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On this day of legalization of marijuana in Canada, I also want to acknowledge the relevance, to me, that this day was chosen. Many people are aware that our Prime Minister and Gordon Downey were close friends. This is also the anniversary of the passing of Gordon Downey. Although no direct correlation has been made by our government as to this being the reason this day was chosen, any thoughtful Canadian will agree that the relevance is there. It doesn't need to be acknowledged or said. I wanted to share some of my thoughts about Gordon Downey today and am hopeful that his legacy will carry on towards people who may otherwise be unaware of his stature in Canada in folk lore and history. He was and is a great man and Canadian. I hope whomever reads this gets some enjoyment from it.
I was graced with the opportunity to see The Hip perform many times over the years, dating back to the first Roadside Attraction on Seabird Island in Agassiz, British Columbia. I was probably 16 at the time in 1992. Their albums seem to be the soundtrack to events in my life, both good and bad. A colleague, whom I work with in the film industry, had managed to get tickets to the second show in Vancouver on the final tour and offered two of them to me. A stroke of incredible luck, considering how quickly they sold out.
A few days before, I randomly checked my spam box on my Facebook and saw a message from someone at CBC looking for the ultimate Hip fan to come onto the Rick Cluff morning show to talk about The Hip. Having considered it was indeed spam, I replied anyway just in case. 15 minutes later I received a phone call. She was in a rush and said she would call me back to discuss further. She never did. So I called back and she had informed me that the spot had already been filled. I wasn't going to accept that answer. For the next 15 minutes I went on about the oddness and hilarity and sometimes sadness that I experienced over the years with The Hip in my ears. She eventually succumbed to my barrage of Hip history and I agreed to be on the show at 7 AM the next day.
I was comfortable on the microphone. I mentioned how Bruce Allen had once said that The Hip could not be considered a great band because they never broke through the American market. My thoughts were, if Trump's whole slogan for his campaign was to 'Make America Great Again,' it implied that it wasn't great before. Therefore, The Hip not cracking their market indeed made them great. I told stories about my friends shoe being thrown at Gord and Gord kicking it around the stage while reciting a spontaneous poem about his death being by a shoe. This was back in about 1992. The weather girl welled up with tears. She had been there and had forgotten that moment in her life and here I was 24 years later, as a stranger, provoking a memory. It was beautiful.
On the way to the concert, we walked from Gastown. The streets were covered with people in Hip jerseys, concert shirts and there was a calmness and politeness amongst the streets. Strangers talked to strangers while having a casual stroll to the show. Stories about memories from The Hip. Smiles. Politeness. Selflessness.
Entering the stadium it was almost like the security trusted that your ticket was valid. No one was frisked or wanded. No bags checked. No one needed to be. The beer lines were orderly. For about four hours, I'm sure there was about a five block radius around that stadium where there was no crime. Everyone was safe, police or not. People wept and not for themselves. They wept with thanks, and grace too.
After the show I left my concert shirt on a seat in a bar and realized it later. I didn't feel loss. I just left it for whomever found it and was ok with that. Gordon Downey and The Hip created this type of feel by being themselves. These are good people. They made and make people better humans. They make Canada proud and without arrogance. We have every right to be and they remind us of that with every song.
To be faced with death and to know your time is limited, is surreal. Gord decided to give us all one more two fifty for a highball and a buck and a half for a beer. He got to go out exactly how he would have preferred even if he didn't prefer to go. It's incredibly unique and rare to witness someone's true swan song.
I'm thankful to Gord, the rest of the band and his family and friends for creating this story. My life has been greatly altered by their art and performances over time. I don't have to miss any of it because it's all in the forefront of my mind and always will be. The story is complete.
With thanks and #ingordwetrust