Tuesday, October 9, 2012
FULLY COMPLETELY by The Tragically Hip, classic album review by Chuck Joy
Ever notice how life unfolds crabwise, sideways? Our most important discoveries sometimes revealing themselves before we’re even ready? That’s my story with the Tragically Hip. I don’t know, maybe fifteen years ago I gifted my cousin Jeni with a Hip CD, Fully Completely. I’d never heard it. I wonder if she still has it? I’d heard maybe one, maybe two Hip songs by then, over the radio, a distant FM station. Now, I recognize maybe I wanted to hear more Hip music but I presented Cousin Jeni that opportunity.
And here’s more: years later, seems like a long time ago still, I was driving with my daughter Veronica to the Amtrak station for Buffalo when I slipped a copy I had finally obtained for myself of Fully Completely into the CD slot. By the time that play reached Fifty-Mission Cap I was so transported the energy woke young Veronica from an early-morning driving nap. “I think this I true,” I told her, my voice harsh with emotion, “this Bill Barilko story, the last goal he ever scored won the Leafs the cup, and then he died.” Veronica’s eyes were wide. Behind her dark-haired head the leaves outside the car, along the margins of Interstate 90, were turning, autumn leaves, orange and green and red.
Fully Completely rocks relentlessly, steadily. The closest thing to a ballad might be Wheat Kings. Let’s see what tomorrow brings. Last week brought another trip. I was on my way to Authors Books in Warren, Pennsylvania, driving again, listening to Fully Completely. I remember thinking, Locked In The Trunk Of A Car may be the perfect rock song, but I was probably a little over-excited. What song could ever be the perfect rock song, or any song? The Hip do rock, oh yeah. And the lyrics, when you can even hear ‘em, and they make any sense, do satisfy. I think Tragically Hip lyrics appeal to poets. My own Enhanced Poetry CD, Live At The Jive, includes Track 14, Gordon Downie Reads Poetry.
And those lyrics on Fully Completely include a full dose of death, considering death, serious business, riveting, for me, death focuses my mind. My wife, she finds it morbid, Hip music, maybe that’s why, that aggressive concentration on mortality. Normally my wife loves everything Canadian, as do I, but no, she says, “Turn off that Tragically Hip, I find it morbid”. Or maybe I imagined she said that. She said something like that. Ask her.
All these songs aren’t classics because they were big hits. These Tragically Hip compositions don’t get nearly enough attention. Have you heard Fully Completely? Have you listened to it yet? If I say, Courage, do you alert, like you were a dog, hearing your master’s voice? If I say, Oh what can you do, do you reply, They’re all gone, we’ll go too? These songs are classics because they reach and exceed a level adequate to be called really good, if you like songs with a big beat, robust melody, and words you want to repeat.
I’ve accumulated a thick stack of Hip CDs since Fully Completely. Phantom Power used to provide bumper music for the poetry open mic I hosted, and I bet you can guess why. All the discs are good. Even when I think one might fall short from greatness, it’s still good. Here’s my dream: me and George, (It’d be you, honey, but you don’t like the Tragically Hip), George Stabile, me and George, we climb into whatever I’m driving and head east on Route 6, listening to nothing but the Tragically Hip. I’d hold Fully Completely until we were just past Coudersport.