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Jay Baruchel on the Tragically Hip 
By
Editorial Staff

Published

August 18, 2016

Genre

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The national celebration of the Tragically Hip's Man Machine Poem tour, to be held in Kingston, Ont., on Saturday, Aug. 20, will be a momentous time for Canadians, and CBC will be there to broadcast it to the whole country, commercial-free, across our television, radio and digital platforms, including CBC Music's app via Apple or Android. For details, head to cbcmusic.ca/thehip.

In the lead-up to the event, we asked celebrated Canadians, from Geddy Lee to Clara Hughes, to tell us how the Hip has impacted their lives, and share stories and reflections they have of the band.

Below, Jay Brauchel shares his memories of the Tragically Hip from his first CD from the band to his favourite song. 

Why the Hip is Canada's band 

"I’ve tried to tell people that not every country has their band. Especially if you take a country like the States, for example, which has so many huge acts. Depending on who you ask on who America's band is, you’d get different answers depending on where you are in the States. But, from coast to coast here, if you ask anybody who Canada's band is, it's clearly the Tragically Hip. The Tragically Hip means to Canada what Oasis means to England, what Midnight Oil means to Australia, and it's just there's something really special about having incredibly talented artists that make wicked music, but who make wicked music for us. They had no aspirations, it seems, to ever try and leave. They weren't doing what a lot of others and actors seem to do which is to buy their time until they can go elsewhere. That never seems to ever have been an option for the Hip."

Favourite Hip song 

"'Bobcaygeon' — obviously everyone's going to talk about how amazing that song is and what it means to them. It does mean a great deal to me, too. I've been to Bobcaygeon and I have very vivid memories of watching the locks opening, coming up and down there when I was a kid. No matter where I am, no matter who I am with, if I put 'Bobcaygeon' on, there's this piece that takes over the room. For those who know it and know what it's about, it's this lovely little piece of home. For those that don't, it's just a great piece of music."

The Tragically Hip

First Hip album 

"Trouble at the Henhouse is the first Tragically Hip album I've ever owned. That was the one where I was around 14 or 15, and I had the courage to go music shopping alone. I would shop very quickly. I didn't want any hipsters or older kids to see me browsing because that would give them time to chime in or something. So, I grabbed the first one I could and it was Trouble at the Henhouse. That's how I got to know [the Tragically Hip]; that was my introduction. I could hear what kind of show they'd put on. That one was a real big one for me too. I played the hell out of Road Apples. That's a CD I scratched the hell out of. That was always the testament for me as a '90s kid. If a CD is scratched that means I really loved it! [Laughs]"

Why the Hip matters

"The Tragically Hip matter to me because they've always been there. The first concert I've ever went to, I saw the Tragically Hip at the Bell Centre, what was then Molson Centre, with By Divine Right. I'm a product of my generation. I'm a '90s kid, man. The Hip were always on TV and all my friends had their CDs and we'd all exchange them. A lot of people I know, they're the reason they learned how to play guitar, and the drums. I'm sure it's cliché, but [the Tragically Hip] have been the soundtrack to my life for as long as I could remember. The most important thing is that they're just incredible. The Hip have written so many, and have created so many wonderful songs and no one sounds like Gord Downie and that's down to his voice and his words. But, there's only one of him and it's just the most special, authentically Canadian music there is. It's a really fun thing to be outside of Canada surrounded by expats when the Hip come on. That's a really cool moment. 

"I think every song from [the Tragically Hip] is a bunch of stories. They have this great way of taking you from moment to moment and going through all manner of feelings and colour. One of the cool things of repeated listening to the Tragically Hip is little sentences that for whatever reason didn't land the first hundred times you heard it. And then you'll be sitting there hearing a song you've heard your entire life and it'll finally click, 'Oh, right! That's what he's saying! That's what he means. Holy smokes!' I think it's hard to hit the ceiling on the Hip. I don't think you could ever know all there is to know about it."

The Tragically Hip

More to explore:

The true, tragic and inspiring Canadian stories behind Gord Downie's best lyrics

Readers' poll: what is the best Tragically Hip song?

The Tragically Hip's albums, ranked

25 things you didn't know about the Tragically Hip

Is the Tragically Hip really the most Canadian band ever?