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The Tragically Hip “My Music at Work”

Published in Blog Archive, Culture Bully. Tags: , .

When the Seattle Weekly asked “Can anyone explain the Tragically Hip to me?” this past March, the first thought I had was: no. The comment that fell in line with my thoughts on the subject read “As for explaining The Hip… well, there is no explaining. You either get it, or you don’t. And when you do, it’s bliss of the most frenetic, rocking, lyrical, ranting, sarcastic, insightful, lost-in-the-music kind.” That’s about right.

In Minnesota there is an unabashed love for a select few bands that are hoisted onto a level of their own; bands like the Replacements, the Jayhawks and Hüsker Dü. I still don’t “get” the Jayhawks and I don’t enjoy the other two bands on a level remotely close to that of many of my neighbors, but I understand why there is such a love for the bands: their music retains a local focus and an element of familiarity regardless of where and when you listen to it. This is further amplified if you’re born here and grew up with the music. And that is essentially the best way that I can describe why Canadians love the band as much as they (we) do—that, and they’re just fucking awesome.

2000’s Music @ Work doesn’t come close to being one of the band’s better albums, and its songs aren’t entirely representative of the genius of singer Gord Downie’s writing. A few months back Downie was interviewed on Q TV, and that interview comes close to help identify why it’s easy to love him, the band, and even Music @ Work. There’s a sense of charm that Downie carries with him, and it’s that unwavering intangible that makes it so easy to become engrossed by his words when he talks or sings. “My Music at Work” was the band’s first single of the new millennium, and one that ushered in a feeling of rebirth following 1998’s brilliant Phantom Power. It is my favorite song that the band has recorded during these past 10 years, and one that lends me the comforts of home time after time. Hope that helps explain the Hip, if only just a little.