Last night I sat by a campfire on the shores of the Bay of Fundy drinking beer out of a stainless steel coffee mug. And like many, many thousands of others my radio was tuned to the CBC for what was a national celebration of our band, our musical heroes, the Tragically Hip.
The last stop on their summer tour this year — in their hometown Kingston, Ontario — may just be the last time any of us see them perform. Frontman Gord Downie has been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour, and this was the band’s last tour.
It was a celebration no doubt, but one with a heavy weight. For we all have a special place in our hearts for something Tragically Hip — we can each discuss our own special moments as easily as we discuss the weather — and this was one more, perhaps final, thing we can have in common.
It’s hard to accept that that might be it for them. That their latest album will be their last new music we’ll hear. Their latest tour will be the last performances we’ll see. So much of my life has been soundtracked by the Hip and it’s difficult to accept that soundtrack will end.
But damn it was good to hear Gord singing, dancing, performing. That’s what we’ll all remember.