Gord Downie, the highly effective, enigmatic and splendidly quirky Canadian singer-songwriter handed away Oct. 17, 2017. It wasn’t a shock to anybody. He selected to make his mind most cancers prognosis public in Could 2016. That summer time, he underwent an emotional and exhausting tour along with his band The Tragically Hip. The finale in Kingston, Ontario was described by the New York Occasions as “an unparalleled second of nationwide pleasure laced with sorrow.”
I let my youngsters keep up late to observe the primary set. I cried like a child as I watched Downie kiss his bandmates and crew in appreciation and slowly mouth the phrases “I really like you” instantly right into a digicam throughout one of many Hip’s signature jams. It was an intimate second. Thousands and thousands shared it. I’m unsure if you should be Canadian to grasp Downie and the Hip. It helps for those who like hockey although.
I’m not the primary to attempt to join Gord, hockey, and music. Justin Cuthbert did one thing related final yr. This week, Bob McKenzie launched an excerpt of his 2014 guide, Hockey Confidential, through which he traced the historical past of the Tragically Hip and hockey. I got here to these items solely after I began scripting this one. To me, the facility of his lyrics and of the which means of the songs justify retracing a few of these steps.
I hope you agree.
Hockey and Music
Gord Downie was a Bruins fan. This was little question influenced by his godfather Harry Sinden, former coach of the Boston Bruins. Downie famously wore his Boston jersey within the music video for Braveness (for Hugh MacLennan). The Hip have been unapologetically Canadian. Hockey, as a central a part of Canadian identification, discovered its means into lots of their songs.
The 1972 Summitt Collection
Fireworks is the third single from the Hip’s sixth studio album, Phantom Energy. The tune references the 1972 Summit Collection, hockey legend Bobby Orr. The ’72 summit sequence was a fantastic second for Canada and Paul Henderson’s series-winning objective is essentially the most well-known objective in Canadian hockey historical past. It was the defining second for a technology.
MOSCOW – SEPTEMBER 28, 1972: Paul Henderson #19 (with helmet) and Bobby Clarke #28 of Group Canada have a good time Henderson’s series-winning objective in Recreation eight of the 1972 Summit Collection between Canada and the Soviet Union on the Luzhniki Ice Palace (Photograph by Denis Brodeur/NHLI through Getty Pictures)
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The tune can be about rising up and concerning the first flush of affection that may displace even the good Bobby Orr. Thought of one of many best hockey gamers of all time, Orr was a defenseman for Harry Sinden’s Bruins (in fact). He received the Stanley Cup twice, first along with his well-known flying Cup-winning objective in 1970.
If there’s a objective that everybody remembersIt was again in previous seventy-twoWe all squeezed the stick and all of us pulled the triggerAnd all I keep in mind is sitting beside you
You stated you didn’t give a fuck about hockeyAnd I by no means noticed somebody say that beforeYou held my hand and we walked house the lengthy wayYou have been loosening my grip on Bobby Orr
– Fireworks (Album, Phantom Energy, 1998)
The tune’s refrain refers to fireworks exploding within the distance, emulating heaven, and changing stars. Downie remarked that the inspiration for these lyrics got here from his important evaluation of the music business. The business too typically created pop stars and flashes-in-the-pan within the hopes of cashing in on the most recent fad and obscuring actual music.
The story of Invoice Barilko is a wierd one. That it impressed Downie to put in writing a tune that mixed the thriller of Barilko’s disappearance with a cap given to elite bomber pilots of the allied air forces throughout World Warfare II is even stranger. The tune is a gem.
Downie defined to Steve Newton in 1992 that he appreciated a unique angle to the story: “In World Warfare II once you have been a brand new pilot, you’d be given a brand new hat. After all, you’d work it in to appear like a fifty mission cap in order to seem that you simply had extra expertise than you actually did.”
Toronto Defenseman Invoice Barilko, who handed away in a airplane crash at age 24 in 1951.
Invoice Barilko disappeared that summer time,He was on a fishing journey.The final objective he ever scoredWon the Leafs the cupThey didn’t win one other till 1962,The yr he was found.I stole this from a hockey card,I hold tucked up underMy fifty mission cap, I labored it inTo appear like that
– 50 Mission Cap (Album, Totally Utterly, 1993)
When The Tragically Hip performed Maple Leaf Gardens or the Air Canada Centre and obtained to Fifty Mission Cap on the setlist, Invoice Barilko’s No. 5 banner could be spotlighted within the rafters.
Fifty Mission Cap is a part of the Leafs’ game-night playlist at the moment. In 2001, Downie introduced the Leafs with the hand-written lyrics to Fifty Mission Cap. They have been positioned within the Leafs dressing room. As CBC reported, the Toronto Maple Leafs and followers honored Downie with a second of silence earlier than their sport in opposition to the Detroit Crimson Wings this week.
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Dan Snyder and Unsung Service
Downie wrote a tune after the demise of former Atlanta Thrashers ahead Dan Snyder. Snyder died in a automobile crash when his then-teammate, Dany Heatley, misplaced management on the wheel. As Justin Cuthbert factors out: Downie tributes Snyder whereas additionally paying homage to those that serve their nation. Snyder’s mom, LuAnn Snyder, stated “the Tragically Hip have been so variety and caring to our household. We are going to always remember Gord.”
Snyder was a fan of the band, having seen The Hip in Atlanta throughout October of 2002. As an undrafted participant, he spent extra time within the AHL than the NHL, was beloved by his teammates. He was a “glue man,” somebody who introduced individuals collectively and made them stick.
Scott Desveaux described Snyder as a participant who did the “little issues that will not present up on the stat sheet. Off the ice they’re extra prone to be getting vocal from the bench, maintaining morale excessive throughout warmup/intermissions, doing little issues to assist with team-building…”
Right here’s a glue man, a efficiency godA makeshift shrine, or newly lain sodHardly even attempting, offers the nod
I positive hope I’m not the kind to dwellHope I’m a quick healer, quick as hellHeaven is a greater place todayBecause of this, however the world is simply not the identical
– Heaven is a Higher Place At this time (In Between Evolution, 2004)
The Lonely Finish of the Rink
Downie was a hockey participant. Bob McKenzie famous that within the 1990s and early 2000s, the boys within the Hip would go to nice lengths whereas touring to arrange hockey video games. Generally it was simply ball hockey in an enviornment parking zone. Extra typically it concerned discovering ice and gear to play a sport with the crew. In The Lonely Finish of the Rink, Downie wrote about enjoying objective and an important job in hockey.
Scotiabank Pond Area (Photograph by Scotiabank Pond)
Oh to hitch the rushAs the season builds
I hear your voice ‘cross a frozen lakea voice from the top of a leafsaying, ‘you received’t die of a thousand fakesor be overwhelmed by the sweetest of dekes’
On the lonely finish of the rink, you and meAt the lonely finish of the rink, the lonely finish of the rink
The Lonely Finish of the Rink (World Container, 2006)The Occasions noticed that the “place of honor that Mr. Downie occupied in Canada’s nationwide creativeness has no parallel in the USA. Think about Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and Michael Stipe mixed into one delicate, indirect poet-philosopher, and also you’re getting shut.”
For a lot of, the final time they noticed Downie was him standing alone on stage on the finish of the set, waving. He was waving goodbye. It was a surprisingly intimate second that transcended distance and illness. Gord gave us music. He gave us which means. Downie helped us perceive ourselves by way of the music he made. He shall be missed.
Heaven is a greater place todayBecause of this, however the world is simply not the identical