Ongoing History of New Music

The Ongoing History of New Music, episode 996: Gord Downie, Canada’s rock poet

It was Tuesday, May 24, 2016. You know how when you land the flight attendant says “It’s now permissible to use transmitting and receiving functions your portable devices” while you’re taxiing to the gate?

I’d just landed on a 14-hour flight from Hong Kong and as soon as I flicked my phone out of airplane mode, it blew up. Emails and texts all about one thing: The Tragically hip had just announced that their singer, Gord Downie, had brain cancer.

At first, this didn’t make sense. Had the jet lag kicked in already? Was this some kind of internet hoax? I mean, this was Gord. He was practically a Canadian superhero. Nothing like this was supposed to happen to him…

But it was true. The emails and texts kept popping up. Dozens, hundreds of them. And we all know how the next 18 months played out.

When Gord left us in October 2017, it was really rough. The best tweet i saw that day was “Canada closed: death in the family.” The country spent the next week trying to explain to the rest of the world how a singer of a rock band had brought an entire nation to tears—even the prime minister. Where else in the world does something like that happen?

The answer is you that you must be a special kind of person: artist, writer, thinker, activist, and poet. This is the story of Gord Downie, Canada’s own rock poet.

Songs heard on this show:

  • Tragically Hip, Poets
  • Tragically Hip, Smalltown Bringdown (Live)
  • Tragically Hip, Courage
  • Tragically Hip, Fifty Mission Cap
  • Gord Downie and the Country of Miracles, The East Wind
  • Gord Downie, Nothing But Heartache in Your Social Life
  • Gord Downie, Goodnight Attawapiskat
  • Gord Downie, The Stranger

The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ 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.

Alan Cross has 38343 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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