Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Gord Downie and Life and Grief

Mark just messaged me with this news. This one got me. So often we hear sad news about a celebrity and it touches us, because we have "memories" of their movies/songs/concerts/art/moves/goals/etc. But it's not real. We don't/didn't know them. They don't/didn't know us. It's good we feel a little sad because it shows their accomplishments touched us, and it shows we have empathy. But then we move on. It's not our place to 'grieve' with that real life person or their friends and family. They grieve the person .... we're only grieving the ghost/the mirage/the image.
But within that, there is always a caveat isn't there? For everyone there is some exception. Gord Downie is my exception. This feels like family. His songs are woven into the underbelly of every part of my growing up (a process that spans from those early recollections of awakening from childhood right up until now and continues still .... I'm not sure I'll ever feel like a grown up). The Hip's songs colour such a huge number of my memories. First jobs, the taste on my tongue of dirt and sunshine working in the yard, my first kiss, my first broken heart, growing in and out of friendships, painting rooms (so much painting rooms), home repair projects, the slow slip of time on perfectly free afternoons, long long road trips, falling in love, then falling in love for real. I hear their songs when I recall the scent of my new babies, how I sang Hip songs to them because I was too tired to remember any lullabies, and how right that felt. I remember falling asleep for the first time in the arms of a man, listening to the Hip ...... his favourite Hip album was Up to here, mine was Road Apples ..... he married me anyways.
So this news of Gord Downie is exceptional in it's sadness for me. I am so sad for me and I am so sad for him. He is an artist that continually created poems and music that felt authentic, and sincere. He made art he got ...... and he and the band didn't seem to give a shit if anyone else did. But it didn't feel like they were defiant about that, simply naked .... laid bare. It either spoke to you or it didn't. Most of the time I got it. There is a deeply Canadian feel to his lyrics, something intangible but undeniable, whatever the 'Canadian' voice is they found it. His songs felt like stories, tales of how to be strong and how to break open to let the good stuff out.
I send my heartfelt condolences to Gord Downie, to his family, to the Hip, to his friends, to his fans. I know sad hard days lie ahead for them. I know he doesn't know me, but his music does, so I'm going to hold a little of this grief back for me.

Following the Victoria, BC concert. I posted this about the experience: So it's Friday, and we are with our children watching the hip. Gord ascended to the stage resplendent in a shimmering fushia suit .... and sang, Boots or Hearts, barely audibly above the crowd ..... who hit every note and screamed every word. It took my breathe away. 
The crowd is giddy on joy and sorrow. Happy Friday. Go feast upon the bitter and the sweet. GO!

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