Canada: A Tragically Hip Nation

In order to understand Canada—its tepid mores and self-important culture, its assumption of election and ingrained narcissism—one could do worse than listen to the music of The Tragically Hip and observe the adulation that greets its lackluster songs and mannered performances. My American readers may have never heard of the group; Canadians have scarcely heard anything but—especially of late. The group, which has a street named after them in their native Kingston, Ontario (Tragically Hip Way that runs beside the Rogers K-Rock Centre), is symptomatic of a self-inflated country, the sort of country where one of its major newspapers, The National Post, can proudly devote an entire page to congratulating an Olympic athlete who brought home—a bronze.

  • ontario john

    Yes, but we have great homosexual parades and Margaret Atwood.

    • Pure Canadiana!

      • Clink9

        Maple syrup, Celebrate Sodomy, and dried up crusty, boring authors!

        • Winner!

          • I’ve been saving this for a special occasion. 😉

          • Heh;)

          • H

            You know you’re Canadian if … someone bumps into you and you apologize.

  • ismiselemeas

    I’ve railed against this for years. I can’t stand the TH. Now I’m subjected to entire neighbourhood backyard parties with drunk 40 somethings not even able to successfully complete a chorus without screwing up the lyrics. Much like the national anthem. The TH were unmusical, whiny, dripping with pathos, laden mixed metaphors around and basically unlistenable.

    • ontario john

      Yes but they sang Trudeau’s praises at their last concert, so they must be wonderful.

    • Clink9

      Good humour.

    • Maggat

      Don Messer was far better. Ask my mother-in-law, she worshiped him.

      • ismiselemeas

        I’m more of an Alex Francis MacKay fan, regardless the fiddle is king.

    • canminuteman

      I was with you until the comment about the drunk Oshawans in Mexico. Although I have never been to Mexico it hits a bit close to home. And people from Oshawa aren’t Oshawans, They’re Shwahilis.

      I’ve been referring to the Tragically Hip as the “Tragically Overrated” for twenty odd years now.

      • Clink9

        I’ve always called them ‘Shwabies and they speak Shwahili.

        And as far as I’ve seen, they prefer Cuba to Mexico as it’s cheaper.

  • PaulW

    The author didn’t think very highly of Canada or Canadians, did he? In the comments someone mentioned Canada originating with a yawn (as opposed to a bang, as was the case in America) – essentially created by cowards who didn’t have the courage or interest to stand up to Britain, as Americans did. Something to that, no doubt, and the obvious caution, reserve, call it what you will, that used to be considered a “Canadian” trait, stands in contrast to the stereotypical brashness and confidence of Americans. But there are advantages to both.

    In the past (now we’re just becoming another Islamic hellhole thanks to the wonders of multiculti) Canada was less violent, more peaceful and law-abiding than was typically the case in the States – boring even. But the excitement, prosperity, just do it and do it yourself attitude, the raw energy of the States, came with a price: more violence and crime, for instance. Personally, I admire the American approach rather more but I don’t discount the Canadian one completely either. That said, the Canadian tendency to feel superior and more “civilized” than their American cousins, has always grated on me: it’s clearly a pathetic reflection of a deep, underlying sense of insecurity, as well as simple jealousy of a more successful and satisfied society.

    On another note, I couldn’t name a single Tragically Hip song though I’ve always thought the group’s name was kind of catchy ….

    • I don’t mind a couple of their songs, but have never owned an album.

      The tour was way over the top but people need something to unite them, and this was harmless if predictable.

      The Tragically Hip were uncommonly saccharine Canadiana.

  • Waffle

    As usual, Solway nails it. But he misplaces the blame for the Hip’s popularity. He writes “. . . and Downie is not to blame for being a ghastly versifier. His acolytes, however, are to blame for being ghastly critics.”

    Is this really surprising when they were weaned on the likes of Margaret Atwood?

    • They were born when CanCon could still have an impact, now in the age of digital downloads and piracy CanCon is as effective as King Canute.

    • truepeers

      Atwood is/was a better poet than a novelist, but she went where the money was i suspect.

  • dance…dancetotheradio

    Look, I’m sorry that Downie is dying.
    But, I hate the Hip.
    Three other bands that never got their due and only flashed briefly were the Plasterscene Replicas, the Pukka Orchestra and Boys Brigade.
    That CanCon accretes almost exclusively to dreck like Neil Young and the Hip while ignoring what were immensely, to me anyway, influential and creative bands in the eighties is an enduring mystery and irritation.

    • dance…dancetotheradio
    • dance…dancetotheradio
    • dance…dancetotheradio

      The passion of love is burning inside of me.

    • xavier

      If the Internet had existed back in the 80s there would’ve been an amazing selection of bands. Many of them would still exist today instead of its members quiiting and becoming working stiffs 🙁

      I know that in Quebec the Jutras Canadian content rules gave a shot in the arm to the Quebec music scene that’s was needed and beneficial. At least nowadays in the province the artists rise or fall on their merits

      • dance…dancetotheradio

        I’m a working stiff but I have no musical talent aside from listening.