I looked up to Gord above and said, Hey man, thanks

Re­mem­ber the mu­sic, be the change

Annex Post - - NEWS - by Ron John­son

On Oct. 18, we all woke up to the news of the tragic pass­ing of Gord Downie, ac­claimed front­man of ven­er­a­ble Cana­dian band the Trag­i­cally Hip. The news made our prime min­is­ter cry on na­tional TV, which just about says it all.

I, like many, have my own Hip mo­ments. Most of them were in the early days of the band when they swiftly so­lid­i­fied their place in Cana­dian mu­sic with the first cou­ple al­bums. They played gi­ant out­door venues, such as Mol­son Park in Bar­rie, and cre­ated their own tour­ing fes­ti­val with An­other Road­side At­trac­tion.

It was at one of these shows that I first met my fu­ture wife when I put her up on my shoul­ders and crooned to 50 Mis­sion Cap along with thou­sands of new friends.

I re­mem­ber so clearly the stream-of-con­scious­ness ban­ter that would is­sue forth from Downie like some­one pos­sessed, the swag­ger, the Bos­ton Bru­ins jersey and that in­cred­i­ble feel­ing that there was no place I’d rather be. That’s mu­sic for you.

But Downie was more than just his mu­sic, and that’s what I dis­cov­ered later in life.

Through my work here at Post City, I had the op­por­tu­nity to chat with him a few times about his projects, mu­si­cal as well as en­vi­ron­men­tal through his work with Water­keeper. I also spoke with artists who were in­flu­enced by him, such as Dal­las Green and Jim Cuddy.

The way they talked about him, it was easy to re­al­ize Downie al­ready had a pro­found in­flu­ence not just on Cana­dian mu­sic, but on life in Canada.

It is easy to trot out lines like he will not be for­got­ten and his mu­sic will live on, but with Downie there is no doubt. This is an artist we want to talk about, to tell our chil­dren about and ex­plain where we were and how it was. Just be­fore his pass­ing, my daugh­ter had al­ready em­braced the power of “New Or­leans Is Sink­ing,” and we’d had nu­mer­ous con­ver­sa­tions about see­ing this dy­namic per­former.

Many of us were moved and many more than we thought would be. His pass­ing un­earthed mem­o­ries but, more im­por­tantly, gave way to mo­ments of re­flec­tion on our own mor­tal­ity and how we want to go out and what we want to ac­com­plish be­fore that fate­ful day.

Be­cause he was more than just the mu­sic, it is fit­ting that we want to do more than just re­mem­ber his mu­sic.

He fought for our en­vi­ron­ment, for clean wa­ter and, more re­cently through his Sa­cred Path project, for our coun­try’s Indige­nous Peo­ples and to make things right. To make repa­ra­tions. And he set up the Gord Downie & Chanie Wen­jack Fund to con­tinue this work.

It’s just one step, but it could be a step down our own sa­cred paths. Maybe this, maybe some­thing else. But what bet­ter way to re­mem­ber this leg­end than to “do some­thing,” just as he asked us to do.

Gord Downie will be re­mem­bered for more than just his mu­sic

RON JOHN­SON

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