This weekend was by far the most patriotic I have felt, probably ever. A couple of circumstances aligned that provoked a lot of feelings of pride, humility, vulnerability and respect. In 24 hours we witnessed the culmination of an emotional last concert of an epic Canadian band and the closing ceremonies of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. I’ve seen a lot of Facebook posts indicating that many of you felt the same, but I just had to blog about it.
I still remember vividly the moment that The Tragically Hip crossed my radar. It was 1983, as a townie student at Western University I was reading the Western newspaper (yes, actual printed paper, lol) on my 1 hour bus commute to school. An article jumped out about a new band called The Tragically Hip who was rocking the bars and pubs in Kingston, Ontario. As a 20 something embracing alternative everything I was struck by how weird their name was… thus automatically cool and relevant. Fast forward 33 years and 19 truly Canadian albums plus a couple of solo albums the lead singer, Gord Downie was tragically (no pun intended) diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour. Courageously, the band embarked on one last tour of Canada, wrapping up in their hometown of Kingston Saturday evening. CBC Radio and Television advertised the heck out of the concert as a National Celebration. I was pleased to see, even during the Olympics. They televised the concert live without commentary or advertisements, which was incredible!!! I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the Hip live twice but on Saturday we elected to stay home and invite some friends to watch the concert on a big screen on the deck with a rocking sound system.
It was a blast!! Never have I witnessed a more emotionally charged rock concert. The love between band members as well as love for and from the audience was so obvious, so touching. Gord was more outrageous than ever on stage in his flamboyant hats. His personal struggle with what was unfolding was very evident as he struggled not to cry (choosing to scream instead) during one of their 5 encores. We felt like we were there. We found ourselves whooping and singing along and clapping. What made it even more magical was the thunderstorm that began during the concert, with the lightning in the distance. Luckily we had shelter but it truly felt like the sky was crying and battling to accept reality along with Gord and us. Prime Minister Trudeau was present at the concert in his Hip t-shirt and Gord had a little pep talk with him from the stage about turning our country around lol. But when he said, “Have a nice life.” I had to wipe away some tears. The experience was so powerful I was glad to be surrounded by friends (thinking about others who we would have loved to have seen but couldn’t pull it off). Music is so amazing for bringing you places, stirring memories and evoking emotions. This music, at this time was all that to me.
The next day, as we watched the final competitions and closing ceremonies of the Olympics we reflected on the 22 medals hard won by our Canadian athletes: Their pride to represent their country, giving their all to perform their best in their events. Canada faired very well per capita, 30th in the world standings (USA was 50th). We’re a big country, with relatively few people, but our people have talent, dedication and spunk!! Way to go Canada! Brave and courageous!
And way to go Gord, you brave and courageous man! People will be getting goosebumps about that last concert for years to come. You’ve left a legacy of music and we will sorely miss you and your beautiful poetry.
Lisa Goddard B.A., BScOT, NWL, is a Certified Pilates Instructor with special training in Pre and Post-Natal Pilates. She co-owns Balanced Motion Pilates and Yoga Studio in New Liskeard, ON