This week, I’m guest blogging for the Canadian Music Centre. It’s the third in a series of blogs where I ...
1. I only own one Tragically Hip album – Up to Here, released in 1989. It was the Hip’s debut album. I was in high school working part-time at a music store in Ottawa. CHEZ 106 radio was pumping out the rock through the speakers at the store. Downie’s voice was infectious, the band was tight. Many tunes from that album were played over and over.
2. My favourite Hip song is Bobcaygeon. It grasps what most of us feel at times…the everyday can suck, but a sanctuary away from the everyday can help big time. The lyrics are poignant. The chord changes tied to those melodic phrases give the feeling of build, yet maintains this subtle melancholy throughout.
3. The Hip created a distinguishable Canadian rock sound (with all due respect to my fave band, Rush). I usually hate nationalistic stuff but it’s hard to deny that they were Canada’s band. Americans never could get the Hip. I think that’s why we love them that much more.
4. I never saw The Tragically Hip play live…wish I had.
5. I did however see Gord Downie play live. It was somewhere around 5-10 years ago at the Steamwhistle Brewery in Toronto. It was an invite-only event organized by Bullfrog Power, a Canadian green energy provider. I was invited to play some background piano music as attendees milled about. Gord of course was the main attraction. I think he only sang his own solo material with an acoustic guitar. He arrived from the back door, played an amazing short set, then left by the same back door right after. No one had a chance to say hello or hang out with him. I suspect he was a shy guy.
6. I really admired how Gord used his fame and creative output to bring attention to many important causes, especially the plight of Canada’s First Nations people and the environment. If all artists did as much as he did, the world would be changing a lot quicker for the good.
7. Gord loved hockey. So do I…enough said.
8. The last chapter of his life has got me wondering…do I want to know when it will be all over or do I want it to happen suddenly? Based on how Gord handled knowing, I’d want to know the date. It could be a joyful time filled with just the activities that make me happy and fulfilled. But then again, shouldn’t everyday be like that?
9. The man could sing!! He could sound sweet, rough around the edges, angry, growly…he’s without a doubt one of the great frontmen of any rock band in history. What makes him special to me though is there was never a need to be overly flamboyant, yet he still had an awesome presence.
10. He was just a regular guy from Kingston, Ontario who loved what he did. We loved him back…and we’re lucky to have had that experience.