While not really of any interest to anyone aside from me, I want to gather up my thoughts on The Tragically Hip. I had heard of them by 1992 or so, though mostly as a band with an odd name. I don't think they got any radio play in the States.
I was in Toronto from 1993-94 and I heard them from time to time on the radio. (I mostly listened to CFNY 102.1 The Edge, and while this was more of a pure alternative station at that time, they must have played The Hip once in a while.) Anyway, I must have picked up Fully Completely then (I have a CD manufactured in Canada), along with Gordon by the Barenaked Ladies.
I was visiting a friend in Chicago in spring of 1995, and I happened to see in the paper that The Tragically Hip was playing Metro. I couldn't convince him to go, and he missed out on a great show (April 1, 1995). I just looked over the set list, and it was pretty incredible (part of the Day for Night tour). Incidentally, I have heard them do So Hard Done By live after all. I really only knew the Fully Completely material, but the other songs were certainly strong. Gordon was wearing a white cowboy hat and danced around but wasn't completely eccentric at this point. This was back when they still were thinking they might crack the U.S. market, and in fact the show was the week after the famed (or infamous) SNL broadcast...
While I occasionally picked up Tragically Hip albums from time to time, the one that I play the most often remains Fully Completely, though last year I started running through Yer Favourites on a routine basis, so that I have gotten to know most of the bigger hits off the other albums.
Anyway, I saw them play a mini-set at Yonge-Dundas Square, leaving after they finished Fifty Mission Cap, and then I saw the Fully and Completely tour last year. And then of course, last night I saw what is probably their last show in Toronto (hopefully not, of course). It's fair to say that while I like the band quite a bit, I wasn't truly shaped by them growing up. I don't have those memories of blasting the Hip while camping out in the woods, though I have been known to play Fully Completely on road trips. That's ok. We all come to music we like on different paths, and there really is no single way to appreciate music.
I actually just stumbled across this story about a man who has build a website that explores all the lyrics of all the songs from The Tragically Hip. I don't have time to explore now, but it is something I will check out later. He also says something to the effect that we all approach this band and the music and the weirdness that is Gord Downie in different ways and that is ok. It is a Canadian band worth celebrating, even if no one in the U.S. really cares (obviously a slight exaggeration).