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In a concert for the ages on August 20th, 2016, Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip united our country like a majestic, magical national sporting event or other cultural phenomena that only comes along once in a blue moon.
But Downie’s recent nationally-televised stitching together of our nation’s fabric runs much deeper. Defining our nation through the embodiment of both well- and lesser-known Canadiana history – be it through hockey card legends, wartime atrocities or political injustices – his stories have always instilled a sense of pride, history and urgency that touches deep into the places of the heart most of us don’t often realize we have.
Unite For the Good of Everyone
And whether you earlier this year voted federally for the Liberals or otherwise, Downie’s acknowledgment of the Prime Minister in the crowd was more than just a political shout out. It also stood as plea to us and Mr. Trudeau, collectively as Canadians, to better ourselves and our good fortunes by working to better the lives of those other Canadians around us – especially those less fortunate or those who have been forgotten or mistreated in both our past and current day.
Gord Downie’s catalogue of stories through the band’s music puts the concept of our capabilities of love, grace and humility – as humans and as a nation – ahead himself, his musical brethren and all the obligatory riches n’ spoils sought after (and abused) by many in the music and entertainment industries. The Hip’s songs, maybe now more than ever, exist to enrich our lives in more meaningful ways than one might think possible. And that’s the power of The Hip’s music – all led by a courageous human being who’s inspired many of us not only by song and battling illness resolve, but also by his display of open and emotional love for his fellow band mates, concert crew, fans and nation.
Music Builds the Brand
As a nation, we have always had trouble defining what Canadian culture is. Maybe it’s time we stop trying and simply embrace this almost vague yet heartwarming ‘un-definition’ that truly stands in such contrast to many other nations – who’s ‘defined’ cultures often leave little to be desired as a place to live or to be part of. What may be our greatest weakness – of having no defined culture – may actually be our greatest strength. Maybe we as Canadians defy definition – and maybe that’s what makes us Canadian.
Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip share, embody and sing to us about that ‘un-definition’ and its strength through humble, loving stories told in timeless, amazing rock and roll songs. Thus, I am thankful for more than just the rock and roll – I’m thankful for Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip – who have always taken me, as a Canadian, to a place way beyond that.
PS – Lastly, a belated and collective thank you to the CBC. Often the victim of our nation’s scorn and ridicule as a public broadcasting entity, the concert coverage was a larger–than-life statement of true commitment to everything that is Canadian and what makes our nation great.