Gord Downie died Tuesday night and I can’t shake this feeling of regret.
The Tragically Hip frontman is a Canadian icon and adored by millions, but I can’t stop thinking about how I wished I had a better relationship with him.
If you asked 16-year-old me who Gord Downie or what his favourite Hip song was, he wouldn’t have an answer for you.
He’d know James Hetfield, Marshall Mathers and whatever flavor of the week was flashing across MuchMusic screens at the time, but not Gord.
The Hip weren’t really a thing for a younger Nick. He banged his head to Korn, wailed on the air guitar to “Thunderstruck,” but never sang along to “Wheat Kings” or “Bobcaygeon.”
I think he’d be able to recognize the songs, but he wouldn’t be able to name the song or who performed it.
The Hip were probably played in a hockey dressing room somewhere along the line, but I can’t say for sure.
This trend continued into my 20s. As friends were gearing up for their latest trip to SalmonFest, I couldn’t be bothered.
I regret those decisions now.
Further to that, I regret not having the relationship with the band a lot of my friends do.
I don’t have memories of late nights turning into early morning set to a Tragically Hip tune.
Writing it down makes it seem more akin to jealousy than regret. I want those experiences for myself.
I want to be able to remember belting out “Ahead By A Century” with my buddies around a camp fire.
Unfortunately, I can’t turn back the clock, no one can.
I can, though, reflect on the years when I was paying attention.
I can tell you that Gord’s words helped me through the initial move to Corner Brook. Being in a new city presented challenges.
The Hip, and by extension Gord, got me over some of the initial problems I faced. The loneliness of a small town kid in the city dissipated with his words.
It has only been in the last couple of years where I’ve come to appreciate Gord, the Hip and what the band means to the lexicon of Canadian culture.
I’m a fan in retrospect. I’m a fan who wished he found the band sooner and was able to develop a deeper appreciation for their music.
For me, Gord was like the uncle who lived on the mainland and rarely got home to visit.
You never spent a lot of time with him, but his death affects you the same way.
He was Canada’s frontman and one of its greatest poets.
I didn’t get to spend that much time with you as I should, but I appreciate the time we had.
Thank you, Gord.