I have never been a die-hard Tragically Hip fan. I don’t own every album and I don’t know the lyrics to every song – but I know the sound of Gord Downie’s’s voice in my sleep.
The Hip have been around for almost my entire life – I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know them. I don’t remember a time when they didn’t bring out a fierce sense of Canadian pride in me. And I will never forget how they offered infinite comfort when I moved to the US.
I have always been a musical person, someone who remembers moments in life by the soundtrack playing. When I felt homesick I would play Canadian music that I couldn’t hear on the radio in Maryland – Bif Naked, Metric, Jakalope, Treble Charger, Blue Rodeo, Spirit of the West…and the Tragically Hip. Wheat Kings had the magical ability to remind me of home and bring me out of the funk. Blaring it while dancing around the house would transport me right back to school dances, parties, clubs, and of course summer road trips and camp fires.
Coming back to visit I would throw on a Canadian radio station as soon as we were within range. Inevitably a Hip song would play, and at that moment I would truly know that I was home.
This is a sad weekend for Canada, as we bid farewell to men who have been such a large part of our lives for the last 30 years. Tomorrow I will be watching the final Hip show. My parents will be watching the final Hip show. My grandmother will be watching the final Hip show. Tomorrow we will see a nation come together to celebrate and honour a great artist and man. This weekend in particular I am glad to be back home, celebrating Gord with the rest of my homeland.
My American husband doesn’t understand. Sure he has come to recognize a few of the more popular Hip songs, but they are not a part of him. Tomorrow as he sits with his Canadian family and watches more than one of us shed a tear, I hope that he comes to understand a little bit more about what it means to be Canadian, and to be a part of such an emotional night in the life of our nation. Hopefully he will also understand if I load up the one month and two year olds to drive an hour and watch the show in the closest park broadcasting it live.
Thank you Gord for being a part of the soundtrack of my life.