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Canada Mourns The End Of Gord Downie’s Shining Lyrics

Gord Downie bows out at 53. Although his death was imminent, it didn’t make his death any less painful. Tribute has continued to pour in from every part of Canada including from the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

For two years, Downie battled an incurable form of brain cancer. One would expect that his diagnosis would mean the end of his career but Downie defied the scourge and continued to produce new music with which he toured and campaigned for indigenous rights.

Downie’s lyrics – both solo and with The Tragically Hip band – was poetic and dissected Canada’s history. There were those who criticized his songs for lacking nationalism. Reacting to this accusation in 2014 in his interview with the Canadian Press, Downie said,

“I haven’t written… any pro-Canadian lyrics, any kind of jingoistic, nationalistic cant. That stuff doesn’t interest me and I don’t even know if I could write that if I tried, because I don’t really feel it.”

Downie had received a number of national awards including the Order of Canada crown from Justin Trudeau for advocating for reconciliation with indigenous people with his work. Speaking to reporters with eyes drenched in tears, the Prime Minister said, “We are less as a country without Gord Downie in it”.

Downie recognized and spoke out against the dark masked by the national politeness including the injustice in the system. Whether he knew it or not, he was practicing the oral tradition which has been the means through which the indigenous people passed down history to the younger generation as described by UNESCO, “pass on knowledge, cultural and social values and collective memory”.

The amount of tribute pouring in is an indication that Downie’s music touched many Canadians irrespective of profession or political affiliation. His songs were often laced with references to Canadian towns and history, and the more obscure mentions of hockey.

Morgan Rielly, Leafs defenseman, said, “He’s a huge inspiration to all of Canada. He has a lot of fans in this room, all over Canada, and all over the world. When you read about his career, and everything, he was something special.”

From the entertainment industry, tribute continued to pour in from musicians and artists. Kevin Hearn, a member of The Barenaked Ladies – a band that became popular almost at the same time as The Tragically Hip – tagged them “Canada’s house band”.

Rush of the Progressive Rock Band said it was “sad sad day for Canada and Canadian music”.

Canadian actors having a swell time in Hollywood, Ryan Reynolds and Seth Rogen also expressed their grief through a tweet when the news of the passing away of the star spread.

Popular Canadian comedian, Dan Aykroyd, who gave a helping hand to book the Tragically Hip on Saturday Night Live in SNL termed Downie’s demise as the “end of an era. Gord’s writing, voice, music, dancing and genuine energetic talent in service of us all will be vital forever in our national, common emotional core,” he said.

Candles and flowers are growing in Springer Square Market, Kingston, Ontario, the hometown of The Tragically Hip. A candlelight vigil was held on Wednesday evening in the city.


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