If you ‘came of age’, in Canada, during the eighties and nineties, you most certainly know The Tragically Hip. The iconic band is a part of Canada’s Pop Culture. But what you may not know is, Gord is our friend. And our hearts are breaking. When Gord, revealed his Brain Cancer Diagnoses back in December 2015, an entire country cried collective tears. This man, not only gave us poetic lyrics, he gave us a soundtrack to our lives.
The first time I heard Gord’s shriek echo into the night, I was thirteen years old. Walking the hot pavement of Expo86 with my girlfriend, a band played on a small stage in the distance. There was something unconventional about his voice, though as we came closer to the stage, it was the lyrics that mesmerized me, turning me forever into a Hip fan. “Oh, my little highway girl.” bellowed from his throat, and I fell in love.
When The Tragically Hip announced their final concert tour on May 24th, 2016, my heart grew heavy. A farewell concert only to be described as bittersweet. A man was saying goodbye to his fans, and once again a country filled with tears.
I gratefully attended the concert in Vancouver and cried from beginning to end. An emotional farewell to my friend, Gord.
But, I am not done saying goodbye. I have more to say. And I want to say it to the man who eventually became my muse.
Dear Gord, I need to thank you.
When the album, Up to hear, was released I played it on repeat. This record converted my entire summer into poetry, filled with smoky campfires and sun-bleached hair. Your lyrics filtered through the wind of my convertible each summer night. “Pale as a light bulb hanging on a wire,” wrapping around each strand of disheveled tresses.
New Orléans is sinking, became an anthem to a house filled with twenty-somethings trying to find their way in the world. Your voice, never leaving our side.
You bent words in such a magical way; your syllabus eventually became mine. Your dreamy sonnets sat with me in a dark bedroom while I endured my first heartbreak. “It’s been a long time running,” played on repeat and gave me the courage to leave the sadness of my room. Every word, I sang along with you, while tears washed my cheeks. Your music became my best friend.
A party never started without your words blaring from the stand-up speakers, situated in the corner of my tiny apartment. “It gets so sticky down here. Better butter your cue-finger up. It’s the start of another new year. Better call the newspaper up. 2.50 for a hi-ball, and buck and a half for a beer. Happy hour, happy hour. Happy hour is here.” The Canadian party anthem.
You were with me through the good and the bad. Through dancing on speakers in the club while shouting “They shot a movie once, in my hometown!” To crying over the loss of a family member while playing Scared on repeat. You were there.
I have sat and watched the stars with you by my side. Listened to the waves crash on the shore while you crooned “Angst on the planks, spittin’ from a bridge.” I held my first hand and kissed my first boy, all the while you were there, right beside me.
You, Gord, are my coming of age. You became a poetic muse and inspiration to every word I have ever placed on a page. You were the heart of my twenties and the soul of my thirties. Each beloved twang from your vocal chords is nothing short of a hug from a friend.
You held me tight when I brought my first baby home from the hospital. Wheat Kings, played on a loop, while I sat tirelessly trying to find my way as a Mother. Touching not only me, but you and your words also became the lullaby I sang to my newborn son.
For thirty years you have been a part of my life. Your music, your words, your poetry has become my soundtrack. There hasn’t been a moment in which you haven’t been there. In which your music hasn’t kissed a part of my life. You will forever have a place in my home, in my heart. Your songs will continue to play in my soul, and be a part of many new memories to come.
Gord, you are Canada, and what you have given me is a song for every moment in my life. Thank you for wrapping your songs around this Canadian girls heart.
Never goodbye, for you will always be in our hearts.