I'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.
Others in this series: