I kept hoping for a miracle cure. Knowing the Tragically Hip bought stocks in a medicinal marijuana company, my thought was Gord Downie’s brain cancer was being treated and defeated by THC oil and he would surprise us all by coming out the other side, alive.
Sadly, yesterday morning, my Facebook feed was already blowing up with news of his passing by the time I logged in with my first coffee in hand. What a shitty week – first Lahey and now Gord Downie… Sue Tyler texted me happy I was covering for her, saying she didn’t think she could handle the sadness of it all… I figured I’d come in here like a champ, and very precisely and professionally honor Downie. Nope. I have looked at the computer screen through tears repeatedly.
My first experience with the Hip wasn’t one – I missed their brief studio visit in 1989 at K-97 Edmonton, because I was in the bathroom with stomach issues.
Flash forward a decade to Woodstock 99 in Rome, New York, where after witnessing a quarter-million people fill the grounds in front of the big stage for the HIP I had the chance to interview the band afterwards. It was pretty much all business, in a giant room full of media, with no time to sit down and really get to know them.
The band has always been charitably generous: they always signed numerous items for our children’s auction at the Bear in Edmonton. Gord always liked to write something clever, as if he was always writing lyrics.
For example, one of the few signed Tragically Hip items I kept over the years is a goalie stick reading “This stick kills fascists. Gord Downie.” Not for sale.