You have entered the centre of the second edition of Stay Trve. I and we would like to thank you for being here. You may recall me mentioning previously that the particular effect for this column wasn’t necessarily to wow you with cutting-edge analysis, but rather to point the spotlight towards recordings and topics that may have discovered their media lifecycle acutely topical, non-existent, come to a grinding halt, or other. – Cotton
In the past, I have more often than not discussed artists and works that are of a Canadian origin. This piece is an extension of that ideology.
Many of you will likely recall certain musical fixtures in your life which were intrinsically related to the region to which you were born and raised. For example, the youngster from Australia likely cut their pubescent teeth on the likes of Ac/dc and Midnight Oil, whereas the teenager from Arkansas may have spent their first high school dance to the soundtrack of The Red Hot Chili Peppers. For those of us from Canada, the band that ingrained themselves as livelihood ambassadors were Kingston, Ontario’s The Tragically Hip.
The Tragically Hip formed among the academia and chilling weather on the campus of Queen’s University in 1983. Like so many bands, The Hip cut their teeth playing other artist’s songs. The band took their act on the road and played any stage that would have them. With a combination of charismatic artistry, hard work, and luck, 13 albums later the band have sold 8 million copies of their recordings. Although the band never became a household name anywhere else, they carved a remarkable niche in their homeland with their topical, often whimsical, and frequently, regional, songwriting.
On May 2016 news broke that the band’s frontman Gord Downie had been battling an incurable type of brain cancer: Glioblastoma. Mr Downie chose to remain in the public eye despite his health. Numerous news outlets have indicated that Downie couldn’t remember a single lyric to the countless songs he had written. This did not keep the band from embarking on a 12 date farewell tour. The final date of the tour was aired uninterrupted by the Canadian Broadcast Corporation to an unprecedented 11 million Canadians. In mid-performance, Downie chose to address the Prime Minister of Canada. The dialogue focused on the issues that have faced Canada’s indigenous persons going for centuries now. It has been quite some time since such an awareness and light has been shone on these issues and in such a raw and direct manner. Downie’s demands for reconciliation created a flurry of activity from the Canadian government at both the Provincial and Federal level.
Suddenly and backing breakingly sad, Downie passed away from his illness on Wednesday, October 17th, 2017. His passing has caused a stir in the nation that is seldom seen. In light of his passing the documentary about the Tragically Hip’s final tour “Long Time Running” will be broadcast across the nation at 8pm on CTV, Friday October 20th. The film was directed by Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas Pencier.
The following is a statement from Gordon Edgar Downie’s family:
Last night Gord quietly passed away with his beloved children and family close by.
Gord knew this day was coming – his response was to spend this precious time as he always had – making music, making memories and expressing deep gratitude to his family and friends for a life well lived, often sealing it with a kiss… on the lips.
Gord said he had lived many lives. As a musician, he lived “the life” for over 30 years, lucky to do most of it with his high school buddies. At home, he worked just as tirelessly at being a good father, son, brother, husband and friend. No one worked harder on every part of their life than Gord. No one.
We would like to thank all the kind folks at KGH and Sunnybrook, Gord’s bandmates, management team, friends and fans. Thank you for all the help and support over the past two years.
Thank you, everyone, for all the respect, admiration and love you have given Gord throughout the years – those tender offerings touched his heart and he takes them with him now as he walks among the stars.
Love you forever Gord.
The Downie Family