Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Poetry in Music: The Hip That Are Tragic

It's been awhile since I posted about music, but that doesn't mean I've stopped hunting music with poetic tendencies.

There's one band in particular that I've liked for awhile whose songs are nearly always lyrically poetic. They're The Tragically Hip and they're from Ontario, Canada. I have to say I'm not so sure how well known they are on this side of the border, but in Canada, they're huge. I discovered them as a youth here in the Detroit area--the Hip got a good amount of radio play on the two Canadian radio stations I listened to frequently. So whether you've heard of them or not, I'm a pretty big fan.

Gordon Downie, their lead singer and main songwriter, writes lyrics that are practically dripping with the sounds, language, and emotion that we equate with poetry. I've struggled choosing only one song to share, but I think the one that best fits my "Poetry in Music" category is called "Silver Jet", from the album In Violet Light:

I enjoy reading the lyrics, too, because they reveal wordplay ("inviolate light" NOT "in violet light" as the album's title led me to believe), some great sounding place names (Cape Spear, Clayquot Sound, Northhumberland), unique words (archipelago, nocturne), alluring inner rhyme ("air of peril"), and some all-around great lines ("I think to myself 'I don't really know my heart' / and you whisper 'me too.'").

Hopefully, you'll explore this great band's deep catalog and bask in Downie's unique voice and his beautifully written lyrics. Songs like (first song I ever heard by The Hip) "Ahead by a Century," "Yer Not the Ocean," "The Last Recluse," "Emperor Penguin," and (one of my personal favorites) "Wheat Kings." Besides, how can you be a devoted reader of a blog like this one and not love a band with a song titled "Poets?"

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