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  • Writer's pictureGabrielle Bossy

The Tragically Hip & Canadian Identity: Seven songs that make us patriotic

It’s no secret that as Canadians we are deeply connected to our vast and (let’s face it) beautiful landscape. Even those who are tied to their desk Monday through Friday find themselves counting down to the time when they’ll be cracking a beer open by the lake, hiking through the woods or laying out under the stars in a big, open field. For many of us, the Tragically Hip have been the soundtrack to those moments when we have felt that connection to our environment.

I could tell you the history of the Hip and I could even (and was very VERY tempted) to blog about all the idiot scalpers out there stealing all the Hip tickets and making profit off true fans of the band and frankly a dying man… but I thought I’d turn your attention to seven Hip songs that have made me and thousands of others, proud to be Canadian. Well robots, you can’t take that from us.

Photo from The Feldman Agency

1. The Last Recluse

Perhaps one of the most overtly Canadian songs in the Hip’s repertoire, The Last Recluse is a slow song that evokes images of a black canoe and a Canada goose. In my opinion, it’s the perfect song for a dark summer night.

2. Bobcaygeon

Of course you knew this song would make the cut. Bobcaygeon not only talks about Toronto and the RCMP but also the quaint little Kawartha town for which it was named. It’s an epic love story that will go down as a classic Canuck romance.

3. Looking for a Place to Happen

While most Hip songs make you want to frolic in the woods (ok maybe that’s an exaggeration) or paddle a canoe, Looking for a Place to Happen reminds me of a great Friday night. Still speaking of the French explorer who discovered Canada, Jacques Cartier, this song evokes Canadiana in a much subtler way. After all, we’re not too showy.

4. 38 Years Old

Although this song takes some historical liberties to say the least, it tells the story of a prison escape in Kingston, ON. in the 1970s. While much of the song is fictional, you gotta give it up for the Hip’s ability to tell a story.

5. Wheat Kings

If you’re a fan of the Hip, Wheat Kings was probably the first song that came to mind when I mentioned this list. Starting with the epic call of the loon, this song is the best way to finish a long day of camping, fishing or cottaging. It’s the ultimate ballad for the great Canadian outdoors.

6. Fiddler’s Green

To be honest, I always thought Fiddler’s Green was just a road in South Western Ontario. It’s much more. Fiddler’s Green is actually an afterlife for sailors in maritime folklore. Cool eh? Gord Downie wrote this moving song for his nephew who passed away. It’s written about his mother and the struggle with losing her son.

7. As I Wind Down the Pines

This song exhibits some of the most poetic lyrics in the Tragically Hip’s catalogue. The song evokes the true connection between humans and their environment.

What are your favourite Tragically Hip songs? Which have shaped your vision of the Canadian identity?

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