This morning Canada woke to news of a nation without Gord Downie, tonight our hearts fly at half mast.
Tears ran down Justin Trudeau’s face as he said goodbye to “Canada’s friend”. Speaking not as politician, but a man who understood and shared the collective sorrow of a nation.
Others can write biographical paragraphs detailing Tragically Hip front man Gord Downie’s life. Tonight, all I can do is watch and listen to an undeniable presence in Canadian music history. Starting softly with Ahead By A Century, then Bobcaygeon –
Eventually finding my way to Tragically Hip performing Grace, Too at Woodstock 1999. Love it, hate it, get it or don’t – know this clip epitomizes Gord Downie – poet, performer, unabashed storyteller, improvisational wizard, musical savant and embodiment of Canadian grace. Tonight Gord Downie walks among the stars, his constellation will shine for eternity.
From Shambhala 2017, images captured by my husband at the annual music festival near Salmo B.C. Explore and enlarge at – https://www.flickr.com/photos/15574096@N00/
Couldn’t nail down when or why it started, all I know is for well over a decade I’ve texted Billie Jean to my daughter every time it plays at a wedding. Sorry Michael, may your tortured soul rest in peace but Billie Jean is a stupid song. Nevertheless and without exception, Billie Jean has played at every wedding since the ritual started.
I know a thing or two about weddings, they’ve paid my bills for 30 years. How many since Billie Jean texts began is tough to say, truth is I can’t even remember how many this summer, a conservative estimate might be 200 Billie Jeans. Each text represents 10-12 hours of sweat and toil sprinkled with shenanigans and drama worthy of screenplays.
The magnitude of Billie Jean was lost until quite recently, muddied by focus and work load it never crossed my mind Billie Jean represented a brief respite. Billie Jean texts mean dinner is over, coffee and dessert served, cake cut, kitchen staff cleaning up, truck being loaded and a push to strip tables. Billie Jean lets me breath. Only 3-4 hours to go, time to crack the whip, think about signing out staff, write a few words of my report.
Every so often I mention to staff Billie Jean plays at every wedding.They don’t believe me. Just wait I say, Billie Jean hasn’t let me down yet. If I were a smarty pants I’d blither it used to be Lady In Red or Red Red Wine, all that would do is age me. For the record, Uptown Funk is poised to become the next Billie Jean.
This evening’s commute began as any other. Far from remarkable, CBC Radio sang background vocals – traffic, weather, Trump, Trump, Trump. Then I heard “this is the official end of the world song”, instantly adrenaline consumed an otherwise mediocre drive.
Official end of the world song? WTF! Says who? Shut up! This was news two years ago and I’m only hearing about it now!
From an article in The Guardian –
The video had passed into CNN lore by the time Mike Ballaban, now an editor with Jalopnik, worked as an intern at the network in 2009. As rumor had it, the billionaire founder of CNN, Ted Turner, a man as known for his eccentricities as for his wealth and media legacy, had called for the preparation of a video to air in the event of nuclear holocaust.
The legend has circulated for decades, boosted by Turner’s own words in June 1980, when he said, “We’re gonna go on air June 1, and we’re gonna stay on until the end of the world. When that time comes, we’ll cover it, play Nearer My God to Thee and sign off.”
Rumor has it musicians aboard the Titanic played Nearer My God To Thee as she sank . When CBC played Ted Turner’s chosen rendition I couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry. Have mercy- when the world ends play anything but a brass band nearer to God dirge.
News of 82 year old Leonard Cohen’s death found me driving home from work, they played Hallelujah and I cried. Home compelled So Long Marianne to fill the room. Not youthful or studio Marianne, I needed proof of Marianne in Cohen’s sinew. I found it in a live performance from 2012.
Cohen’s effortless spell rippled through the room. I saw an ageless man, a man whose beautiful presence transcended the shell of his being. Swaying melodically to the cadence of his unabashed existence, I whispered goodnight.
Waking to an imaginary unplugged serenade of 54 40 Baby Ran proved I had a day off work. Playing gently in my mind, I stretched and went back to sleep. After ten straight days of screaming alarm clocks I was free. In truth freedom began the night before when I rushed home from work to shower and change for the 54 40 concert. Since the 1986 release of Baby Ran, 54 40 has played background vocals in my life. Attending a know every word to every song concert was exceptional. Capping it with an unplugged banjo plucking rendition of Baby Ran made me forget how tired I was.
Not once did I look at my phone or care what time it was. Much as I like my job, Baby Ran reminded me how important time off is.