“No dress rehearsal, this is our life” – Gord Downie

Where to even begin…

October 17th marks one year since the tragic loss of Gord Downie, a singer, a poet, an activist, and an inspiration.

I think the best way to preface this post, is by noting how much sadness even I have felt over the loss of Gord – and those feelings are only amplified knowing that my Dad, many of his closest friends, and much of Canada got to experience Gord for much longer than I ever did. To them, it can only be worse.

In an NPR piece by Talia Schlanger after Gord’s passing a year ago, she states, “On a day like this, it’s difficult to put into words what Gord Downie means to me. But what will stand in my memory forever is the way he made the people around him want to be better, together. Gord united Canada’s most grizzled hockey fans and sensitive poets. He wasn’t afraid to go to the darkest parts of history, or sing of the smallest towns. He wasn’t afraid to play in front of millions of people when he was battling brain cancer. He was courage, personified, until his dying day. And I want to say how much I will miss knowing we share a planet with him.”

I could never put into a single post the laundry list of amazing things Gord has done, the greatest lyrics he ever wrote, nor could I even begin to share the number of memories I have managed to gather in my short life, or even this last year, of listening to the hyper-local phenomenon of The Tragically Hip.

The only note I would like to share specifically, is the youngest time I can remember appreciating the music Gord composed – since the age of 5 (fact check me there, Dad, I know you read these), in car rides to and from hockey practice, my dad and I would listen to 107.7 The Lake (indisputably, the greatest radio station of all time, maybe they’ll get their own post someday). Each time we’d flip it on, in an instant, I would get the dreaded question, “Name the band…”

Now I have a solid understanding of music – don’t get me wrong – it’s just that Dad is a music savant. All it takes is one note from the intro to a live concert 35 years ago –and he knows who, where, when, and what song the band played next. At 5,6,10,22 years old, I have, and will always struggle when hit with the car ride pop-quiz.

The one band I could always rely on, however, was The Tragically Hip. There was a certain threshold of head bobbing and reciting of lyrics my father would cross where I knew it had to be the Hip. They were just too good.

For those memories, and for the last year of frequent listening, a cure for any sour mood, and for the amazing cover-band show I can see with my dad around Buffalo from time to time, and for everything else…Thanks, Gord – my family, and many more out there, miss you dearly.

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