I have been awed by Canadians’ embrace of The Tragically Hip and Gord Downie over the summer. Perhaps it was best summed up by a tweet two weeks ago from the Toronto Police:
Dear World, Please be advised that Canada will be closed tonight at 8:30 p.m ET. Have a #TragicallyHip day.
It seemed like the whole country watched The Tragically Hip’s last concert. My Facebook feed was full to bursting with links and comments. Even The New Yorker weighed in.
Confession: I didn’t watch it. I somehow missed boarding The Tragically Hip train in the 90s. I don’t recognize their music. Or song titles. Even after this summer, I still don't. Please don’t feel bad for me. I'm not losing sleep over it. All in all, I'd rather be knitting.
Mia Pearson wrote in The Globe and Mail that, “The Tragically Hip are both part of the Canadian fabric and born of it. For many, they are the articulation of Canadianness.”
Maybe that’s why I’ve never been a Tragically Hip fan. Their Canadianness is not my Canadianness. I’m a west coaster through and through. I travel north-south rather than east-west. I believe in Cascadia. I don't watch hockey.
Whatever the reasons, I do know that I powerfully admire Gord Downie. He made a brave choice to exit stage left doing what he does best: singing about the Canadian experience.
Even though I remain tragically unhip, I still identify with this spirit.
Gord, thank you for your powerful and selfless good-bye. I wish you the best in the time you have left.