As he travels through the North, Wilson gets beneath the political surface to portray both the tragedy and comedy of everyday life in the Protestant and Catholic communities. Aware of the polarized image that each side has of the other, he emphasizes the importance of finding common ground and of asserting the middle against the extremes. Just as traditional Irish music is characterized by ornamentations and elaborations on a melodic theme, Ireland, a Bicycle, and a Tin Whistle is full of variations and wanderings on the theme of the trip itself. And just as traditional Irish musicians will follow a sad slow air with a lively foot-tapping reel, Wilson's mood ranges from the nostalgic and reflective to the irreverent and mischievous. If there is a lament in one ear, there is a song in the other.