My first experience with the Tragically Hip was a memorable one. My friend Driver invited me to Pine Knob, the summer after our freshman year in college, to see this amazing Canadian rock band I had only barely heard of, with an enigmatic lead singer and bluesy vibe. I was really going to see the opening band, Guster, but the Hip were a new, added bonus. I had no expectations.
Then they opened with “Tiger the Lion,” a booming, slightly psychedelic rant on a hot July night, and I thought, “My God, where have these guys been?”
The rest is personal history. I’ve since seen the Hip more than any other band (more than a dozen concerts, easily), traveling back and forth over the Canadian border to see the North’s favorite rock and roll band. The last time, in January 2015 at the Windsor, Ontario casino, was just months before lead singer Gord Downie was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.
The news hit last week that Gord passed away. I’ve spent the last week in mourning. It’s been rough.
Last Wednesday I loaded up my Hip playlist, grabbed my camera, and hit the streets for some fresh air and therapy. It’s all I felt like doing: playing music, and making pictures. What else can one do when a music hero dies?
Thanks Gord, for everything: the music, the memories, and that magical summer night in 2000 that gave me 17 wonderful years of your performances.