Your Tragically Hip Primer

The TragI'm writing this Tragically Hip primer off the top of my head, because I was there and I remember.

In 1989, I heard "Blow at High Dough" on Q107. The bluesy rock sound so captivated me, my buddy Joe and I headed downtown the next weekend so I could buy The Tragically Hip's Up To Here at Sam the Record Man. He picked up Alice Cooper's Welcome to my Nightmare, but I digress. I came home and played my first Hip album and I was smitten.

"New Orleans Is Sinking" and "Boots or Hearts" would also make Q107's Top Ten at 10, but I'm going to share another track from this magnificent slice of Cancon. "38 Years Old" wasn't sung live since 1993 until one magic night at Fort York in 2006. I was there and here's that performance that gave me goosebumps.

Again, in a ritual I was loyal to when it involved "my bands", I eagerly anticipated Road Apples and couldn't wait to get my grubby mitts on it in 1991. "Little Bones" exploded on the charts, but there were other gems, including this song which would have been my wedding song had I had a real wedding with music and all. This is "Long Time Running."

Then, when you thought things couldn't get any better with this amazing Kingston, Ontario band, they released "Fully Completely." Are you kidding me? This album had amazing rock numbers like "Courage," "Looking for a Place to Happen," "At the Hundredth Meridian" and "Locked in the Trunk of a Car," a Toronto Maple Leafs anthem that introduced me to Bill Barilko in "Fifty Mission Cap" and perhaps the sweetest song I've ever heard, drenched in Canadiana and opening with a call from a loon. Yes, a friggin' loon! Here's "Wheat Kings."

Hip fans get it. If you don't, it's probably better for us that you don't understand. If I had to name my favourite band of all-time, my answer would be The Tragically Hip. They offer me an ideal blend of great bluesy rock numbers, tender ballads, amazing live performances while weaving a uniquely Canadian tapestry that evokes both pride and the satisfaction that they belong to us. No, they never made it big in the United States, but that hasn't stopped me from seeing them ten times.

I've enjoyed every release since Fully Completely, the album that broke them for the masses. Every release has a wonderful gem or two or three. Here's one of my most recent favourites, "It's a Good Life if you Don't Weaken" from their 2002 CD In Violet Light. If you want to see more official Hip videos, I once compiled them all on one convenient page.

Now how to end my Tragically Hip primer... I know! Here's what should have become the new opening for Hockey Night in Canada. This one is "Lonely End of the Rink" from their most recent album, World Container.

If you're still interested, check out my Tragically Hip page and my tribute to Bill Barilko.

Others in this series:

Share this entry

Comments (12 - click here to join in!)


Bill Barilko disappeared....he was on a fishing trip

December 6, 2008 @ 5:11 PM

James Edgar

I hated Blow at High Dough the first few times i heard it. Partly as I didn't really understand the words as my car radio was crap. I had heard their Ep at that time and liked it but it was New Orleans that really got me hooked.sadly I've only seen them twice. At a edge fest in 1990? And at the Okeefe Centre a few years ago.I wanted to see tem more but never manage to get tickets and will NOT pay scalpers for anybody. I have every albumn and they are always in high rotation. I LOVED world container and In Between Evolution both of which don't seem all that popular. Thanks for the videos.

December 6, 2008 @ 5:19 PM

Buffalo Boy Mike

Nice post Mike, I discovered the Hip via Road Apples and then I saw them Live at UB's Spring fest. They played that day with School of Fish and since then, I have been hooked and rarely miss a show. I have seen them 18 times now.

December 6, 2008 @ 5:24 PM


The HIP are REM wannabees

December 6, 2008 @ 7:26 PM

Buffalo Boy Mike

Actually Andrew, they are more comparable to Midnight Oil. Check out some live Midnight Oil footage and then look at the Hip live especailly after Gordy went bald.
Midnight Oil Toured with the Hip on Another Roadside Attraction I believe too.

December 6, 2008 @ 11:23 PM

Jason |

"Every release has a wonderful gem or two or three"

So you're saying your favourite band can't put out a good ALBUM?

It took me numerous listenes to get into Fully Completely and really it's been nothing but downhill for them from there.

December 7, 2008 @ 8:58 AM

Toronto Mike

Hey Jason, I'm starting to think this would be a more fun hobby with an extra line in my .htaccess file.

December 7, 2008 @ 9:30 AM

Mike from Lowville

Hey Mike, got one on you. I was at a small bar in Burlington in 1987 where this band called The Tragically Hip played. Thought it was a cool band with a cool name but I remember hearing my friend say, "they will never make it with a name like that". I guess if you look at how they were received in the States you would have to agree. Myself, I compare their success to The Guess Who. Anyways, I bought the 7 song cassette tape at the bar and a couple of weeks later I heard Last American Exit on the Spirit. I still have the cassette. A few years later I saw The Barenaked Ladies at the same bar.

December 7, 2008 @ 11:49 AM

Toronto Mike

Cool story, Mike from Lowville.

I'd argue The Guess Who were much more popular state-side than the Hip. American Woman went to #1 down there...

December 7, 2008 @ 11:50 AM

Buffalo Boy Mike

Jason, I loved Fully Completely, but I would argue that the Hip had one marginal release and that was Music at Work, which by all standards, was still a great release. There are few good rock bands releasing quality rock albums these days on a regular basis with quality songs throughout each album.
The Hip have had some of their best material in the last 8 years starting with In Violet Light. World Container was to me their best release since Day For Night which to this day stands out as their best all around release to date. They now have a well respected producer in Bob Rock who has worked with Metallica. If any producer can take a band to the top its Bob Rock. I still think this band can make it in the States. They toured the hell out of World Container and recieved some critical acclaim here in the States.

December 7, 2008 @ 1:01 PM

Fredericton Steve

Hey Jason, we get it. Your musical taste is cooler than everyone elses.

December 8, 2008 @ 12:14 PM


Thankfully, this band makes music that is so intelligent that it will never be hugely popular in America.

Great post.

January 10, 2009 @ 9:52 AM

Leave a comment

Only 12 comments? C'mon, we can do better... Leave a comment above and let's keep this conversation going!

« Big Pimpin' Maple Leafs 1, Capitals 2 »