCHIVES/1999/020499/music1.html> (14 August, 2005.)
The Tragically Hip. "the tragically hip" 2004. <www.thehip.com> (14 August, 2004)

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