The Tragically Hip are a bit of an institution in Canuckistan. They are also an interesting example of a band who while they tour in the US and Europe seemed to have made a conscious decision to remain firmly based in their Canadian roots. The prevailing wisdom for many Canadian artists used to be that in order to make it big on had to bust in on the gigantic American market. The hip are an example of a band that has sold well enough in Canada that making it big in the US has never been a requirement. They have even performed for Queen Elizabeth II, and while Canadians are no longer royalists, they have great affection for it and the fact that they did perform for her is a mark of essential Canadianess. Many of their song lyric reference specific Canadian events, history, and geography. In Canada they play in huge arena in the US they tend to play small clubs. Most Canadians of a certain age ( mine) know most of the lyrics to their songs.
Wheat Kings is about a man named David Milgaard who was wrongly convicted of rape and murder. The whole affair shone a very unpleasant light on the Canadian justice system. It was a light that sorely needed shining and many people bring it up when discussing whether the death penalty has a place in Canada.
I have no idea who the guys are in this video montage but I spent many a summer camping in Algonquin Park and the song Three Pistols references
a brilliant Canadian painter named Tom Thompson. He was a part of the Group of Seven influential painters in the 1900’s to the 1920’s who are now considered icons.
Another favorite is Fifty Mission Cap, a song about Bill Barilko who played for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
He scored the winning goal who scored the winning goal in the 1951 Stanley Cup and then disappeared on a fishing trip that year. His body was found the next year the Leafs won the cup in 1962.
Although this video is several years old it gives you an idea of how big they are in Canada, and Gordon Downie, the lead singer is a bit of an eccentric.
A few more….
Hope you enjoyed meeting the Tragically Hip. Please don’t rec pony party, hang out, chit chat, and then go read some of the excellent offerings on our recent and rec’d list.