Tag Archives: Gord Downie

Gord Downie and what it means to be Canadian

I can’t even begin to try to count the good wishes and kind words since Tuesday morning and The Tragically Hip Management released a statement. Gord Downie has terminal brain cancer.  I know many of my world wide friends will not know his name or the band’s music but believe me when that announcement went live across Canada. It was like an arrow was shot into the collective hearts of a nation.

There are very few artists of any genre that capture the soul of a nation, Pierre Burton, Tom Thompson, Gordon Lightfoot captured the rough and tumble nature, angst of my father’s generation.  Leonard Cohen encapsulated the Montreal vibe and took the 70’s not just here but in the heart of the New York jungle with his verses.

To try to understand The Tragically Hip in a few paragraphs is like trying to catch smoke in your bare hands.  I don’t honesty believe that Canada has ever produced an artist quite like what he and the band are together. The often misused word synergy comes to mind, if you’ve seen them live or on youtube you’ll know what I mean.  Watching Gord Downie on stage is like watching a force of nature dipped in gasoline, set on fire after a huge bong hit and energized by his rabid Canadian fans.

But I digress how does this speak to the nature of Canadians?  Well every truly Canadian heart possesses a few key things to live on in the cold of winter and then live in perpetual exuberance in summer.  We tend to be a quiet people, not prone to flag waving, but we are tough as hell. There is a reason why Logan aka Wolverine is Canadian. We will not stop, we earned the respect in every war Canada has been dragged into by other nations. 

Canadians like Gord and The Hip have a very multifaceted soul, this country is not a Melting Pot, but rather a cultural mosaic. Very hard to get your head around at first but if you travel across the country by car or train you’ll see that every community is distinct. Some Metis French, some Quebec separatist, some Hutturite German.  Across our breadbasket, Ukrainian, Finnish, Polish. Every little town and hamlet a different community, but tied together in this huge ides called Canada.

Somehow The Hip have managed to capture the Canadian ideal, the Wheat Field Soul. The hockey rink, that first love, the desperation of a man wrongly accused.  The lyrics take Canadians home, but get us live at a Hip Show and you’ll see another animal all together. Gord riffing, ranting, begging, destroying and creating.  His off course mid song sojourn from song to song. When he’s live you never ever see the same show twice.

And that I guess is the Canadian soul, rock steady, steeped in the traditions of many cultures. The resiliency that our climate brings, it melds people together expecially in the Prarie where the winter winds can kill in minutes and then in summer we celebrate.

These things the great Canadian artists understand. The things that make every part of Canada different but also make us great. 
The power of Canada has never  been in military force, but in uniting as a people when the chips are down on last call.
I think of the Fort McMurray fire, Terry Fox and his selfless run across Canada on one leg, and now to rally behind one of our poets and song writers in his family’s moment of need.

If nothing else speaks to the Canadian soul it’s our resilience. Our sports have months long playoffs where people regularly lose teeth, sometimes get an artery cut and almost bleed to death on the hockey ice.  Football in fog, mud and the chill of a Canadian cold snap going down into -20c.
But we hardly bitch and moan.  Lest to say it’s a dry cold.

These artists really get that Canadian enui, our cold silent nature.  All the while giggling at anyone that doesn’t get us.

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Out at the Ballpark – The Tragically Hip hit a home run!

As I have described in earlier posts such as Gord Downie: Canadian Musical Psychopath, The Tragically Hip’s front man is a bit of a maniac on stage.  Being up close and personal with him at the Country of Miracles show last year gave me an appreciation for his lunacy in an intimate setting.  I had yet to witness the full blown frenetic schism that he becomes when teamed up with massive electric guitar power and the chest thumping bass drum that collectively form The Tragically Hip.

Gord aping about as The Hip take the stage

For those of you, who have not seen The Hip live, trust me this is not one of those overproduced, lip synced cookie cutter perfect types of shows.  Everything, I repeat everything is live. From Gord going wildly off topic in the middle of a song, ranting and raging about anything from sports, politics or inventing a new story on the spot.  Thursday’s performance was no different in those regards.

Gord Downie in full flight with Paul Langlois (guitar) and Johnny Fay on drums.

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Country of Miracles a Photographic Retrospective.

Since demand has been so high for more from last Thursday’s show featuring Gord Downie and The Country of Miracles, I thought it fitting to just shut up and let some of the pictures I took do the talking for a change.

Enjoy.

 

In Line Before the Show

 

 

In Line

 

 

The Marquee

 

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Gord Downie: Canadian Musical Legend.

For anyone who is a fan of The Tragically Hip the title of this post should come as no surprise.  For the rest of you, sit back as I try to capture the spirit of a Canadian poet, songwriter, musician, wise man and raving lunatic.

 

Gord Downie (Photo – Robert Ogden)

 

I had the great fortune of being offered a ticket to see Gord Downie and his new band The Country of Miracles last night in concert.  For the record I am a fan of The Tragically Hip and have been so since I first heard the song Little Bones, off the Road Apples album in the early 90’s.  The catchy lyrics and rocking beat lead me to other tracks such as 50 Mission CapNew Orleans is Sinking

 

Gord Downie Singing a Duet with Julie Doiron. (Photo – Robert Ogden)

 

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