‘Goalie/poet’ Gord Downie dies

It was Sept. 1989, when this 26-year-old first heard the opening chords of Blow at High Dough on a kitchen radio at 5 a.m. in Galt (Cambridge, Ontario), featuring the vocals of 24-year-old Gord Downie.

I was hooked.

The 1980s were a wash-out for rock-and-roll inventiveness, and when the five friends from Kingston Ontario, The Tragically Hip, splashed onto the national scene with their first full album, Up to Here, it felt like something special.

Up to Here became my running companion for the next six years.

I saw the Hip many times over the years, but the best was in a small bar in Waterloo, Ontario, about April 1990, with my ex who was about 7 months pregnant with Canadian daughter 2-of-4.

I remember every moment of that concert.

Gord died yesterday of complications from glioblastoma, a terminal brain cancer.

We humans know so little about the brain.

PTSD, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), cancer, addiction, bad wiring, and yet we continue to bash our heads around, in sports as little kids, in cycling and falls around home construction sites. The three concussions I’ve had in the past three months, along with a lifetime of pucks to the head, have made me slow down, be more careful, and try to take care of my brain a bit better.

The best we can do, as Gord said, is try to lift up those around us.

Two of my favorite videos are below.

The first is from a song about North America, although the video was shot near Melbourne in Australia while the band was on tour.

May Ry Cooder sing your eulogy.

A gift from down under.

The second, here’s hoping for peace on Fiddler’s Green.