Music In My Life, Gord Downie & Memories!

Waking up at the start of a short week is tough enough, but hearing the news that Gord Downie from The Tragically Hip has cancer makes it tougher.

He has brain cancer, and it’s terminal. What a kick in the gut that news is!

We hear news like this all too often, but when it’s somebody in the spotlight that has giving you so many happy memories, it really stings.

Gord and his bandmates hit the bar scene in 1983 in Ontario, Canada and the rest is history. They never hit it big in the U.S. although they did play once on Saturday Night Live. I’m not sure if they really cared about the U.S limelight though. Because for well over 30 years, they have been Canada’s band. No matter the city, no matter the venue, no matter the weather, Gord and the rest of the guys, always brought it, every freakin’ night.

Three things stood out for me about Gord Downie when I heard this news.

  1. His lyrics have left a lasting impression on me. I’m not sure if I can recite as many lyrics of any of my favourite bands as I can with the Tragically Hip.
  2. His on stage performances, long rants included. Gord has a tendency to go off-topic on long rants during songs which became his signature. They were always entertaining, sometime a little drawn out, but that is him.
  3. His passion for what he does. His energy, positive enthusiasm, and LOVE for his fans has always been something that I took note off.

I have so many memories of great shows. Who could forget the annual summer festival “Another Roadside Attraction“?

  • The Winnipeg Stadium shows were amazing!
  • The Assiniboia Downs show was just as fun!
  • The Winnipeg Arena Shows – Epic!
  • Rexall Place shows in Edmonton – A blast!
  • Camrose Stage 13 Festival – Almost blew away in a wind storm but Gord still rocked!

On an 8 hour bus ride for our high school grad trip in 1991, some classmates kept playing the Tragically Hip “Road Apples” album over and over again. I was so sick of it. But after I returned home, and reevaluated my disdain for the band, I quickly changed my mind and was all in. I’m still not sure what flicked the switch and made me a super fan!

I travelled to Australia in 1998. Whenever the Tragically Hip music came on, it was a “Canadian Bonding Moment“. I can vividly remember several occasions when we, the backpacking Canadians, hit the dance floor and sang their anthems word for word.

Several Australians asked me during my trip, “Who is that?” They are awesome!

I actually dubbed (recorded) a cassette tape (yes it was 1998) for a boss of mine who wanted my “Hip Mix” while on that trip.

Here are some of my favourite lyrics from Gord Downie:

At The Hundredth Meridian

If I die of vanity, promise me, promise me
If they bury me some place I don’t want to be
You’ll dig me up and transport me, unceremoniously
Away from the swollen city breeze, garbage bag trees
Whispers of disease and the acts of enormity
And lower me slowly and sadly and properly
Get Ry Cooder to sing my eulogy

At the hundredth meridian (hundredth meridian)
At the hundredth meridian (you’re going to miss me)
At the hundredth meridian (trust me)
Where the great plains begin (at the hundredth meridian)
At the hundredth meridian (at the hundredth meridian)
At the hundredth meridian (baby, you’re going to miss me)
At the hundredth meridian (trust me)
Where the great plains begin

Wheat Kings

Sundown in the Paris of the prairies
Wheat kings have all treasures buried
And all you hear are the rusty breezes
Pushing around the weathervane Jesus

In his Zippo lighter he sees the killer’s face
Maybe it’s someone standing in a killer’s place
Twenty years for nothing, well, that’s nothing new
Besides, no one’s interested in something you didn’t do

Wheat kings and pretty things
Let’s just see what the morning brings

Cordelia

Angst on the planks, spitting from a bridge
Just to see how far down it really is
Robbing a bank, jumping from a train
Old antiques a man alone can entertain

It takes all your power
To prove that you don’t care
I’m not Cordelia
I will not be there
I will not be there
I will not be there

Courage

There’s no simple
Explanation
For anything important
Any of us do
And, yeah, the human
Tragedy
Consists in
The necessity
Of living with
The consequences
Under pressure
Under pressure

Courage, my word
It didn’t come, it doesn’t matter

It feels strange even trying to put a business spin on this, but humour me for a moment.

 

 

There are not a lot of celebrities that go by just one name in Canada, but I would venture a guess that most people between the ages of 24 and 55 would know who “Gord” or “Gordie” is.

I can’t imagine what Gord is going through right now, but I hope he feels some comfort that he has the love of a nation behind him. It’s amazing to me, that he’s planning on doing one final tour for some combination of himself, the band, his family and the fans. Or maybe it’s for everyone 🙂

It’s going to be incredible, and I CANNOT wait to see it!

 

 

Click this link to the announcement of his illness:

Thanks Gord! For everything!

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