August 20th, 2016. The night where Canadians will remember exactly where they were for the last Tragically Hip concert. To call it a watershed moment like Paul Henderson’s goal would be unfair. Paul Henderson’s goal uplifted the country, Gord Downie singing “Grace, too” broke our collective hearts. Even though the cancer diagnosis happened in the past, it really took this concert to make the situation real.
It wasn’t supposed to end this way. The Tragically Hip were ‘the’ Canadian band. Not overly successful outside of the country, humble, polite, meaningful, and important. Full disclosure, I was always more of a Rush fan, but there I was crying over Canada’s loss in a friends back yard, listening to the music of a generation of Canada.
I loved that the hip were from a small town, I loved that the lyrics in the songs were from Canada throughout the years, and I loved the fact that the Tragically Hip were always different.
If anything August 20th, 2016 was Canada’s JFK moment. Suddenly our collective hearts were ripped out and we were left to wonder about where do you go from here. And just like JFK, Canadian’s were gathered around the country watching history being written.
Even worse, there wasn’t a person we could despise. Just a nameless, faceless disease that had taken millions before.
Thank you for the bravery, music and words Gord. Thanks for reminding us about what being Canadian really means.