On October 17th Gord Downie, lead singer and songwriter of the Tragically Hip, died of brain cancer.

The Tragically Hip (TTH or The Hip) is a band of 5 childhood friends from Kingston, Ontario formed in 1984. They have had 14 studio albums, two live albums, one EP and 54 singles. Nine of their albums reached Number 1 in Canada. They have received numerous awards, did a command performance for the Queen, were on Saturday Night Live, were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2005 and have a strong, yet much smaller, U.S. following.

This band has been a big part of my life and a passion that I share with my husband Dave for over two decades. Realizing that we will not be able to see them live again leaves such a hole.

The biggest gift of watching The Tragically Hip, or any band you love, live is the energy you feel when there is a community of voices singing all the words to all the songs, pumping fists and clapping hands, joined together in what feels like a sea of love.

Over the countless times that I have seen The Tragically Hip I was never disappointed. I was always filled up after leaving a show. I just knew this band was doing what they were meant to be doing.

What is a Soul’s Mission?

In coaching, when I talk about living your Soul’s Mission I am talking about using all parts of what makes you unique in a form of service. Using your personality, skills, gifts, abilities, passions, knowledge and experiences. It also is about understanding what matters to you most, what your values are, and making sure these are aligned with how you are spending your time and with whom you are spending it.

Gord Downie lived his Soul’s Mission.

Gord lived his Soul’s Mission by using his musical gifts and showmanship and never losing sight of what was most important to him. He made sure the truth of that was demonstrated in how he lived. He was:

Loyal – When Gord Downie was diagnosed with brain cancer he and his bandmates made a decision to do an all-Canada tour doing 15 dates in 2016. TTH loved Canada and let them know it.  The photo below was taken as they were heading out on their final tour.

Generous – Gord Downie wrote all the song lyrics for the band but split the royalties 5 ways between each of the band members.  He knew, as in his beloved hockey, that 5 sticks are better than one.

A Storyteller – His lyrics were amazing. Smart and clever. They told stories. They reflected who he was, his experiences and what he loved. Along with the title to this blog, here are some lyrics I love:

  • It was in Bobcaygeon that I saw the constellations reveal themselves one star at a time
  • No one’s interested in something you didn’t do
  • If I had a wish, I’d wish for more of this
  • No dress rehearsal, this is our life
  • You can’t be fond of living in the past ‘cause if you are then there’s no way that you are going to last
  • And one of my all-time favorites is the song, Fifty-Mission Cap. The whole song is clever and tells a great story. I could not pick just one lyric. See both the lyrics and performance below.

Commitment – The Band toured regularly since 1984. Besides the 14 albums Gord did with TTH he also had 5 solo albums. His commitment to Canada came through in his lyrics, his support of other Canadian bands who opened for them and also the work he and his bandmates did as activists with a focus on the environment and the disenfranchisement of Canada’s indigenous people.

Fun – On stage he just made me smile. He would talk rapidly saying nonsensical things that just seemed to make sense. He had his own dance style on the stage. His use of a handkerchief defies description. He was quirky.

No one epitomizes living their Soul’s Mission better than Gord Downie.

I am better for having seen him.

Sound Song Advice

Fifty-Mission Cap

Tragically Hip