Coping with the loss of a music icon

I don’t want to think of a world without Gord Downie and the Hip.

It goes without saying that I am a huge Tragically Hip fan. I think most Canadians around my age are.

They dominated the airwaves when I was growing up with their unique sound and outstanding song writing.

Quite a few of my summers were soundtracked by The Hip.

I’ve seem them live several times and they are among my favourite concerts.

That’s what made  it so hard to hear the news that Gord Downie, their lead singer and lyricist, has incurable brain cancer.

I don’t want to think of a world without Gord Downie and the Hip.

Music has had a tough year already. The list of the lost or ailing is distinguished and varied.

It got me thinking as to why we are so affected when a music icon is struck down.

What makes their affliction any more important or worthy of outcry and sympathy?

There isn’t a person in Canada that hasn’t been touched by cancer, either directly or indirectly.

Not too many of them have their doctors hold a press conference to explain their diagnosis or warrant the ‘Breaking News’ banner.

So why the fuss?

I think it is because music is personal.

Our favourite artists connect with us and when they get sick or we lose them, it is like we lose a piece of ourselves.

Their contribution to our lives is something we take for granted as always being there.

I’m sure everyone has a story about their favourite music.

We hold onto these stories and memories and they are priceless.

When I hear ‘Little Bones’, it takes me back to the nightclub I worked at when I was younger. Much younger.

I remember my first Hip concert.

They sound even better live.

Gord Downie is an outstanding live performer.

He has a way of losing himself inside their set list and bringing his audience with him.

I’m looking forward to seeing which music my six-year-old son latches on to.

So far, he likes anything with a loud guitar.

The other day, he was rocking out to Jimi Hendrix.

I want him to have varied tastes but that isn’t up to me.

All I can do is expose him to a variety and see what catches on.

That is what makes music so great. It is the ultimate personal choice.

No one can dictate what you will love.

Many parents have tried but ultimately fail.

I look forward to telling him about the Tragically Hip and Gord Downie.

I think he’ll like them.

In that way, musicians are immortal. I’ll let a quote from the Tragically Hip song, ‘Ahead by a Century‘ close out this column.

“First thing we’d climb a tree and maybe then we’d talk

Or sit silently and listen to our thoughts

With illusions of someday casting a golden light

No dress rehearsal, this is our life

You are ahead by a century (this is our life)”

Rob Murphy is the sales manager at the Summerland Review.