It’s been a week now since Gord Downie, lead singer of The Tragically Hip, passed away.  The outpouring of emotion from all across Canada, it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before in my life. In fact it was so big, it was so grand,  that three days in, I half expected Gord to show up on the National and announce another tour.

17 years ago I got a call from Gord Downie. Still one of the greatest phone calls I’ve ever gotten in my life. It was a very short call. He was recording a song and he wanted to know if he was saying the name of a town in Newfoundland, that he put in a lyric, the way a Newfoundlander would say it. Isle aux Morts. I said, yes that sounds right to me. Isle aux Morts. But if you want a second opinion you can always call my Dad. And I gave him the number. Then I forgot all about it.  

A week later Dad says your friend Gord called. He wanted to know all about the time I took you and your brother camping near Isle aux Morts and we went fishing there; and he wanted to know all about the time I worked with the Department of Fisheries on the salmon rivers in central Newfoundland; and he wanted to know all about growing up in Bay Roberts. Seems like a great guy, we talked for about an hour. I said, Dad do you have any idea who that was? That’s Gord Downie, he’s the lead singer of Canada’s greatest rock and roll band. He’s one of our greatest songwriters. And Dad said, really? He never mentioned he was in a band, he just said it was Gord from Kingston.

Six months later, I walk into my parents’ place and on the coffee table, there’s this beautiful print of a bird next to a lake. I’m like Dad this is the artwork from the new Tragically Hip album. He said, really? I didn’t know that, your friend Gord sent it to me. And it was an original silk screened print.

I didn’t know Gord Downie that well but I’m gonna miss him like I knew him very well. We all will. Because as an artist he spoke to each one of us directly. And he could do that because he listened to people like my Dad.

Posted: 25/10/2017 9:25:04 AM | with 0 comments

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