Rave On Gord Downie

Gord was just a kid. Hell we were all just kids in 1984. 
I first meet him when I answered a knock my hotel room door at the Prince George Hotel in Kingston and there he was with a couple of his high school buddies... #ingordwetrust   
>>>tom
 

1984 
I WAS THERE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE AFTERNOON WHILE DRINKING BEER, PLAYING CARDS THAT I HAD A KNOCK AT MY HOTEL ROOM DOOR AND STANDING OUT IN THE HALLWAY WERE THESE REALLY FRESH KIDS, SHUFFLING FROM ONE FOOT TO ANOTHER… 
THEY TOLD ME THEY WERE FANS AND THAT THEY HAD SEEN US AT DOLLAR BILLS AND HAD BOUGHT OUR RECORD AND THAT THEY WERE IN HIGH SCHOOL AND THEY HAD A BAND TOO. 
I SAID, “OH YEAH… WHAT’S THE NAME OF YOUR BAND”, AND ONE OF THEM SAID “THE TRAGICALLY HIP” 
WOW… THAT’S A GREAT FUCKIN’ NAME MAN. YOU OUTTA HOLD ON TO THAT ONE FOR SURE. 
I THINK I MAY HAVE KEPT THEM OUT IN THE HALLWAY BECAUSE THERE WAS A CARD GAME GOING ON IN OUR ROOM AND THERE WAS MONEY ON THE TABLE AND SOME LOCAL COLOURS HANGING AROUND AND PRIVACY WAS OF THE UPMOST IMPORTANCE. 
SO WE TALKED THROUGH THE DOORWAY ABOUT MUSIC. THEY TOLD ME THEY PLAYED EARLY ROLLING STONES AND DID A FEW MONKEY COVERS SO I ASKED THEM IF THEY WANTED TO COME DOWN TO THE BAR THAT NIGHT AND DO A SET BEFORE US. LIKE A HALF HOUR OR 45 MINUTES AND DO YOU GUYS HAVE ENOUGH SONGS TO FILL A SET LIKE THAT??? 
THEY SAID YEAH SURE AND I CLOSED THE DOOR AND I WENT BACK TO THE CARD GAME. 
THAT NIGHT THEY ALL SHOWED UP, SOME OF THEM YOUNGER THAN THE ONES THAT SHOWED CAME TO MY HOTEL ROOM EARLIER THAT DAY. WE BROUGHT THEM DOWNSTAIRS AND INTO THIS DAMP BASEMENT WE WERE USING AS A DRESSING ROOM AND WE MAY HAVE GIVEN THEM SOME BEER OR SMOKED A JOINT BUT WE KEPT THEM OUT OF SIGHT BECAUSE THEY WERE WAY UNDERAGE AND ALL LOOKED LIKE BOY SCOUTS AND ONE OF THEM LIKE A GIRL GUIDE AND WE LET THEM USE OUR AMPS AND DRUMS AND BASICALLY KEPT AN EYE OUT FOR THEM. 
9:00 PM COMES AND THEY GO UP ON STAGE AND PLUG IN AND START PLAYING ALL THESE REALLY OLD BRITISH INVASION R&B SONGS … SONGS THAT I HAD NEVER HEARD AROUND THE POST PUNK CANADIAN MUSIC SCENE AND THEY PLAYED THEM WITH SOME KIND OF AWKWARD PRECISION LIKE THEY HAD ACTUALLY REHEARSED. WE NEVER REHEARSED WE JUST MADE IT UP AS WE WENT ALONG. I WAS SURPRISED THAT THESE GUYS WERE ACTUALLY SITTING IN A GROOVE. 
I CAN’T REMEMBER ALL THE SONGS THEY PLAYED BUT THERE WAS A VERSION OF “BABY PLEASE DON’T GO” BY THEM AND THEY ALSO DID DO “OFF THE HOOK” BY THE STONES. I MEAN WHO THE FUCK DOES “OFF THE HOOK”??? NOBODY AROUND THE HAMMER AND NOBODY THAT I KNEW OF. 
AND IT WAS FRESH 
IT WASN’T OLD GEEZER STYLE ROCK N ROLL BECAUSE THESE WERE CHILDREN WITH GUITARS PLAYING ANCIENT R&B… 
THE SINGER WAS ANOTHER STORY. 
HE WASN’T LIKE THE GOB SOAKED, FOUL MOUTHED, STREET CORNER KNUCKLEHEADS I RAN INTO TRYING TO PROVE SOMETHING.  
HE WAS MORE EXOTIC… KINDA RARE. NOT YOUR AVERAGE COCK SWINGIN’ PUNK FRONT MAN AND HE REALLY LOVED SINGING THOSE SONGS AND I THOUGHT HE WAS BRAVE TO STAND UP THERE IN A ROOM FULL OF BOOZEY FACED PRINCESS STREET ROUNDERS AND ALLOW HIMSELF TO BE FULLY EXPOSED THE WAY HE DID. HE DIDN’T HIDE BEHIND EGO THE WAY SO MANY OF US DID. 
AS ALEX THE LARGE WOULD SAY, “IT WAS LIKE A GREAT BIRD HAD FLOWN INTO THE ROOM”… 
I THINK MAYBE HE WAS JUST INNOCENT. HE WAS INNOCENT THEN AND SOMEHOW TO MY EYES HE MANAGED TO STAY THAT WAY BECAUSE WHEN I THINK OF GORD DOWNIE IN 1984 ON THAT SHITTY LITTLE STAGE AT THE TOUCAN, IN KINGSTON AND I THINK OF HIM A FEW SUMMERS AGO ON STAGE AT THE INTERSTELLAR RODEO IN EDMONTON I KNOW I’M LOOKING AT THE SAME GUY. A LOT OF US TRY TO COVER UP WHAT WE ARE. GORD ACTS OUT WHAT HE IS FOR ALL OF US TO SEE. THE CELLS HAVE NOT CHANGED. HIS INNOCENCE HAS STAYED IN TACT DESPITE THE 33 YEARS BETWEEN THOSE TWO PERFORMANCES. 
AND THE BRAVERY RAVES ON…HE REMINDED ME A BIT OF MICK JAGGER ON THE TAMI SHOW BACK THEN. HE ENDED UP AS SOMETHING WE’D NEVER SEEN BEFORE… HE WAS ALL HIS OWN CREATION AND IT WAS A COMPELLING AND HONEST LIVE WIRE THAT BURNED A HOLE INTO OUR IMAGINATIONS AND A VOICED WHAT WAS THE SOUNDTRACK TO TWO GENERATIONS OF CANADIANS. ALL CANADIANS WHO PARTIED IN KITCHENS OR IN THE PARKING LOTS BEFORE HOCKEY GAMES. BLASTED FROM CAR WINDOWS AND DJ BOOTHS EVERYWHERE. 
WHO WON THE GREY CUP IN 1994???  
I DON’T HAVE CLUE, BUT IF I HAD TO GUESS I’D SAY IT WAS GORD DOWNIE AND THE TRAGICALLY HIP… 

  • Tom Wilson