Thinking about our courageous beautiful friend who lived so fully, yes completely, dedicating the time he had to love, to art, and to justice. So many moments when we felt Gord Downie so powerfully. The music yes - always and ever - but also the activism.
Imagine the clarity and heart it took for him on that last concert date in Kingston - when the tumour had progressed to the point where he was using a prompter to help him with lyrics - and yet spoke directly from the stage to the Prime Minister on behalf of First Peoples, urging him to ‘Get ‘er done’ and address Canada’s mistreatment.
I so admire that The Tragically Hip used their powers for good. I remember The Hip playing a massive War Child free concert event at The Forks in Winnipeg, but we were having trouble with donations. Gord said – “I got this” and simply told the crowd to ‘Put the money in the cup’ and they did. He gave his heart to Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, performing and curating talent for the galas, narrating the films.
He cared about this country, about us. Once during a live I&I at Much he was asked by a fan what was the greatest misconception about Canada, and he answered, ‘That we’re not patriotic’, then he stood grinning as the audience spontaneously sang ‘Oh Canada’ back to him. When he wrote about us – “Bobcaygeon” or “Wheat Kings” or “Fireworks” - he helped us to find our cultural swagger, while encouraging us to do better.
We knew his time was short, but it doesn’t make it easier. I would pop him a note now and then to see how he was, and he always signed off with something sweet, like ‘You always make me smile’ or ‘I love you’, which always made me cry. I'm glad he knew we loved him.
Sending peace and strength to Rob and Paul, Gord and Johnny, to Gord’s family, to colleagues and his legions of friends. May we all find some joy in the music and may his legacy encourage us to be better.
Rest peacefully dear one.