“We all knew it was coming; but we hoped it wasn’t”
(Prime Minister Justin Trudeau)
Perfectly expressed by the Prime Minister of our Country.
You know you’ve had a profound impact on a Country, when it’s leader is reduced to tears in an official acknowledgment.
We live in a great Country, and Gord Downie has helped in that. He’s helped us realize it, confirm it and revel in it. He was our very own. Never too big for his britches. He never ‘blew at high dough.’
And this is indeed a great, great Country. And it’s even better than that, because we always strive to be…better than that.
As the PM said, indeed Canada is a lesser place *without* Gord Downie in it; but I’m sure we’d all agree, better for having experienced his talent, wisdom, words and quirks.
“The Man who walks among the Stars” has passed away at the age of 53.
Even if you’ve been doing what I’ve been doing, for as long as I’ve been doing it, moments with Gord Downie, were rare. He didn’t seek it out, but he always left a poignant impression.
The other guys most often did the interviews and Gord often remained in the background.
Smart and shy, with that damn crazy goofy grin.
They came up just as I was starting out in Radio and I even played my first HIP cut on the air on vinyl!
It was “Small Town Bringdown” from the first EP. 1988, at a great little rock station in Niagara.
It wasn’t long until “Up to here” arrived at that point.
I was lucky, I got to play street hockey with Gord around the release of one of his solo records around 06-07. He really loved the concept. It was so Canadian. It was so Gord. He charmed everyone in the house that day. It was some lucky winner who got a kitchen visit/interview as I took my show on the road. He stayed longer than he had to when the broadcast was over, and there were hugs for everyone when it was time to go.
That wasn’t the first time I met him. The first time I met him, he punched me.
A real solid brotherly love kinda punch that was half affectionate, half jocular; which really seemed to be much of Gord’s make-up — as far I could tell.
It was March of 1995 after co-host (and fellow Canuck) Dan Aykroyd insisted that the Tragically Hip do Saturday Night Live.
Talking about the “Canadian Connection” on SNL:
Of course there is Toronto’s Lorne Michaels, the architect of the show.
Paul Shaeffer the Music Director. There’s Howard Shore, the other music guy, and my first cousin Stacey Foster, who is the Audio Producer/Consultant for Lorne in NYC, and has been for years.
My friend Dan and I on the famous SNL Soundstage before the Hip play
Stacey called me up before I left Ontario for New York and asked me ‘what I thought, about the HIP?’
I told him they were great, they are huge in Canada. I love em!
And he said, ‘ah well, we’re not ‘getting it here’
“They sound like a weaker version of REM.” “We could have gone out and got REM if we wanted REM.”
I told him “Dan Aykroyd isn’t wrong, bare with it. They’re subtle.”
The HIP were there in March of 95. I was lucky enough to be there. Sat behind Johnny Fay’s parents next to the light scaffolding at 30 ROCK and in the end my cousin finally came around on them.
SNL Audio Producer/Consultant Stacey Foster supervises the mix down for the Hip’s Saturday Night SNL appearance on the Friday before the show (March 1995)
Getting on SNL is a huge coup for Canadian acts;
The first season featured performances by Anne Murray and Gordon Lightfoot — although one of Lightfoots three songs was interrupted by John Belushi’s samurai character. Hilarious!
Michael Buble, Alanis Morissette, Sum 41 and Robbie Robertson also made more than one appearance.
Others; The HIP, Neil Young, Avril, Arcade Fire, and Drake…..
So that is a mantle of honour.
So there we were, my pal and I in New York to take it all in. A guest of my cousin, jumping on the elevator at 30 Rock heading up to the SNL Studios on 8-H.
And there they were, right there in the elevator.
We greeted each other as Canadians often do when they travel; smiles, back-slaps.
We were excited young Rock Jocks who were big fans and high on the Big Apple.
Speaking of high, Gord looked like he just smoked a good sized rocket; if not his cologne was definitely “Ode du Cannabis.” (;
Gord did what Gord always does, he smiled graciously, very humbly and we wished him well with ‘have a great show!’
Then came the brother shot. Right in the pec. It was a stiff one.
It was a Gord way of saying, thanks for coming.
That was the first time I met Gord Downie. The next time we played street hockey.
Funny the things you remember.