It’s a Good Life if You Don’t Weaken

As I sit here playing Fallout 4, on bed rest because of this lung infection that I’ve had for two months and haven’t taken care of until last week, I have the volume turned down on the TV. Any sound that I’m hearing is coming from the windows outside, and from the music that I have playing on my phone. Specifically, I am listening to the Phantom Power album by the Tragically Hip.

Much like millennium, mentioned in a previous post, this music brings me back to a specific time in my life, made golden by the light of memory. The first song I ever heard by The Tragically Hip was Bobcaygeon. It was about 4:30 in the morning at the time of year when the sun starts to rise a bit later each day.

I was depressed, heartbroken, and within a month of fully giving up on life. I hadn’t slept in a week, and my thoughts were barely my own. I had MuchMoreMusic on, because it played calmer music than MuchMusic. Bobcaygeon came on, and I was instantly hooked. The mood, the solitude, the mental state, all could have contributed; and might not have. I’ll never really know.

What I do know is their music helped to carry me to somewhere more stable so I could carry on. This was nearly twenty years ago, and yet memories are burned into my brain, indelible, of sitting in the wan morning light and hearing Gord Downie’s calm sonorous voice. Walking along the bridge west of Celeste at 11 at night after leaving Leon’s house, and Don’t Wake Daddy was just starting up as my boots crunched through the thin sheets of ice on the sidewalk.

Specific moments, frozen in time by one band, as no other has done.

I don’t generally cry when people die, particularly celebrities, as overall I feel like they’re going on to better things. I cried when I read that Gord’s cancer was terminal. I cried through their last concert. I cried when he died. I’m getting misty just writing this.

His job wasn’t nearly done. He left a hole in the world when he left. He was one of few true and pure voices of love and decency.

He will be missed, but memories and music are forever.

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If We Ever Get Home

Today we say goodbye to one of the most decent human beings that walked this earth. Gordon Downie was more than just a man. He spent every day fighting for what’s right, and managed to do it in a way that did not alienate or disturb others. He was not a brash, outspoken preacher. He was, instead, simply decent. He said his piece, and left it up to you to decide what you thought. He didn’t waste time on judgment. He didn’t waste his days complaining about what he couldn’t change. He showed himself to be a bright light in the darkness for others to follow.

The music that he made was a protest song, a love song, a driving song, and a hanging out on the front porch music all at once. The music, like the man, never forced it’s opinions upon you. The song Courage was essentially about suicide. It didn’t have to be interpreted that way, though. It was what you needed it to be. The same for the song leave.

The first song I heard by them was Bobcaygeon. I loved it from the moment I heard it. I waited, however, until I heard Poets before I actually bought the Phantom Power album. From start to finish, it was beautiful, and served as a soundtrack for a memorable portion of my life.

Gordon Downie will be truly missed, and it is unlikely that anyone will be able to fill his boots. Hopefully out of the millions of people born today, one of them managed to snatch up a bit of what he left behind.