Gord Downie 1964-2017
October 18, 2017 7:10 AM   Subscribe

Promise me, promise me,
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, sadly and properly
Get Ry Cooder to sing my eulogy

Gord Downie, lead singer of the Tragically Hip, has died.
posted by GuyZero (159 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
posted by fimbulvetr at 7:11 AM on October 18

posted by davebush at 7:11 AM on October 18

posted by everybody had matching towels at 7:13 AM on October 18

posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:17 AM on October 18 [1 favorite]

posted by jkaczor at 7:18 AM on October 18

I've been refreshing Metafilter, waiting for this post. I just. Wanted to be with others, even if virtually. We knew this was coming, but I still hoped it would be much later. The man was a genius. And I don't say that lightly.

Thanks, Gord.

posted by aclevername at 7:19 AM on October 18 [17 favorites]

posted by Fizz at 7:19 AM on October 18

It's the news I've been waiting for but dreading.

RIP Gord. You are an icon for a reason and I'm sorry you're gone so soon. The Hip were the soundtrack of my young adulthood and I will always have a soft spot in my heart for you.

posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:22 AM on October 18 [5 favorites]

"We don't go anywhere. Just on trips. We haven't seen a thing, we still don't know where it is."
posted by Fizz at 7:22 AM on October 18 [1 favorite]

As you can imagine, here in Downie's hometown, the outpouring of grief is immense.

The Hip never made it down South where I'm originally from, and I still didn't listen to them much when I moved to Canada in 2009, but they were Canada's Band. They encompassed every hoser with a two-four to self-styled intellectuals. The Hip could unite anyone. For me, I loved that night last August where my city become the epicenter of a country for a handful of hours. Where the streets were filled with fans, every business had their patios full and playing the Hip, where you walked down normally quiet neighbourhoods but that night, people had their windows thrown open and were playing that concert. It was magical. I was in Market Square for a moment--just to hear "Fifty Mission Cap" as their opener--and it was really beautiful.

So thanks for that, Gord.

posted by Kitteh at 7:24 AM on October 18 [25 favorites]

My FB feed is nothing but this this morning. Like, more completely this than when Bowie or Prince died. The jokey line about "One nation under Gord" has never seemed more true or more sadly false at the same time.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:24 AM on October 18 [10 favorites]

posted by wires at 7:25 AM on October 18 [5 favorites]

posted by FritoKAL at 7:25 AM on October 18

Safe journey, Gord.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:27 AM on October 18 [1 favorite]

. he won't travel long alone
posted by Poldo at 7:37 AM on October 18

posted by Snowflake at 7:38 AM on October 18

For those who don't know The Hip or who just want to hear a tribute, The Strombo Show did a 4-hour tribute to the band at the beginning of the year. (although the playlist sadly doesn't include At The Hundredth Meridian)
posted by GuyZero at 7:39 AM on October 18 [3 favorites]

posted by synecdoche at 7:40 AM on October 18

posted by hydrobatidae at 7:40 AM on October 18

Total class act all the way. Grateful I had the chance to see the show last year and say goodbye.

posted by crazycanuck at 7:41 AM on October 18

posted by nubs at 7:41 AM on October 18

posted by halation at 7:46 AM on October 18

Was lucky enough to see the farewell tour last year with a few people who didn't yet know the Hip. Immediately after, everyone counted it as one of, if not the best live show of their lives (and it was incredibly powerful), so I guess I'm happy to have opened the world to Gord's work, just a bit.

We're all Canadian today.
posted by rokusan at 7:46 AM on October 18 [3 favorites]

Was dragged to the Omaha stop of the Fully Completely tour in 93. I didn’t want to give them a chance because the band name made me think they were a joke band (and joke bands leave me cold). I went and was simply blown back. It was transfixing. It was very much like a bar band punching above their weight and taking it some place artier, like you always hear about R.E.M.’s earliest years.
And of course there was Gord, playing the 500-cap bar with the dynamic sweep of an arena show and the intimacy of a poetry open mic. I’d never seen anything like it and became a fan that night.
We’d see them again in the same venue two years later on the Day For Night tour at the same venue on the cusp of an American breakout that it’s probably for the best never really materialized. In a mid-90s cluttered with mediocre bands going double-platinum and becoming the kind of inescapable that breeds contempt, The Hip were mercifully left (for us down here anyway) as a cool kind of secret, massive elsewhere, but more manageably “ours” to fans here. In fact that night, the band (minus Downie) piled into my Renault and came to our apartment and played UNO with my roommates while waiting for weed from our downstairs dealer.
Over the 20 years since there were more shows, more albums, more transcendent moments. And endless flurry of creativity from the band and Gord himself, working as a solo artist and working class poet and advocate. They never seemed to not have something on. And that is part of what makes this death sting so much: they were always around, making art in a realible clip that makes it easy to take for granted. Gord’s terminal cancer diagnosis was a shock to say the least but the toughest thing about it is feeling that light go out. He was an absolute one of a kind artist, essential to several generations’ conception of the last few decades’ culture and I feel fortunate to have met him at several stops along the way.
RIP Gord Downie
posted by Senor Cardgage at 7:47 AM on October 18 [31 favorites]

posted by Laura in Canada at 7:47 AM on October 18

posted by LobsterMitten at 7:50 AM on October 18


I spent a week with Gord and his family about ten years ago as part of their vacation entourage and they were the most humble, kind and wonderful group of people. Gord talked and treated you like you were a friend no matter how long you knew him or what your role in his life was. He was remarkable and we are all better for his presence on this earth.
posted by notorious medium at 7:51 AM on October 18 [7 favorites]

posted by bshort at 7:53 AM on October 18

posted by glaucon at 7:55 AM on October 18

Just saw the Prime Minister crying on the news. I feel you, Justin.
posted by aclevername at 7:57 AM on October 18 [15 favorites]

This is so sad. Rest in peace, Gord.
posted by h00py at 7:58 AM on October 18

Some of my close friends and I were lucky enough to make a pilgrimage to Ottawa for the second-last show of The Tragically Hip's last tour.

As I left that concert, I posted that:

"They should have sent a poet. But I guess they did - the sent Gord Downie"

And now, they took him back. Godspeed, Gord.
posted by Paladin1138 at 8:00 AM on October 18 [2 favorites]

My heart hurts. He was a very special person.
posted by one of these days at 8:03 AM on October 18

posted by thenormshow at 8:13 AM on October 18

Damn. The knowing it was coming really doesn’t make it any less sad. I thought most of the sad happened last year and then it sort of seemed like, well maybe it won’t actually happen..a Canada without him doesn’t really seem possible. Damn.
He really just seemed like such a great guy.

posted by chococat at 8:20 AM on October 18 [2 favorites]

Saw them as an opening act on a bigger tour years ago. Unfortunately never saw them play again.

posted by caution live frogs at 8:22 AM on October 18

posted by meowf at 8:22 AM on October 18

I saw The Hip a couple of times early in their career...1989 or 1990, in very small venues. And they were always a bar band to me. I remained a huge fan through their arena tour years, but I never saw them in any of those big concerts. I'm glad I didn't, because I only have memories of standing front row, six feet away from the band, and I cherish those memories and those performances.

Godspeed, Gord. See you down the road.
posted by rocket88 at 8:23 AM on October 18 [5 favorites]

Now I was in a lifeboat designed for ten and ten only,
Anything that systematic would get you hated.
It's not a deal not a test nor a love of something fated.
posted by furtive at 8:27 AM on October 18 [3 favorites]

What a loss, but what a gracious and amazing person to share his gifts with the fans as long as he could.

I hope to catch this documentary sometime.
posted by TwoStride at 8:27 AM on October 18

I'm hearing that if you walk down Princess right now, a lot of the local businesses have thrown open their doors and are playing the Hip.
posted by Kitteh at 8:31 AM on October 18 [11 favorites]


posted by theorique at 8:34 AM on October 18

I am very sad about this. I am also deeply respectful about the way he approached and dealt with his illness. And I am really impressed by his bandmates, who stuck with him through it all.

posted by disclaimer at 8:34 AM on October 18 [1 favorite]

posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:35 AM on October 18

posted by Kabanos at 8:38 AM on October 18


Gord Downie spent the last years of his life championing First Nations reconciliation, social justice, and Chanie Wenjack's story in Canada. Supporting this seems to be a fitting way to remember him: https://www.downiewenjack.ca/
posted by orbit-3 at 8:39 AM on October 18 [18 favorites]

This is the first time I've ever heard the news of a celebrity passing and just started to cry. I don't even consider myself much of a Hip fan, really. But Gord defined us.

posted by 256 at 8:41 AM on October 18 [2 favorites]

CBC Radio One - Q's whole show was on Gord, and their website has some remembrances. I expect there will be more coverage over the day.

Thanks, Gord.

posted by Artful Codger at 8:44 AM on October 18 [2 favorites]

I'm putting in some headphones, taking the rest of the afternoon off, and going for a long walk around Montreal listening to the Hip now.
posted by 256 at 8:45 AM on October 18 [1 favorite]

I'm surprised to find myself absolutely bawling my eyes out at this news. I was never a huge fan; up here, beng a fan of the Hip is like being a fan of air. Here I am, gasping.

posted by Sys Rq at 8:45 AM on October 18 [9 favorites]

I'm home sick from work, sitting on the couch, sobbing. Fiddler's Green, from the farewell show.

posted by Homeboy Trouble at 8:51 AM on October 18

There were lots of different ways he could have played the final year or so of his life. It says a hell of a lot about him as a human being that he chose to use the news of his illness, the farewell tour, and the attendant attention it would bring as a platform for this:

We are not the country we thought we were. History will be re-written. We are all accountable, but this begins in the late 1800s and goes to 1996. “White” Canada knew – on somebody’s purpose – nothing about this. We weren’t taught it; it was hardly ever mentioned.

All of those Governments, and all of those Churches, for all of those years, misused themselves. They hurt many children. They broke up many families. They erased entire communities. It will take seven generations to fix this. Seven. Seven is not arbitrary. This is far from over. Things up north have never been harder. Canada is not Canada. We are not the country we think we are.

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:51 AM on October 18 [43 favorites]

posted by haruspicina at 9:01 AM on October 18

posted by jim in austin at 9:02 AM on October 18

posted by droplet at 9:07 AM on October 18

posted by dannyboybell at 9:07 AM on October 18

posted by chapps at 9:09 AM on October 18

I've loved what I've heard, and though I never really knew much of the band, the first two songs I ever played at a show on bass were Hip songs, New Orleans is Sinking and Three Pistols. (Yes, the band was headed up by a Canadian). I tried to learn Long Time Coming, but just could never get it down. Great songs, and I wish I'd gotten around to listening to more before he passed.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:10 AM on October 18

posted by MILNEWSca at 9:10 AM on October 18

I just switched over to Q107 (classic rock FM in Toronto) and they're apparently going to play nothing but the Hip today, til about 6 PM EDT. They stream from that website too.

Just fyi.
posted by Artful Codger at 9:12 AM on October 18 [3 favorites]

There's a bit of pervasive received wisdom about the Hip that they were "big in Canada but failed in the U.S." that I always find myself pushing back against.

It's rooted in the notion that they weren't as relatively big in the U.S. as they were in Canada. And to be as "culturally big" in the U.S. as they were in Canada, they'd have to be, like, REM at their peak, or U2, or Springsteen. Which they clearly weren't.

But they did just fine in the U.S. They sold out mid-size venues and toured successfully and made money and had loads of fans. They were as successful as your Cakes and Old 97s and Soul Coughings.

And obviously they expended more energy in Canada because they were goddamn rock gods here and only "successful" south of the border.

But they never "failed" in the States. They performed at a level that any full-time musician would be proud of. They just didn't achieve the kind of cultural penetration down there as they did up here, which kind of reads as failure relatively speaking, and generated this unfortunate and untrue perception of them being "trapped in Canada."
posted by Shepherd at 9:13 AM on October 18 [28 favorites]

posted by Malingering Hector at 9:15 AM on October 18

posted by kilo hertz at 9:21 AM on October 18

posted by Caduceus at 9:23 AM on October 18

After a long spell of not listening to them, I had The Hip playing on the iPod on my way home from work last night. Weird.

posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:25 AM on October 18

posted by Cash4Lead at 9:30 AM on October 18

posted by Flashman at 9:30 AM on October 18

posted by Calzephyr at 9:33 AM on October 18

But they did just fine in the U.S. They sold out mid-size venues and toured successfully and made money and had loads of fans. They were as successful as your Cakes and Old 97s and Soul Coughings.

i saw them not long ago at The Fillmore in San Francisco. The place was wall-to-wall Canadians and a handful of significant others who got dragged along. They played lots of shows in Buffalo and upstate NY which were, of course, largely Canadian audiences. They did indeed do fine in the US but it was, in no small part, Canadians who were eager to see them at a venue smaller than the ACC.
posted by GuyZero at 9:36 AM on October 18 [7 favorites]

posted by Mitheral at 9:39 AM on October 18

They were a cult band and the cult was an entire country.
posted by davebush at 9:42 AM on October 18 [19 favorites]

I saw Blue Rodeo in the basement of a bar in St. Louis the same year I saw Blue Rodeo from the lawn at the Molson Amphitheater. And they were part of a festival line-up in St. Louis, so most of the people who were there weren't even there to see them. It is beyond weird to see an iconic Canadian band that can put tens of thousands of butts in seats (or not-seats, in the case of the Molson Amphitheater) in Toronto in front of a crowd that mostly doesn't even know who they are. Weird, but cool.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:42 AM on October 18 [2 favorites]

posted by mikelieman at 9:48 AM on October 18

I always felt the Hip just loved Canada more than anywhere else.

Unlike say Bryan Adams, Shania Twain, Celine Dion or a whole host of other Canadian musicians who moved south to increase their fame and fortune.
posted by srboisvert at 9:51 AM on October 18 [3 favorites]

Crying today. So grateful for Gord and all that he brought to my life, and to the rest of the world. "We live to survive our paradoxes"
posted by stevil at 9:53 AM on October 18 [1 favorite]

While I don't think they would have minded if they had broken big in the US, I'm also of the opinion that Canadian artists/musicians shouldn't think they have to break the US in order to be legit. They're plenty legit up here on their own and there's no shame in being loved by your home country. It just reinforces an unwarranted cultural complex.
posted by Kitteh at 9:55 AM on October 18 [10 favorites]

srboisvert: I always felt the Hip just loved Canada more than anywhere else.

I don't begrudge the Canadian acts, like the ones you name, who went south to get big. Some people want to be big stars, and have the combination of talent and drive to get there.

I think Gord and the Hip just wanted to make music... and were just pleased to be up there, creating, performing, interacting with other artists, and being able to make a living at it.

Not every artist thinks that success is when you have more hired dancers onstage than band members.
posted by Artful Codger at 10:00 AM on October 18

posted by From Bklyn at 10:00 AM on October 18

In other words, one of the best things about moving to Canada for me has been learning about CanCon. I have discovered so many amazing bands I would never heard of if I had remained in the US. The Hip and their country's love of them (and vice versa) was a perfect example of that.

I know it's from their most recent album, but if I had to pick a Hip song I really really like, it's this one.
posted by Kitteh at 10:02 AM on October 18 [2 favorites]

I'm a few kilometers in now on my Hip pilgrimage from my home to the peak of Mont Royal. Phantom Power just came on and I'm reliving the moment that I fell in love with the Hip. The album came out when I was in high school and, at the time, all I listened to was punk rock.

Even though my friends told me that Phantom Power was great I was reluctant to believe them. I was familiar with Hip songs of course, but I thought of them as being music for my parents' generation. I just couldn't imagine that they were still relevant. Then I started hearing Poets on the radio and had to admit it was phenomenal. Then I heard Bobcaygeon. Then Fireworks.

I bought the album.
posted by 256 at 10:04 AM on October 18 [5 favorites]

posted by Sphinx at 10:04 AM on October 18

On that note, why the hell is Phantom Power the only Hip record unavailable to stream?
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:05 AM on October 18


I will be Opiated for days. I love you Gord. Thank you, thank you!
posted by riverlife at 10:09 AM on October 18

The Hip's connection to David Milgaard.
posted by Mitheral at 10:22 AM on October 18

An interactive tour of The Tragically Hip's Canada.

Quite nicely done, especially for those who might only be passingly familiar with the songs and subjects.
posted by GuyZero at 10:24 AM on October 18 [6 favorites]

Also, a shout-out to those who understand why Gord sings "Moonbeam, Ontari-ari-o" the way he does.
posted by GuyZero at 10:27 AM on October 18 [11 favorites]

My dudes, I just saw the clip of our PM tearing up while talking about Gord's passing. Aw, man. Ouch.
posted by Kitteh at 10:31 AM on October 18 [8 favorites]

My dudes, I just saw the clip of our PM tearing up while talking about Gord's passing.

It goes without saying.... but for the love of Gord, don't read the comments on that video.
posted by Paladin1138 at 10:36 AM on October 18 [3 favorites]

posted by allthinky at 10:41 AM on October 18

posted by suetanvil at 10:44 AM on October 18

I'm from western New York, right across the river from Ontario. We listened to Canadian radio, mostly because it was much more interesting than our own, and so the Hip came to be in our bones. They were much, much more than a band, and Gord much more than a singer. I can't stop crying.
posted by sensate at 10:53 AM on October 18 [4 favorites]

Oh, and Gord did give us the song we need to process his passing. It's My Music at Work.
posted by 256 at 10:53 AM on October 18 [6 favorites]

I was never really a big fan of the Hip beyond the nostalgic highschool favourites, but I'm probably going to cry along to Coke Machine Glow tonight, which is one hell of a gutpunch of an album.

posted by avocet at 10:57 AM on October 18

posted by spinifex23 at 11:29 AM on October 18

posted by SonInLawOfSam at 11:32 AM on October 18

posted by ghharr at 11:42 AM on October 18

That Beaverton article about the nation needing Gord Downie's songwriting to understand Gord Downie's death is very true.

Death and dying was a huge part of Downie's lyrical focus over the years and, if you forgive the self-link, I did a blog post about this aspect of his songwriting soon after his diagnosis was announced.

(If I've missed any, feel free to post them as a comment.)
posted by Jaybo at 11:47 AM on October 18

Gord did give us the song we need to process his passing.

That's one reason the Hip/Gord were so important to me: he sang expressively, emotionally about stuff that wasn't just what a boy or a girl thought about a girl or a boy. He taught me it was ok to be wistful at work about a lover, even if you do have a job, an important job that you're not sure you love, for one example*. Which believe it or not, found resonance in me at the time and still kind of does.

He sang a lot about these big complex things where a single simple emotion wasn't enough, and that it was implicitly ok to feel that way.

I'm of the right age: the Hip are a college bar band for me too. I grew up in more than one way with the Hip to thank for it. I'll miss his voice.

*Incidentally, Rich Terfry just mentioned on his tribute over the lunch hour that Bobcaygeon is about two men, not, as the video would have it a conventional man-woman relationship. That just adds a bit more depth to it really.
posted by bonehead at 11:54 AM on October 18 [4 favorites]

for a Hip song to process his passing, my vote would go to Wheat Kings

And you can't be fond of living in the past,
'Cause if you are then there's no way that you're gonna last
Wheat kings and pretty things
Let's just see what tomorrow brings

posted by mannequito at 11:54 AM on October 18 [7 favorites]

When I heard the news this morning, I couldn't even bring myself to look on the front page because I knew it would knock me down.
posted by The World Famous at 11:55 AM on October 18 [1 favorite]

Also, why can't I find the Last Recluse video online anywhere? Did I dream it and it was never real?
posted by The World Famous at 11:59 AM on October 18

I just passed a busker singing a French language cover of New Orleans is sinking
posted by 256 at 11:59 AM on October 18 [2 favorites]

When I was a lot younger, deeply immersed in indie music and punk rock, I paid scant attention to The Hip when they came out. However, when I first saw the video for Locked In The Trunk Of A Car, something clicked. Downie's extraodinary phrasing, matching the evocative lyrics, and the propelling band behind him marked them as a lot more interesting than I first thought and I am grateful for paying attention.

So yes, thank you Mr Gord Downie for what you put out into the world.

posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 12:04 PM on October 18 [2 favorites]

If you're in the Kingston area, there will be a 7 pm vigil in Market Square near the Tragically Hip brick. The Mayor is bringing a memory book for folks to sign if they're interested.
posted by Kitteh at 12:12 PM on October 18 [2 favorites]

I only saw The Tragically Hip once live in concert. It was 1986-87, and me and some high school friends crashed a Queens University concert where the Hip were opening for David Wilcox. I knew fuck-all about the band except that they were from Kingston, and as everyone know growing up at that time in the city, nothing cool ever came from Kingston.

The band played hard and looked like they were having fun. And dammit, these guys were COOL! For a snotty Kingston townie in the mid-eighties, it was a revelation.

R.I.P. Gord. You were one of a kind.
posted by spoobnooble II: electric bugaboo at 12:17 PM on October 18 [2 favorites]

No dress rehearsal; this is our life.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:24 PM on October 18 [3 favorites]

I don't know how invested Gord was in that particular lyric, but I do hope somebody gets Ry Cooder to sing his eulogy.

RIP Gord
posted by wabbittwax at 12:29 PM on October 18 [2 favorites]

And Falstaff sings a sorrowful refrain
For a boy in Fiddler's Green

posted by pyramid termite at 12:36 PM on October 18

My favourite memory is being about about six rows back from the stage in a huge, sold out arena and they were playing New Orleans Is Sinking. At the bridge they moved seamlessly to Nautical Disaster, played that in full (it brought me to tears) and then moved just as seamlessly back to New Orleans to finish off the song. But it wasn't just that. It was the fans knowing the music so well that everyone, everyone, started singing the right lyrics right along with Gord when they moved back to New Orleans.

I had my hands in the river
My feet back up on the banks
Looked up to the Lord above
And said "hey man thanks"

Thanks for everything, Gord. You'll not be forgotten.
posted by twilightlost at 12:59 PM on October 18 [6 favorites]

I saw them perform at Memorial Stadium in St. John's in July 1995 when they were touring Day for Night. Eric's Trip and Rheostatics opened. It was a magical Canadian night. It was the only concert I have ever been at where everybody went. I mean EVERYBODY. Jocks, punks, preps, nerds, skullys, or whatever other labels we were throwing at each other in high school. They united people in so many ways and I'm glad I got to grow up with them.

RIP Gord.
posted by futureisunwritten at 1:10 PM on October 18 [2 favorites]

From that Beaverton article: "At press time the nation planned to honour Gord by listening to even more Tragically Hip then they would have on an average day."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:11 PM on October 18 [7 favorites]

I cannot read this thread because I am at work.
I am totally allowed to read this thread at work.
I cannot read this thread because I am at work.

posted by Cosine at 1:17 PM on October 18 [3 favorites]

I only saw them once live but it's a pretty unique show to remember them by. I think the story went that they had a few days between shows in Vancouver and Calgary and found out that it was a provincial holiday (BC Day, first wknd of August) and scheduled a last minute show at the park in downtown Kelowna. I was a few hours away working a summer job in the Kootenays and my gf at the time heard from her sister in Kelowna who had a bunch of tickets, so we drove up right after work, partied our 19 yr old faces off, and came back the next morning for work epically hungover. Unfortunately that means I don't have many clear memories from the show, but I don't imagine many there that night do. Felt like the whole city was going off. They played a bit of their newer material but seemed to know that this was just a giant outdoor summer party and stuck mainly with the greatest hits. One of my few clear memories was Gord stagediving during the encore performance of Little Bones.

Hadn't thought of that show in awhile. Just went to take a look if there was any footage of it on YT but, no go. I did find the set list for it, and it's as good as I remember.
posted by mannequito at 1:29 PM on October 18 [1 favorite]

Truly the author to the soundtrack of my life.

Maybe we don't have Gord anymore, but at least we have his music.
posted by Phreesh at 1:35 PM on October 18

posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:37 PM on October 18

Even though I'm from Toronto, I was never really a Hip fan (although I've always loved New Orleans Is Sinking). But the way Gord and his family and his band handled this whole thing really reminded me of the very, very best things about Canada.

He was a singular and very talented person, only a few years older than me, and that's way, way too young to die. But he did all this with grace and a staggeringly enormous generosity of spirit.

I had absolutely nothing to do with Gord or the Hip, I don't think I ever even bought one of their albums, and so I really didn't do anything at all to deserve to feel "proud" about anything other than a happenstance of sharing a nationality. But Gord made me proud to be a Canadian over the last couple of years. He did good.
posted by biscotti at 2:02 PM on October 18 [7 favorites]

From his New York Times obituary:

"The place of honor that Mr. Downie occupies in Canada’s national imagination has no parallel in the United States. Imagine Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Michael Stipe combined into one sensitive, oblique poet-philosopher, and you’re getting close. The Tragically Hip’s music “helped us understand each other, while capturing the complexity and vastness of the place we call home,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement on Wednesday. “Our identity and culture are richer because of his music, which was always raw and honest — like Gord himself.”"
posted by GuyZero at 2:03 PM on October 18 [6 favorites]


Love you, man. Peace.
posted by hoodrich at 2:21 PM on October 18 [1 favorite]

(Lemire illustrated Secret Path)
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:35 PM on October 18 [1 favorite]

posted by ecourbanist at 3:06 PM on October 18

Our friend Ben, who grew up here in Kingston and remembers seeing the Hip in grade school, just posted a lovely pic of him taking his little girl to the vigil downtown and signing the memorial book. Ben is a local morning DJ here and the news broke while he was on the air. He said it was the only time he started to break down on the air.
posted by Kitteh at 3:11 PM on October 18 [1 favorite]

I'm in Kingston helping a relative with the kids for a little bit. I was dropping one off at school and overheard one of the grade 4 kids tell all his friend that Gord had died and they were all 'that sucks and bummer'. I got bummed myself but then thought how cool is it that a band that meant so much to me in my younger days means enough to a bunch of elementary aged kids that it's news at school.

My little cousin said that they announced it in his class and the teacher played Hip songs all day. I'd go to vigil but I'm hopped up on cold medicine and its safer for everyone if I stay still. Gonna just lie here and listen to some great music.

Thank you Gord. So many good memories.

posted by Jalliah at 3:33 PM on October 18 [4 favorites]

At my four year old daughter's day care they sang Hip songs all day today and, when I tried to talk to the teacher about his death at the end of the day, she just wouldn't even engage because she said that she was still processing it and didn't have any coherent thoughts yet. And she's an immigrant.
posted by 256 at 3:59 PM on October 18 [7 favorites]

posted by kneecapped at 4:19 PM on October 18

I keep thinking of a song off In Violet Light, A Beautiful Thing.
posted by Grimgrin at 4:43 PM on October 18

The keyboard player from Blue Rodeo called in to Radio 1 today to tell a story about how Gord was around backstage and told him how great a job he thought he was doing. He was genuinely touched. He said at the last encore ("Lost Together") the Sadies and Gord were brought out, and Gord didn't do anything for a while, just sat on the stage. As they went into the organ solo, they realized he had started singing a wordless harmony to this ranging collection of notes. Each member of the band dropped out until it was just his voice. Would have loved to be at that show.
posted by transient at 4:48 PM on October 18 [1 favorite]

posted by MelanieL at 5:26 PM on October 18

Like biscotti I respect how he handled his final year and I really like that he drew attention to abuses of our indigenous peoples. Still bugs me (as I'm sure it did him) that as per usual it took a white person to get white people more aware of indigenous causes.
posted by biggreenplant at 5:26 PM on October 18 [4 favorites]

Sorry I can't go on with this

And that's awfull close
But that's not why
I'm so hard done by
posted by zenon at 5:32 PM on October 18 [3 favorites]

posted by flyingfox at 6:19 PM on October 18

posted by bonobothegreat at 7:06 PM on October 18 [1 favorite]

Get Ry Cooder to sing my eulogy

If you're going to listen to the song that the post text is from, might as well make it this version. The bit starts at 2m in. (TW: murder?)

I save lots of money but I lose lots of sleep
out here where the property is so cheap.

Count the contradictions.
posted by anthill at 7:33 PM on October 18

The evening DJ on the radio was holding it together pretty well, but the little catches in her voice broke my heart.

posted by figurant at 7:34 PM on October 18

One of the most Canadian things is how conscientious we are about broadcasted swears, and yet what a free pass we gave to Gord Downie. He used fuck and shit all the time in his lyrics and nobody ever censored them. I remember when Fireworks came out and "don't give a fuck about hockey" was all over the airwaves and nobody cared.
posted by 256 at 8:05 PM on October 18 [1 favorite]

So I was sad to hear this news because my brother-in-law died of glioblastoma and I wouldn't wish that on anyone, but I thought I didn't know any Tragically Hip songs. Then I started poking around YouTube and realized I had heard a bunch of their songs on the radio over the years but never knew who they were performed by. Now this really sucks.
posted by mogget at 8:08 PM on October 18 [2 favorites]

I finished high school and started university in the early 90s in southern Ontario and the Hip was one of those bands that became a really important part of those years for me. I drifted away as a fan in the later years but those early albums and songs I know like the back of my hand. When I heard the news about his illness last year, it really knocked me for a loop.

It’s my birthday today and I have been working through some out of sorts feelings about work and life and stuff in the context of getting another year older and being in my 40s. When my friend texted with the news while I was at an all day staff meeting offsite at a remote location this morning, I was bummed. Like most, I’ve been expecting to hear this news for a while. A bunch of us at the meeting chatted casually about it and I thought I was mostly fine. I listened to the CBC special as I was driving home from the airport and when Bobcaygeon came on I completely lost it. The Hip was one of those bands that is just so perfectly associated with a particular time and set of experiences in my life that Gord finally going is like truly saying goodbye to those years and it’s tough.

Bye, Gord.
posted by Cyrie at 8:35 PM on October 18 [7 favorites]

posted by oneironaut at 8:58 PM on October 18

posted by mephisjo at 9:58 PM on October 18

Sarah Polley's cover of Courage from The Sweet Hereafter really brings the week's shitty news together for me,

So 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,
Courage, it couldn't come at a worse time.

posted by Rumple at 10:14 PM on October 18 [2 favorites]

posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:42 AM on October 19

Growing up, I never had the money to go see The Hip in person but I always imagined what it would have been like. I would have been in the very back row of the Northlands Coliseum and Gord would have been about two inches tall.

Years later, I found myself in California and the they were playing up at the Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco. Needless to say, all of the Canadians at work (a little under half the company) trouped up there to see them. To this day, that was the most magical concert of my life. There I was, stuffed right up against the stage dodging Gord's projectile sweat as he tore it up.

Years later, I sat in my living room, a few thousand kilometers away, steaming his final concert with tears in my eyes. So far away from where I longed to be but chatting online with friends around the world.

And then today, I tuned to the CBC on my way back from lunch when they announced a tribute to Gord Downie. Don't panic, I thought, it's probably just a retrospective. Still, I couldn't bring myself to hit the CBC website just in case.
posted by flyingfox at 1:12 AM on October 19 [6 favorites]

💋kiss on the lips beautiful man.
posted by oh posey at 1:31 AM on October 19

posted by Joey Michaels at 4:30 AM on October 19

posted by filtergik at 5:04 AM on October 19

I never met Gord but we do have one 6 degrees friend in common. I asked that friend, years ago, what sort of person Gord is, he replied after some thought

"I just cannot imagine who else would have to be in a room for all eyes not to be on Gord".

posted by Cosine at 9:08 AM on October 19 [6 favorites]


a terrible thing. A terrible thing.
posted by Fraxas at 1:52 PM on October 19

minor correction: the Double Suicide Rant version of Highway Girl linked above is not, in fact, the source of the 'if I die of vanity promise me...' verse. That comes from 100th Meridian.
posted by Fraxas at 1:56 PM on October 19

We bought our house in Kingston in 1999. The realtor said "one of the guys from the Tragically Hip lives right across the street!" I remember laughing out loud at the very idea and thought this was a totally lame feature pitch from a 60ish female Brit realtor who couldn't possibly have a clue.

Except here's the thing. One of the Tragically Hip lived right across the street. The bass player, Gord Sinclair, and his family lived right across the street from us for 9 years until we moved away. I never met him but referred to him generally as "Emergency Back Up Gord". I'd watch him bringing in take-out pizza or pulling his kids up and down the street in a wagon wearing a black leather jacket with a cig dangling from his lower lip.

As far as I could suss out Rob Baker, lead guitar, lived a couple of blocks away, or at least I used to see him sitting on the same front porch quite frequently in nice weather as I was pushing one of the kids around in a stroller. And I saw Johnny Fay the drummer downtown a few times. Never saw Gord Downie or Paul Langlois, although I heard Gord a couple of times from a distance when they'd do pop up shows during blues fest.

To my eternal regret I only ever saw them live once, at a canada day music fest at molson park quite early in their career (maybe 91). They were the closer and it was FANTASTIC.

My strongest personal connection is probably to "Fully Completely"; I had a co op term in winter 93 in a very remote Manitoba location and for a handful of reasons I was depressed as hell. I had a tape copy of FC that I think I ripped from my roomate's gf and it more or less kept my sanity intact; I am pretty sure I listened to it multiple times a day for 4 months straight. Every. Damn. Song. Was. The. Greatest. Song. (except locked in the trunk of a car, which wore the crown).
So, like so many of us today, I am thoughtful and sad and feeling connected to a great many folks. I know we are all playing the favorites in heavy rotation.

Thanks Gord (and emergency backup Gord, and Rob, Paul, Johnny).
posted by hearthpig at 5:12 PM on October 19 [8 favorites]

posted by pb at 8:41 AM on October 20

posted by dazed_one at 9:59 AM on October 20

posted by rhizome at 12:32 PM on October 20

posted by northtwilight at 3:07 PM on October 21


I started high school in the early 90s in Southern Ontario. I was not a huge fan at the time, but The Hip were just in the air; all of my memories of that era are soaked in their music. Much later I saw them in concert, about 15 years ago. And Gord just blew me away. I wouldn't even call it a performance; what he did on stage was on a completely different plane. It was like he was a conduit to something greater and more primal and transcendent -- and it was the most remarkable thing to witness. We are blessed to have had him with us.
posted by emeiji at 2:31 PM on October 22 [2 favorites]

It's been a few days; busy days. I've started a new job (and moved most of the way acrosss a continent) after being unemployed for more than a year. Today is the first day I have had a moment to contemplate just how much Gord's lyrics have underwritten so much of my life; the good and the bad.

With an afternoon off I'm going to queue up some favorites and waggle a mournful banana.

posted by mce at 9:01 AM on October 26 [1 favorite]


It has been most of a month... and I still can't put into words the impact of this. For me, a dot in this case wasn't enough... and so I avoided it.

I watched the final concert, and I knew that it was not going to be as long as people were wishing... but...
I am glad that I was able to hear his music in my lifetime. There are very few bands that spoke to me the way that the hip did.
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:01 PM on November 16 [2 favorites]

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