Sunday October 22, 2017

What are your thoughts on the life and death of Gord Downie?

Legendary Canadian musician Gord Downie died this week at the age of 53. (CBC)

Legendary Canadian musician Gord Downie died this week at the age of 53. (CBC)

Listen to Full Episode 1:52:32

Sunday on Cross Country Checkup: Remembering Gord

We knew it was coming.  

Duncan McCue

Host of Cross Country Checkup, Duncan McCue.

 Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip made it very public last year. Gord had been diagnosed with an invasive brain tumour, and didn't have long to live. That news was like a sucker punch - shocking and tragic. 

It was hard to imagine Canada without him. He was more than a rock star. The Hip were dubbed Canada's house band, thanks to Downie's lyrics - infused with his passion for the history and mythology of this country. 

In the days and months following the announcement of his cancer, Canadians mourned Gord Downie, as he and the Hip set out on an emotional city-by-city, cross-country farewell tour aided by a teleprompter, his memory deteriorating to the point that he couldn't remember the songs he'd sung most of his life.  Eleven million people, a third of the country, tuned in to watch that last Hip show in Kingston, watching him tenderly kiss his family and bandmates. When he cried on stage, we cried with him.

But he wasn't done yet. He took the stage again, sharing a new album called The Secret Path - songs about Chanie Wenjack, an Anishinaabe boy who died fleeing a northern Ontario residential school. Even as he stared down death, he looked to the future of Canada, devoting much of the final year of his life telling the nation it was time to get serious about reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

When he eventually did pass away this week, 53 years old, we had, in a way, already mourned and cried for him.

But, we often return to our favourite movies and books more than once. Even when we know the ending. We see the nuances, the connections that touched us the first time around. It still resonates, gives us cause us to reflect more.

There is a public memorial in the works, but we want to pay tribute to Gord Downie's passion for Canada by opening up the phonelines, as we always do on Checkup, to hear from Canadians coast to coast to coast.

Our question today: "What are your thoughts on the life and death of Gord Downie?"

GUESTS

Brian Lipsin
Owner of Record Option, record store in Kingston, Ont. 

Virginia Clark
Manager at Kingston Ont., music venue The Grad Club

Dave Bidini
Author and musician

Julie Doiron
Musician

Sheila North-Wilson
Grand Chief, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak

George Stroumboulopoulos
Host, The Strombo Show