This past Saturday one third of all Canadians witnessed the final performance by Tragically Hip from their hometown of Kingston, Ontario. 11.7 million people gathered in bars, hockey arenas, town squares, restaurants, back yards and living rooms, tipping hats to front man Gord Downie and the Hip.Saturday morning Toronto police tweeted “Dear world, please be advised that Canada will be closed tonight at 8:30 pm. Have a #Tragically Hip Day”. From the Yukon to Newfoundland, Saturday August 20, 2016 will go down in Canadian history as Tragically Hip day.
Who the Hip are is easy, what they are is harder to define. Constant from bar stools to sold out arenas, Gord Downie’s iconic voice navigated the Hip to a place of knowing familiarity – when a Hip song played it felt like slipping into bedroom slippers, troubles waned, we were home. Canadian to the core, Tragically Hip never sought headlines or spotlight. Musicians, poets, balladeers captained by “Canadian poet laureate” Downie. Three decades of unabashed Canadian expression delivered with respectful unapologetic grace. In May of this year a news conference reported Gord Downie had terminal brain cancer, followed by dates of a farewell tour before Downie succumbed to aggressive terminal illness. Listen to Ahead By A Century then Bobcaygeon. Youtube Nautical Disaster, Google Rolling Stone Top 10 Tragically Hip Songs, explore the interactive link below from CBC, read this article by Rachel Sklar at Vox –
I find myself pondering how many Canadians have “I saw the constellations reveal themselves one star at a time” tattooed on their arm. (Line from Bobcaygeon below)
Gord Downie August 20, 2016
Those outside Canada, people unfamiliar with the Hip might not fathom why a third of our nation gathered to hear Gord Downie’s final live performance. Why Justin Trudeau took in the concert wearing a Hip T-shirt,Tweeting –
Gord Downie is a true original who has been writing Canada’s soundtrack for more than 30 years. #Courage
Kingston, Ontario – live broadcast for those without show tickets.
Tragically Hip permeate our lives, Gord Downie casts a spell of fortifying unity. This will be remembered as summer of the Hip. Following a three hour, three encore performance in Kingston Gord Downie said “thank you for that” before walking off the stage. Make no mistake, Canada thanks you Mr. Downie.