Skip to main content

Hip Study: Carleton University Grad Student on the Songs of the Tragically Hip

Hip Study:
Carleton University Grad Student
on the Songs of the Tragically Hip


Critical Constructions of Canadianness: The Tragically Hip and Representations of Canadian Identity 
Michelle MacQueen talks about her research

Carleton University master's student Michelle MacQueen was recently listed as a top 25 finalist of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s (SSHRC) Storyteller competition. Her research subject? The songs of the Tragically Hip.
The Tragically Hip performing in Aspen, United States (16 October 2007) by Kim Pardi
At the bottom of her research is the notion of culture and identity intertwined. "It is how music develops Canadian identity," she explains.

According to Michelle, the Tragically Hip catalogue contains over 300 Canadian lyrical references. It was the nature of those references that drew her interest. "They either have a darker tone, or darker subjects," she says.

She notes songs like Wheat Kings, which talks about the real life unjust imprisonment of David Milgard, and Goodnight Attawapiskat, that touches on the troubled First Nations community. Even Bobcaygeon, which, while on the surface is a romantic love song, also contains a reference to social unrest and white supremacists, albeit in a more poetic mode.

"I wouldn't necessarily call myself a fan," Michelle says, somewhat surprisingly. As she points out, she was a generation behind the Hip's biggest demographic. "This project is actually my Master's thesis."

The Hip's Final Concert -- televised live across the nation in August 2017 -- and the surrounding mass media coverage is what convinced her to take their music on as the subject of her research. As she watched the live stream and saw the band at work on stage, as well as the connection to the fans, she understood their appeal firsthand. "I thought that was really powerful," she says. "That's what really drew me in."
Gord Downie at the Hillside Festival 2001 by Ryan Merkley
In turning her academic lens on the iconic Canadian band, however, she didn't become an uncritical fan. "There are some issues with taking them as representing all Canadians," she points out. Made up of entirely white male members, it can hardly be said to be diverse.

The massive public platform generated by their Final Concert included the Prime Minister himself, Michelle points out, adding weight to their message. "It's important to look at what they were saying," she says. She notes that their darker and more truthful message comes in contrast to many of the more celebratory songs of many artists considered to be quintessentially Canadian, such as Stompin' Tom Connors.

One of the challenges was describing her thesis in 300 words or less than 3 minutes for the Storytellers' competition. As a top 25 finalist, MacQueen will receive a cash prize of $3,000.

The next step involves joining the remaining 24 contestants to deliver live presentations of their work at the 2018 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Regina – and compete for a top five competition spot.

Here's her pitch:

Comments

What Else Is Hot This Week?

FACTORY presents World Premiere ACTS OF FAITH November 19 to 28 2020 - Free Livestream

 From a media release: World Premiere FACTORY presents  ACTS OF FAITH by David Yee Directed by Nina Lee Aquino Starring Natasha Mumba November 19 – 28, 2020 @ 7:30PM Streamed live for 6 performances Free of charge TORONTO (October 19, 2020) - To kick off its groundbreaking 2020/21 season, Factory presents the world premiere of acts of faith, by multi-award winning Asian Canadian playwright David Yee, directed by Nina Lee Aquino, and starring Natasha Mumba. Written specifically to be performed for a digital platform, acts of faith will stream live to audiences at home for six performances, November 19-28, 2020.  Thanks to the generous support of the TD Bank Group, admission is being offered entirely free of charge to audiences across the country and beyond. acts of faith tells a story about the power of faith, the inescapable persistence of our online identities, and the nature of truth in a digital age. The story follows Faith, a young woman who gets mistaken for a prophet. When a ques

Blues Single | Bushwick Blooze Band: Waiting (Independent / 20 October 2020)

Blues Single Bushwick Blooze Band: Waiting (Independent / 20 October 2020) Stream It From Your Fave Service Waiting is the latest in a string of singles released by Bushwick Blooze Band. The Brooklyn-based blues trio have been performing and recording the blues around the NYC area since 2018. Their first album "Cryin' for the L Train" was released in January 2019, and included covers of famous songs composed by their greatest influencers such as Little Richard, The Allman Brothers Band, Freddie King, and Eddie Vinson.  Bushwick Blooze Band is finishing up the production of their second album "Yes Dear" and unlike the previous cover record, this new album will be their first original contribution to the genres they love. Waiting is an upbeat blues track with a party kind of veneer over solid musicianship. What begins with a classic blues feel transforms into an extended psychadelic flavoured trip. Inventive guitar licks almost make you forget about the virtuosity

Blaise La Bamba & Kotakoli November 7th 2020 Online - PWYC

 From a media release: Batuki Music Society and Alliance Francaise Toronto present A virtual concert featuring Blaise La Bamba & Kotakoli November 7th 2020 at 8:00 PM Enjoy the concert from home! K inshasa’s vibrant nightlife has long been world-famous. It is home to the subculture known informally as the Society of Ambiance-Makers and Elegant People (SAPEUR), which has spread its influence through artists such as Papa Wemba. Blaise La Bamba is part of this scene. He has worked with some of the top names of Congolese music, in particular General Defao. I n 2018, Blaise La Bamba founded Kotakoli , an all-star collective of musicians that perform an energetic mix of Congolese rumba and soukous . In the company of Kotakoli, this veteran musician brings Congolese popular music back to the forefront, with spellbinding dances. The Details Date: Saturday November 7th, 2021  Blaise La Bamba and Kotakoli Virtual Concert Time: 8:00 PM Tickets: Pay what you can This concert is offered to you

Review: Night of the Kings / La Nuit des Rois by Philippe Lacôte

Review:  Night of the Kings La Nuit des Rois by Philippe Lacôte A France, Côte d'Ivoire, Canada and Senegal co-production Now Playing In The New York Film Festival ImageAfter Venice and the Toronto Film Festival, Philippe Lacôte's Night of the Kings has moved on to conquer New York City.  Image Courtesy of TIFF A young pickpocket (Koné Bakary), is incarcerated in the giant La MACA prison, the largest in Côte d’Ivoire. The prison offers a hostile atmosphere, where the guards have long given up keeping order and the prisoners run the show, albeit confined within the prison walls. They dance, sing, and mingle at will in a common area called The Jungle.  There is a violent power struggle between Lord Blackbeard (Steve Tientcheu), who runs things, and the younger leaders of other factions. Blackbeard is old and infirm, and he knows he can't hold on forever. But, he does want to hold on long enough to leave on his own terms.  Image courtesy of TIFF Blackbeard designates the new

Jazzy Pop: Shihori - Soul Trip (Independent / 4 September 2020)

Jazzy Pop: Shihori - Soul Trip (Independent / 4 September 2020) New York City based singer and songwriter Shihori's new single Soul Trip is atmospheric and ambient. Interesting rhythms and interwoven melodic vocal lines showcase jazzy harmonic progressions in a slow groove mode.  As a songwriter, she uses electronic effects with impeccable musical taste. As a singer, her flexible vocals range from a sweet soprano to a strong mid-range. A veteran of the Japanese pop scene, Shihori moved to New York City in 2018, a move she talks about in a media release. "I was so surprised when I came to NY for the first time. Independent and strong women are respected and there are lots of different preferences in music and style. I thought, 'oh my God! This place really accepts uniqueness and freedom! I didn't know there is a place like this totally different world that allows you to be yourself. Everybody looks so different. So many races, colors, cultures, fashion, ideas...I am so