The Tragically Hip – In Violet Light (2002)
If Music @ Work was a front-loaded record, In Violet Light opted to save the best for last.
There’s still strength early on: The Darkest One is textbook Hip & It’s a Good Life if You Don’t Weaken has one of my favourite song structures of any song, period.
And as per usual, the lyrics are a major selling point. This time, they’re particularly instructional, while still being as mysterious and as lovely as Rob Baker’s In Violet Light cover painting.
While each of the first nine tracks has its merits, the last two tracks, The Dire Wolf and The Dark Canuck, are two of the band’s strongest ever.
Beginning with the ending track, The Dark Canuck, this may be the most intriguing closer in the catalogue. At 6:24, it’s also the second longest studio track in the discography. Thanks to the complete changing of gears at the 3-minute mark (in addition to the song’s general excellence), it’s my second favourite In Violet Light track.
The penultimate track, The Dire Wolf, has a whole poetic layer (inspired by Wallace Stevens’ Sea Surface Full of Clouds) that I’m likely not even close to fully appreciating. Even still, and my interpretations are undoubtedly miles from the original intent, there are a few Dire Wolf lines that really speak to me.
“Better boats been done by less water”
The perils of underestimating an opponent/a situation.
“Close to nowhere and halfway across”
A ‘no man’s land’ feeling I think I’ll have many times while attempting to complete the 1001 albums list.
“You were never more here”
By 2002, I was starting to listen to a lot of different music, priorities were starting to shift. I still loved The Hip, but it wasn’t the same ‘scribbling lyrics on my binder’ kind of unwavering devotion. However, when I hear The Dire Wolf, I’m transported back to earlier times when I was never more there. A trip that inevitably results in goosebumps for me & gratitude to The Hip for writing such a powerful song.
The Hip Tour/My Post Schedule
Aug 12 2016 The Hip plays: Toronto, ON. I play: In Between Evolution (2004)
Aug 14 2016 The Hip plays: Toronto, ON. I play: World Container (2006)
Aug 16 2016 The Hip plays: Hamilton, ON. I play: We are the Same (2009)
Aug 18 2016 The Hip plays: Ottawa, ON. I play: Now for Plan A (2012)
Aug 20 2016 The Hip plays: Kingston, ON. I play: Man Machine Poem (2016)