I just wrote a blog post yesterday, but wanted to quickly honor Gord Downie, amazing singer and man who died yesterday from brain cancer. He cared deeply about the environment and social justice. I am not going to write about his life, just briefly what his music meant to me. I am too choked up to write much. You can read some of my other blog posts about his music and what it has meant to me when I’m out running or just sitting around partying with friends.
I had heard of Tragically Hip, his band, before I moved to Canada over a decade ago, but my husband quickly turned me onto a lot more music here and I was hooked. I began volunteering, and then working for, a non-profit, which had ties to Gord Downie. I remember one late summer afternoon, we had an event planned but at the last minute got a chance to have a table at a Gord Downie concert at one of Vancouver’s small artsy concert halls, so we split our events that evening. With a volunteer, I lugged our stuff over there, and Gord came out and thanked us after the concert. Another time, I set up a table at a Tragically Hip concert, with my husband helping me–this was an outdoor concert at Deer Lake, the same park I like to hike or run to, though the concert was on the other side of the lake. Since Gord Downie was into water quality and the environment, his work reflected that.
Other than that, my personal experiences are with the music, and these times blend together to make a memory collage. I have lots of his songs on my playlist, so when I think of Gord Downie, I see dappled sunlight coming through shaded trees and painting my face as I jog on the trail. I recall late nights at home, listening to his music with friends and talking about what this or that lyric meant. I recall one night with the fire place going and we were kinda faded and listening to “Bobcaygeon,” realizing what a beautiful song it was. I heard it again on my playlist when running atop the Cliffs of Moher, and thought of Downie’s commitments to clean water, and I looked down at the ocean and was happy people like him existed. I remember once a perfect snow had fallen, and I watched stars late at night while listening to “Fiddler’s Green”. There are just so many times and songs that hit my life hard in some way.
But my favorite song, not just by Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip, but perhaps of all time, is “Ahead by a Century”. Tonight I will raise a glass to this song, to this man, and to all the beautiful art he brought to this Earth. I want to allow myself the beat feeling I have upon hearing of his death this morning. No dress rehearsal. This is our life. And his was great.
The featured image is by Moyia Misner-Pellow from Canada – Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0