I know you aren’t supposed to remember anything from when you were two, but my sister remembers this moment, and maybe I remember it through her, but we both remember the first time we saw my mom cry. My dad brought her the Sunday Sun in bed, and we had both had a nightmare, so we were sleeping beside her. John Lennon had died, and my mom cried. We knew at that time, that music was something special.
Today, I’m not heart-broken, I’m angry.
I’m angry that in everything we do, we still can’t find a cure for the C word.
I wanted Gord to fight for cancer. I wanted him to have a voice for the millions of people that suffer and want hope. But, he knew, before we all did what his fight would be. He fought for Canada. For it’s history and its people.
He didn’t have to. It’s obvious what he loved, nature, constellations, great planes, stories of history, but I think more than anything, he loved his band. We don’t often talk about this..Gord Downie the front man, but it was his band that gave him the perfect back drop, the perfect progressions and the most subtle riffs that allowed him to shine. In any other situation, things may have been different. And today, I feel the loss of the entire band.
For all of you that don’t know the hip, it’s more than two-fold. It’s three dimensional or four. It’s the songs you can sing and remember forever, it’s the way it makes you feel when you go to the cottage, or look at a lake. It’s the lyrics and the melodies, But it’s also watching him. He’s my dancer. He’s the way everyone wishes they could be, confident, not rehearsed or planned, spontaneous and free.
I loved Gord. I still do. I have loved him since I was 16. And as a radio personality I have had the opportunity of a life-time to take a child hood idol, a super huge crush, and turn that into actually a friendship. The shitty thing about this and media and the crap that goes along with it, is that I had to write this before the end. I texted him periodically to ask him how he was doing, and he’d text something elusive, funny even weird. His last text to me was, I’m sorry Josie, but the plane is going down. I don’t know what upset me more about that…the fact that he felt sorry for me, as I guess so many dying people do, or the fact that his imagery was so simple.
If you don’t know the hip, it’s time. He hit my generation in a wave. I have never gone to a concert, that remotely came close to the energy of a hip show. And the fans were part of it. You were part of it. We all were. It was a movement that I’m not sure will exist again. It wasn’t divided, or genre driven. It was what we all did. For my friends in Pickering, I could cry with you all today, but I told myself I couldn’t..I wouldn’t. Couldn’t come at a worse time. I saw how the band hit my beer drinking, small town pub guy friends; I saw how it hit my music loving mother, my four die hard in love with Gord friends, my super smart sister, even the tag alongs who didn’t love music..I saw how it moved them. This is not a day for I loved the hip better than you. This is a day to realise how many of us love Gord.
If I were to write a list where to start. I’d say Courage, because you need it to listen to the hip. Then Long time running, Hundredth meridian, New Orleans is sinking, Music at work, Poets, …..fill in the blank.
As a Canadian, I need you to know the hip. As a music lover, it is my mandatory.
The images are so clear to me. Watch the band through a bunch of dancers. The truth is so clear. There’s no simple explanation for anything important any of us do. The most clear lines of life, under the simplest of chords.
I will never forget his smile, or his charm. I will never forget my interviews with him, when I said my intro that I thought of for weeks..” in broadcasting school they told me to never say I’m a fan, but I am your number one fan”. And he said, ” I didn’t go to broadcasting school, but I am also a fan” . He knew how to make poetry out of every moment. He knew how to make words so alive and I hope I have made it clear if not before, but now, that he was my number one.
I am only sure of one thing. I know if there’s a cure for cancer, all cancers, Gord will be behind it 100% from the other end. He didn’t let us down. He showed us all how to live.
This show will be a celebration…. We should talk about what Gord meant to Canadians, what he meant to his fans and his bandmates but I want to talk about him as a person. What is this world gonna be like without the great Gord Downie.