As the sun sets in the Western night sky on October 18, 2017, a silent hush descends upon a nation in mourning. It was a day we all knew would inevitably come to pass, but prayed that it wouldn’t; a day none of us could’ve done anything to prepare ourselves for.
Though last year’s final tour was concluded in Kingston, Ontario with an uninterrupted live broadcast of the final concert across the country, we all somehow collectively knew it was the last tour for The Tragically Hip and their frontman Gord Downie. He didn’t want it to be labeled that way, though, calling it a celebration instead. Many tears had been shed during each of the stops along the tour, and today, it was tears of losing a family member, and the numbness that followed along with it.
As with most Canadians, I awoke this October morning to hear the news of Canada’s beloved musical poet, Gord Downie’s passing at the age of 53 from brain cancer. Another musical legend had fallen silent. The local radio station CJAY 92 played tribute to Gord throughout the morning show with many of The Tragically Hip’s top hits. It felt surreal, to be listening to another musician whose voice is so unique and unmistakable, yet their gift will live on beyond this day. As I listened, I started paying more attention to the lyrics rather than the instruments playing. In one of the interviews paying tribute to Gord, it was said with such eloquence in regards to Gord’s love for Canada,
“He wrote love letters to Canada. He wrote about us, he wrote to us, and he wrote for us.”
As Fiddler’s Green came on the air, it was this song where I was fighting to choke back my own tears. The acoustic guitar, Gord’s voice, the ambiance of the song; it seemed to just be the perfect way of knowing Gord Downie himself is now in Fiddler’s Green. He was indeed, in a peaceful place.
If there can be any message left behind by Gord it would be this: Find something or someone and love it with every fiber of your being. Be it your family, your friends, your passion, or a cause you’re passionate about to make the world a better place, love it with everything you’ve got because THAT’S how much Gord loved Canada.
Every time I hear a Tragically Hip song, I’ll look up to the Gord above and say, ‘hey man, thanks’. Your presence is missed by an entire country who loved you as much as you loved the country. Godspeed, good sir, and Rest In Peace.