The Ongoing History Of New Music – The Tragically Hip: A Retrospective

I’d just landed at Pearson airport in Toronto after a long flight from the far east…as soon as we left the runway, I turned on my phone…the texts and the emails came one after another…blam: Gord Downie was dying…blam: brain cancer…something called “neuroblastoma”…blam: and the prognosis wasn’t good…the condition was terminal…one year, maybe two—five at best…

But that same news conference also announced that The Hip was going on tour again…the Man Machine Poem tour…that turned into a massive national celebration of all things Gord, all things hip, all things rock and all things Canadian…

Tens of millions of people stopped what they were doing and watched the final show that Saturday night in August…the band never said it would the “last” anything—but I think we all knew that was the case…

Then came a period of denial…sure, Gord was sick, but we were still seeing him around…a couple of interviews…his “Secret Path” documentary…showing up to receive an order of Canada…things were fine, right?…

They must have been—especially after we heard about a solo album in late September…that was a sure sign that Gord was doing well, right?…

Well, no…sessions for that album wrapped up in February…and since thing, radio silence…lots of rumours, but no news…nothing from him, his family, the band, his management or the label…

We knew it was coming, but all we could do was wait…and then on the morning of October 18, we got the news…Gord was gone…

The outpouring of affection and grief was immediate and sustained…Hip music started playing everywhere…we covered his death like other countries might cover the death of a head of state…

And as the tributes continue to pour in, I thought we’d have this look back on Gord and The Hip and what they meant to us…





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