“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”
– from “Ahead by a Century,” by The Tragically Hip
Lately when I read the news, I’m reminded of how many things disunite us. The headlines are full of “us and them” stories, and tales in which we see the worst of humanity. So it’s a reason to celebrate when something happens that pulls us together.
Last night was the final concert of The Tragically Hip, one of the most beloved Canadian bands ever. Their lead singer, Gord Downie, is often called the poet laureate of our country. When Downie announced earlier this year that he had inoperable brain cancer, and this summer’s tour would be their last, we mourned this band that told us so many stories about ourselves.
The Hip has been together for over 30 years. They sing about uniquely Canadian people and events – Bill Barilko, Hugh MacLennan, David Milgaard, the FLQ kidnapping. They unite people across the country, rural and urban, and across generations. On our first wedding anniversary, Andrew and I danced to “Boots or Hearts” at a work event; now our youngest daughter performs a brilliant air vocal of the same song.
Last night our national broadcaster, the CBC, aired the show commercial-free on TV, radio, and via streaming. Andrew and I watched from our back yard; many others saw it in public squares or at pool parties – or at a viewing party at the Rio Olympics.
At a time when many things tear us apart, it was a privilege to be one of millions of Canadians paying tribute to someone who unites us.