Back on May 19, four members of the Tragically Hip were presented with honorary degrees by Queen’s University in their hometown of Kingston. Gord Downie got one, too, but he wasn’t there. Five days later, we heard about his terminal brain cancer.
Speaking on behalf of the band, here is what Gord Sinclair said to the Class of 2016.
Mr. Chancellor, Mr. Principal, Mr. Rector, distinguished faculty, ladies and gentlemen and the graduates of the 2016 class of medicine:
On behalf of my partners in The Tragically Hip, I thank you for this great honour. We are native Kingstonians and formed our band in the shadows of this great institution while three of us were students here. Our Queen’s and Kingston roots do indeed run deep. Twenty-five years ago this July, we set up our gear on this very stage and wrote the bulk of our second album, Road Apples. This place shaped who and what we’ve become. We learned how to perform in front of students and locals alike in campus pubs and local dives like Alfie’s and the Lakeview Manor. We saw early on how music has the power to move people and bring them together, and we followed that course our entire career.
Now, a lot has changed in the time we’ve been making music. Our first record was released on vinyl and cassette. At the time, CDs were just emerging as the next big thing, and all over campus, folks were wearing Sony Walkmans and swapping mix tapes at parties. There were no cellphones, home computers, tablets or Internet. The digital revolution in recording and distributing music turned our industry on its head.
Read the whole thing here.