Three New Rules for Everyone About Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip Going Forward

Although we’re still digesting the news about Gord Downie’s health, this special situation calls for some new rules to which everyone–and I mean everyone–must adhere. I humbly propose the following.

1. NO EULOGIZING. Gord is still with us. Let’s not talk about him like he’s already passed on. That’s rude, insensitive and wrong. If you find yourself or anyone else referring to Gord or The Hip in the past tense, STOP IT.

2. STOP ASKING ABOUT THE HIP’S LACK OF AMERICAN SUCCESS. It doesn’t fucking matter that The Hip had limited success in the US. There’s only one reason why things didn’t work out: bad record contracts. It had nothing to do with the band being “too Canadian” or the inadequacy of their music. Besides, haven’t we grown out of needing American approval for everything we do with music?

3. NO CRYING. I know, I know, this is a hard one but there should be no pre-mourning. Take a lesson from Gord and the band and live in the moment. Enjoy today because tomorrow…well you know.

Anyone have anything else to add?

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

48 thoughts on “Three New Rules for Everyone About Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip Going Forward

  • May 26, 2016 at 10:01 am
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    Completely agree! I lost my wife a year ago to pancreatic cancer – although she completely rocked it for 2 years previous while terminally ill. None of us know what will happen tomorrow and Gord could outlive any one of us reading this. I want Gord and the band to have a blast rocking out while I as a fan revel in the moment.
    #CourageForGord #fuckcancer

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  • May 26, 2016 at 10:05 am
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    #4 No bitching about where the summer tour is or isn’t going. That email The Hip sent out could have easily said “we need to take a break for a bit”. Instead it gave every Hip fan and band member what they need. Each other. I’m a very proud Buffalo, NY based fan and sure I’d love it if they came to my backyard to play. But if they said “hey we can only do one show and it’s in (Insert Province name 500 miles away from me)” well then I need to decide if I can pause family, work, life obligations and go. If not wish everyone well and say some prayers (or whatever your preference is) for Gord. That simple. We are lucky to have such amazing music and people to celebrate.

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  • May 26, 2016 at 10:25 am
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    How about we just celebrate. A band that has meant so much to so many deserves a celebration. And what exactly should we celebrate? The music, of course! Whether you can attend a final show or whether you can just play those songs that meant everything to you throughout your life, lift it up. Play it loud and proud. Those deep tracks you haven’t thought of in eons? Pull them out. The Hip is OUR band and we will never forget that.

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  • May 26, 2016 at 11:09 am
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    Hi Alan. I’m going to disagree with you on #3. Crying is a normal emotional response to sadness. And to suggest fans and family to not cry in a sad moment is not cool. Yes live in the moment, enjoy, sing, but also cry. It is human. How many times has a song touched you and made you cry either in happiness or joy or grief? That too is living in the moment. If I am able to see Gord and the Hip this tour I will cry. It’s an inevitability.

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    • May 27, 2016 at 6:30 am
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      Have to agree. Responses that are real, are normal.

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  • May 26, 2016 at 11:20 am
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    As a breast, colon and cervical cancer WARRIOR we ain’t dead yet! He is NOT WAS a legend of music in Canada. That is
    by far enough to be blessed by in life. Fight and Rock on Gord ????

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  • May 26, 2016 at 11:25 am
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    Is there a way to eulogize someone while they are alive, is a celebratory way, politely, as in showing and sharing your appreciation of them WITH them while you can? I think this tour is exactly that, in a certain way. I am not a fan of the way we never seem to collectively display our respect and admiration to an artist until they’re gone. A lot of us don’t even do that with our friends and families! We can lose anyone anytime, whether it’s terminal cancer or a piano falling from the sky or any reason in between. You never really know when it’s coming, just that you know it’s coming sometime. We have to appreciate things while we can in life while we all can! I think it’s beautiful this way so we can know and understand and share and grow from it all, perhaps…

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  • May 26, 2016 at 12:15 pm
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    I don’t agree with #3! Crying is okay, it is strength! We do it out of love, and it doesn’t take away from living in the moment (although uncontrollable sobbing is a different matter). It says, “you matter, we love you, we are on this ride with you”. We can still celebrate, have joy and support Gord as he continues to live a meaningful life, but we don’t need to deny our grief in order to do so!

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  • May 26, 2016 at 12:32 pm
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    I’d add – don’t refer to his “struggle” or “battle” with cancer. This drives a lot of people nuts,.
    When people say things like he “lost hisfight with cancer” it sounds like they didn’t try hard enough… And being treated for cancer is not a fight – it’s submitting to whatever treatments are available to you and just hoping like hell.

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  • May 26, 2016 at 12:36 pm
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    We really should have figured this cancer shit out by now. What a stupid disease. BTW – Love tha ‘Hip!

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  • May 26, 2016 at 1:01 pm
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    Stompin’ Tom never needed the US to be a huge Canadian icon…and neither does Gord Downie and The Hip.

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  • May 26, 2016 at 1:10 pm
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    Respect the new album. Buy it, know it, and be ready to sing it.

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  • May 26, 2016 at 1:11 pm
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    Great post, Alan. Agreed on all points. Number 3 is a tough one though. I was strumming my way through Wheat Kings on the acoustic this morning when my voice started to break. I’m sure my family just thought it was my usual crappy singing but I was actually choking up!

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  • May 26, 2016 at 1:21 pm
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    How about not capitalizing with a clickbait article of cliche rules trying to make yourself sound superior?

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      • May 26, 2016 at 5:34 pm
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        Pretty sure Toronto Gal is not going to offer to pay for your site. oh wait, she just did by coming here and scrolling down to comment. 😀

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    • May 26, 2016 at 8:19 pm
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      Toronto Gal, have you not heard the “Ongoing History of New Music”, or “the Secret History of Rock” ? I’m thinking you have no idea who Alan is. Great post Alan, love your shows.

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  • May 26, 2016 at 1:56 pm
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    About 2….”it didn’t come; it doesn’t matter”…from an American Hip fan

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  • May 26, 2016 at 2:28 pm
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    Completely Appropriate Alan!

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  • May 26, 2016 at 3:37 pm
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    Please please please…do not scalp tickets for these concerts. Buy tickets as a fan of the Hip and Gord Downie, not as a means to profit from other fans. “Courage, it couldn’t come at a worse time” Great post Allan

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  • May 26, 2016 at 4:26 pm
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    Let’s remember that the “fist” of the Hip have five fingers. Much love and appreciation and positive energy to Gord S, Paul, Johnny and Rob/Robby/Bobby

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  • May 26, 2016 at 4:45 pm
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    I went to Chicago last January to see the Hip at the House of Blues – those Americans really loved the Hip even though they really don’t understand half the Canadian lyrical references nor where Bobcaygeon is! I know this last tour will be EPIC!! Can’t wait.

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  • May 26, 2016 at 5:41 pm
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    Can you expand on the bad record contract part for lack of US success? What does this mean exactly? Their label didn’t push hard enough to get their music in stores down there? Just curious as I’ve always wondered why they never really caught on down there.

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  • May 26, 2016 at 6:37 pm
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    #2. In my eyes The Hip is an American success! Chicago embraces them every time they play here. I cannot tell you what effect Gord and the boys have had on my life. All my best Gord!!

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  • May 26, 2016 at 7:38 pm
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    Ive always been a fan..but never saw them…life got in the way…Im 54 and knew they were something special the first time I heard them..very energetic band…As I get older..alot of musicians have passed recently whom I liked…Gord is too young…but those were the cards he was dealt…Im sure Gord will do it his way as he always has..Rock on my friend…Rock on

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  • May 26, 2016 at 8:19 pm
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    Very well said. Media is all over it like he’s gone. Its all about the music and how he is livin’ the dream..

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  • May 26, 2016 at 8:34 pm
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    Thanks, Alan. A tip of the hat for all three rules. As a native western New Yorker, I can say we have embraced the Hip as one of us. (Too Canadian? What does that mean, anyway?) I don’t live there anymore, bu I am in Detroit now, so right next to Windsor. If their tour comes close, I will go and enjoy it as the celebration it is, and save the memorials for a time when they are appropriate.

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  • May 26, 2016 at 9:12 pm
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    Alan — when I heard the news, I wept like a family member had just been given the diagnosis, or like someone has just excised a piece of my country. I have to disagree on point #3. As for the rest, and some damn fine comments, all good ideas. I would add: turn up the hip tracks, and if you’re lucky enough to go to see them this summer, sing at the top of your lungs.

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  • May 27, 2016 at 1:05 am
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    I have to chime in with a complaint about the “no crying” rule. Someone has already mentioned that crying is a completely human reaction and I also believe it’s extremely important; especially with this coming tour. The band has meant so much for so many across the country. We can put on a brave face all we want, but the moment Downie steps off the stage in Kingston, the entire country will be a blubbering mess. And that will be OK. We just aren’t and will never be prepared to lose the Hip this soon or in this way.

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  • May 27, 2016 at 11:14 am
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    Realize how ‘selfless’ this tour is, when Gord could take this time to be with his family, and is choosing to be with his band and fan family as well

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  • May 27, 2016 at 2:15 pm
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    About the crying thing: I’m pretty sure I cried last year when they played a free show at Yonge-Dundas Square, just because they were my first concert ever back when I was 14 in Montreal at the Forum (must have been 1995) and it just makes me emotional and nostalgic. So NOW, with THIS concert, there’s no hope for me.

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  • May 27, 2016 at 4:13 pm
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    I don’t really care if the Hip were popular in the US …. They are our band !!!! The three rules about Gord is great and I think everyone should abide by them …. Let’s make this the best ever Tragically Hip tour !!!! T.P. Droughan …..

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  • May 27, 2016 at 4:17 pm
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    Fuck Cancer! We lose wonderful people everyday to this bullshit. Nothing is scarier than being told you have it. Feel the love of those around you, enjoy what you got and keep trucking while you can. Looking forward to my old neighbors of Kingston rocking my world here in BC. I’m not praying for anything, but hopeful to get tickets to take my family all down to GM Place to watch the Hip! I’m hoping I’ll be around to enjoy it, cause nothing is finer than a Hip live event with family!
    Had a blast at the Pemberton Fest a few years ago.Rock on! Keep my seat warm.
    Cheers!

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  • May 27, 2016 at 4:23 pm
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    #3 is a tough one. I’ve literally cried 47 times since I heard the news…

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  • May 30, 2016 at 2:15 pm
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    You asked so I want add Rule #4 Must Have Fun at concerts. They need our energy as much as we need there music. And Toronto Gal here is your cliche…”If you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all”. Not a free country to be negative when we did not want nor care for your negative comment. Rock on Alan well written rules. TTHP

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  • June 3, 2016 at 1:55 pm
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    #4: Consider “accidentally” spilling overly hot coffee all over a scalper’s crotch. And then maybe you’ll need to go get another coffee, which just might land on yet another dick’s pants. I mean, we’re all so distracted…

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  • June 5, 2016 at 12:47 am
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    I hear you regularly on 102.1 and was reading “the rules”(great hip song by the way) and agree with 1&2 but Three will be very difficult

    Reply

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