[Music] Road Apples – The Tragically Hip (1991)

Collaboration post! Sarca from Caught Me Gaming and Kevin from Buried On Mars take on The Tragically Hip, Canada’s National band! Each week, we will travel through the history of releases by The Tragically Hip, going through EVERYTHING they’ve ever released in audio and video form – studio album, live show, video releases. So don’t forget to check out Kevin’s blog too!

Need to catch up? Previously:

Road Apples, the Tragically Hip’s third studio release, is one of several of their albums I associate with having strong emotions. Every time I listen to this, I take the same trip down memory lane – ultimately a nice trip, with a few “road apples”. It’s a rocking good time for the most part, while there are a couple of the tunes that honestly make me tear up. How can this album get me rocking, but also have me grabbing the kleenex?

I hadn’t acquired my CD copy of Road Apples until years after its initial release. However, the album’s songs were not a stranger to me by a long shot. Go to any bar or restaurant in Canada, and you’d likely hear something from Road Apples play over the stereo whilst dining. It is also a great commuter soundtrack: my copy has been a frequent companion over the years, as I journey daily to and from work. Road Apples, musically, is just easy rock. No fancy footwork. But, listen to the lyrics: that’s were the magic is.

Road Apples starts with that familiar guitar riff from Little Bones. We are then thrust into an upbeat rock tune with lyrics that are fully prepared for bar room games and stale beer. Without a break from the rock, Twist My Arm has us tapping our feet, but the lyrics give a hint of Canadian politeness with its “After you, no after me, no I insist please, after me!”

Cordelia, third song on the album, is the top ten single that never was. It’s a gorgeous rock tune, that introduces itself warmly, then kicks the door in; its title immediately reminiscent of King Lear’s forever devoted daughter, but then Gord makes clear that he is “…not Cordelia, I’ll not be there”. One of my Hip favourites.

Road Apples is full of rockers that never made it to radio, but are still greats: Fight, Bring It All Back, and On the Verge all kick butt. I would be remiss if I failed to mention Budweiser’s theme song that never was, Born in the Water… Just kidding! The way that song starts always reminded me of old late 80s – early 90s beer commercials. The mellow tune, The Luxury, and the short and sweet The Last of the Unplucked Gems slow things down respectfully.

Let’s talk about emotional “grab the box of tissues” songs on Road ApplesLong Time Running is a slow dance… and I feel sad listening to it. My heart hurts reading the lyrics back and knowing Gord Downie is no longer with us. The Hip have since used the title Long Time Running in their 2017 documentary release of their last concert tour. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house when the Hip performed it for the last time…Then we have the quiet biographical Fiddler’s Green about a baby boy who died. I can’t help but choke up listening to it. What can I say, I’m a sensitive soul…

Lastly, let’s talk about my pinnacle tune from Road Apples: Three Pistols. The eighth track on the album happens to be one of a handful that I would consider “soundtrack of my life” songs… like, “play this at my funeral” songs. This is one of ’em, and it’s my favourite song on the record. Gord’s strong vocals are gorgeous here (maybe his best?). And me having a lifelong love of art (and formal education in Fine Art) the lyrics regarding Tom Thomson, Canadian painter who drowned before he could ever be considered part of the Group of Seven “paddling by” is an image that sticks with me. It also has one of the best quotable lines:

"I say, bring on the brand new renaissance, 
'cause I think I'm ready. 
And I've been shaking all night long, 
but my hands are steady..." 

Bring it on indeed.

Overall Road Apples is a fantastic and well-rounded rock record that wouldn’t disappoint by any stretch. No “road apples” here!

5/5
Road Apples
Tragically Hip
1991

Thanks for reading! Now head over to Kevin’s blog for his take!

13 comments

  1. Great read, and album two has Gord in fine form. Amazing how quickly he could shift gears lyrically on this album while the band is riding shot gun with him. One thing I have to add is the stellar live feel production that Don Smith brought to the first two Hip album’s. This album is easily in my all time Top 20!
    Great stuff Sarca and this week I’m leaving my Hip story at Kev’s site…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Awww, I love how sentimental this album is to you. It is definitely possible to have an album with rocking tunes, but also tunes that make you cry your eyes out. Sorry to hear Gord Downie isn’t alive anymore, as I just researched he was the lead singer for The Tragically Hip.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. A brain tumor? Awww that’s so sad. Curse glioblastoma! I had a brain tumor and they had to take it out when I was two. So to hear that people lost their lives due to a brain tumor is heartbreaking to know now everyone survives.

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  3. Excellent stuff. Wasn’t the first of their albums that I heard, but I was saying over at Kevin’s place that this was the one where I got why you Canadalanders liked The Hip so much. Filled with great tunes, lyrics, and a groove.

    Anyhoo, lifting what I said at Kevin’s: “I have a fondness for Bring It All Back. Twist My Arm if a favourite… Gord has all the swagger of a Canadian Jagger… and good shout about the Doorsyness of The Luxury. Very Riders… Long Time Running always hit me like a Keef Richards number. Especially those he done with the Stones. Even the blues licks… and I really like The Last of the Unplugged Gems as a closer. Perfect, man.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. King Lear is likely my favourite Shakespeare – having a great teacher that year helped of course, and it didn’t hurt that the mean sisters Goneril & Regan shortened to GNR and that I learned that’s where Cordelia was from!
    It’s fun seeing the Road Apples art again after the release of Saskadelphia – regardless of the same, like you said, no ‘road apples’ here, just keepers!

    Like

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