Toronto Mike

A Texan Reviews The Tragically Hip


The Tragically Hip are playing the House of Blues tonight in Houston, Texas at 8:00pm.  That prompted Nicholas L. Hall from the Houston Press to preview the show.

Here's what Hall wrote.  After the blockquote, I'll respond as The Tragically Hip's biggest fan in the blogosphere.  The emphasis below belongs to me.

Perhaps Canadian rockers The Tragically Hip should have thought up a different name. Despite considerable popularity and critical acclaim in America's 51st state, the rootsy group failed to find a widely accepting audience in the lower 48. Staunchly traditional and unflinchingly resolute in its aim to avoid label corruptions, the band never really played to either side of the American musical divide. Straightforward rock and roll with a slight Southern twist was just not edgy enough to find a comfortable home on college-radio dials, yet the band's refusal to pander to wider audiences by dumbing down singer-songwriter Gord Downie's philosophically inclined lyrics and poetic delivery has kept the Hip largely out of the mainstream. Its most recent release, this year's We Are the Same, comes as a bit of an aptly titled surprise. The Hip has shrugged away most of its raw rock-and-roll persona, swathing most tracks in an overpoweringly radio-friendly blandness that reeks of pandering. It's really a shame, especially considering the fact that the raw, rootsy paradigm the band has employed thus far is actually experiencing a bit of a renaissance. If the Hip would only return to its roots, it might just live up to its name.

Firstly, that whole 51st state thing isn't funny.  Maybe in Texas it's cool to think of Canada that way, but it sure isn't based in reality, and it's offensive to the 30 million plus living in the independent nation of Canada.

Describing the Hip as "straightforward rock and roll with a slight Southern twist" makes me think this guy hasn't heard a Hip album since Up to Here.  Actually, I'll bet he hasn't heard anything beyond "New Orleans is Sinking".

I'm sure he hasn't heard the new album, We Are the Same.  His suggestion they've "shrugged away most of (their) raw rock-and-roll persona" with "overpoweringly radio-friendly blandness that reeks of pandering" is so off-base.  I actually don't think We Are the Same is particularly radio-friendly at all, and it's still Hip rock and excellent.  In my humble opinion, the previous album was far more radio-friendly.  Songs like "In View" seemed hooked to be singles, but We Are the Same manages to be amazing without the radio-ready melodies.

And finally, this guy clearly wants more "New Orleans is Sinking".  He's practically begging for it.  NOIS is "their roots" that will finally allow this poor band from the 51st state to live up to it's name.  Another NOIS would make them Hip, even thought the original NOIS didn't.

My Leafs rant yesterday made me feel a whole lot better, and nothing is more Canadian than following up a hockey rant with a Hip one.  I have one thing to say to Nicholas L. Hall and others like him.  It's better for us that you don't understand.

I think you either get it, or you don't.  If you get it, you get it large and you're hooked.  If you don't, you don't, and that's just the way it is.

I just get it, and there's little in this world that feels as good as being bathed in the poetic ramblings of Gord and being surrounded by those songs I know and love.  Here's Your Tragically Hip Primer, if you're interested in more.

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