The New York Times on Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip

The news about Gord Downie’s incurable brain cancer is not only national news, but it’s also attracting international attention. Even the New York Times had a feature.

The Tragically Hip, the Canadian rock band, announced Tuesday that its lead singer, Gord Downie, had been given a diagnosis of terminal brain cancer. But doctors have cleared Mr. Downie to go on tour for a series of summer concerts.

“This feels like the right thing to do now, for Gord, and for all of us,” the Hip said in the statement on its website.

Mr. Downie, 52, is a household name in Canada, and the news of his illness quickly lit up social media, to the puzzlement of some beyond the country’s border.

As the frontman and lyricist for the group fondly known as “Canada’s band,” he writes songs that are rooted in his experience of and love for his country.

That has earned the band thousands of fans, including Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, who pinned a statement honoring Mr. Downie to the top of his Twitter page on Tuesday.

A magnetic live performer, Mr. Downie described his onstage persona to the novelist Joseph Boyden in an interview in Maclean’s in 2009.

“I throw myself on the altar of song,” he said, “and I see my own personal musical life in fast flashes of faces and names and colors and sounds and I get lost in the euphoria of standing up there like Howling Wolf or Otis Redding or David Bowie with a mic in my hand and an audience that’s ready.

Read the entire story here. For a good look at the Hip by the numbers, go here. And whoever came up with that street sign graphic, thank you.

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.

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