On August 12th 2016 The Tragically Hip performed their final live concert in Toronto, Ontario. But it was just 4 short months ago, in October 2017, that Gord Downie himself gave in to cancer and Canada lost one of its father figures.
2017 was rough to the music industry, losing icons like David Bowie and Rock God Malcolm Young, to name but a very stark few. Though none hit Canadians harder than the loss of the figurehead and frontman of The Tragically Hip. For those in their late thirties and forties, the Hip had been a mainstay of their lives. You could hardly walk into a storefront or an elevator or anywhere that had music playing casually and not eventually hear a Tragically Hip song.
It wasn’t just Canadian Content Laws that drove the Hip into our hearts and minds… but the passion and eloquence of Gordon Downie himself. He would often get right to the heart of the matter and even myself, who is admittedly not the world’s largest Tragically Hip fan, had been touched by Downie.
Whether it was a memory set off by an olfactory sense, or in a friend’s car, hearing a song on the radio that I had heard in ’97, again and again, and again, driven into the ground so much that I swore to God I’d never listen to that song again by choice… yet there I am suddenly remembering Mom eating cold cuts at a picnic, or drinking beer with friends at a bush party wearing Do martins and a pair of overalls.
Now, some 20 years later with Gord Downie gone, watching the final song of the final concert, seeing the reactions across Canada and the passionate screams of a man knowing he was in the final throes a wonderful Life, well lived and full of rich experiences. During those screams, I too lived my life, from that moment all the way back 20 years to working as a grocery store clerk with the Hip coming over the speakers every half hour. Wishing back then it would go away… and wishing right now it could always stay… and secure in the knowledge that I’d never have it any other way.