I remember when The Tragically Hip’s masterpiece was released. Through the music video for “Courage” I was hooked. This was a need to own album. I respected The Hip somewhat to this point but could never really get into the previous records. As “Courage” continued in heavy rotation on Much Music, I became more interested in the band and wondered if the rest of “Fully” would be as good.
It really offers a kind of passport into the Canadian landscape in some ways. “Courage” is dedicated to novelist Hugh MacLennan. I had no idea who he was so I set out reading some of his books. My admiration for Leonard Cohen was beginning around this same time. The appearance of a Leonard Cohen reference in the song “We’ll Go Too” just added some extra punch of Canadian cool to a record that fast was becoming a personal favourite.
This album really offers a passport into a historical viewpoint of Canada as seen from a free-flowing poetic perspective. Gord Downie blasts aggresive European explorations to Canada in “Looking For a Place to Happen”. In “Fifty Mission Cap” Downie mourns the disappearance and eventual finding of hockey legend Bill Barilko and the lack of a championship win for the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. “Wheat Kings” references the David Milgaard wrongful conviction case, a shadowy chapter in the history of Canadian justice.
The Hip have released some gems since this masterpiece was released. I believe nothing has come even remotely close to the greatness of Fully Completely. With the band set to start a farewell tour soon, fans can expect to be treated to renditions of the classics that comprise this album.