What Is Hip? The Life and Times of The Tragically Hip [book review]

WHAT IS HIP- The Life and Times of the Tragically Hip

Canada is celebrating 150 years of being Canada and when What Is Hip? The Life and Times of The Tragically Hip came across my desk I thought it would be a nice way to celebrate. By reading books about Canada and Canadians.

Makes sense, right?

The Tragically Hip is one of those legendary stories, everyone I know has a moment where he or she discovered The Hip and many of my friends made it out to their farewell tour.

My journey began with purchasing Road Apples on cassette. What what. I may even still have it somewhere. Even thinking about it song lyrics float through my mind and I smile. What was it about The Tragically Hip that has us so captivated?

To be honest, I didn’t find out in this book. I had hoped I would, but it’s more of a Wikipedia history of the band’s career. It’s all interesting and factual but I guess I was looking for more heart. Perhaps what put me off was reading the introduction. You know, before the book started. Author Marc Shapiro goes out of his way to say he didn’t write the book to capitalize on lead singer Gord Downie dying of brain cancer. I found it strange to have to even bring it up and couldn’t shake the opposite opinion as I read the What Is Hip?

Weird, right? But because it seemed to be missing heart I found I doubted the author’s intentions, and even if he was a fan of the band. Not quite the reading experience I was hoping for.

That said, if you’re curious about the band this is an interesting biography showcasing a great Canadian story. Why not grab a copy and decide for yourself if this is a worthy tribute?


What Is Hip? The Life and Times of The Tragically Hip Synopsis

“The Tragically Hip…the soundtrack our lives.”—Justin Trudeau

On August 20th, 2016 11.7 million Canadians stood transfixed, watching the final concert of The Tragically Hip, and the rest of the world asked, “Who is this band?” New York Times Bestselling pop journalist Marc Shapiro answers that question in the first American book about this Canadian rock band that largely shunned the spotlight but has become the standard bearer of a resurgent sense of Canadian pride and patriotism. What is Hip? The Life And Times Of The Tragically Hip delves deep beneath the surface of this rock and roll story to discover how a band that spent more than three decades in the rock and roll trenches selling millions of albums and opening for the likes of The Rolling Stones, The Who and Led Zeppelin’s Page & Plant, remained almost unknown outside their home country, even as they rose to the level of rock royalty in Canada.

What Is Hip: The Life And Times Of The Tragically Hip reveals:

  • The behind the scenes story of how the band took over The Horseshoe Tavern and made it their own
  • How a high up political personality was instrumental in landing the band their manager
  • The day-to-day, often unforgiving, spirit-grinding days of life on the road in Canada

The ins and outs of opening for three of the biggest groups in the history of rock and roll The Tragically Hip are not cartoon rockers. They are real men who live by their creativity and their principles. Through extensive research and a couple of well-placed sources, author Marc Shapiro has put together a complete look at The Tragically Hip’s rise: from their humble Kingston, Ontario roots, to endless tours, to their internal struggles to keep their music fresh, to the fanatic loyalty they fostered in millions of Canadian fans. These fans shed more than a few tears when it was announced that singer Gord Downie had been diagnosed with brain cancer, and that The Hip were about to embark on what might be their final tour.

Marc Shapiro is the author of more than 75 books. His most recent releases include Trump This! The Life And Times Of Donald Trump and Hey Joe: The Unauthorized Biography Of A Rock Classic. When he is not working, which is rare, he can usually be found mowing the lawn, taking out the trash and walking the dog.

My journey began with purchasing Road Apples on cassette. What was it about The Tragically Hip that has us so captivated?