An American Music Fan Laments the Loss of his Beloved Tragically Hip

Most of America proved immune (or ignorant) to the charms and talents of the Tragically Hip, but there was a sizeable number of fans in border cities like Buffalo and Cleveland. Joel Reid was one of them. This is from Decider.

There’s almost no such thing as local culture anymore. So few things remain tucked away in their little pockets of America. No more public-access TV shows that only you and the people you grew up alongside will remember in a decade. Discovering a band at a local music club has given way to discovering pop artists on YouTube. Facebook and Twitter and podcasts and the interconnectedness of the globe mean you’re as likely to discover a band from Sacramento as you are one from down the road in your Massachusetts town. It’s not like I grew up on the horse-and-buggy/telegraph times, either. The MTV of my youth trafficked in music enough that I could trust that I was on the receiving end of the same stream of popular culture as everybody else in the country. With one incredibly notable exception: the Canadian rock outfit called The Tragically Hip.

With the exception of a Saturday Night Live appearance and a berth at the ill-fated Woodstock ’99, awareness of the Hip stopped cold at the Canadian border. What’s always been notable about that isn’t that there was never much crossover into the States, but that the band could be as massively, nation-dominatingly popular as they were in Canada while remaining virtually unknown in America. This was not how culture operated. Alanis crossed the border. So did Martin Short, Jim Carrey, and Sarah Polley. Growing up in the border city of Buffalo, New York — where, in a quirk of geography, Canada (Fort Erie, Ontario, specifically) lies to the west as well as the north — and being privy to Canadian broadcast channels, we were privy to some Canadian-only content, but these were small shows. Kids’ programs like Mr. Dress-Up. Modest TV hits like Due South. The idea that a band like the Tragically Hip could be the biggest band in the country a twenty-minute drive away from us and yet utterly anonymous an hour south.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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