I was kind of surprised how heavily news of Gord Downie’s cancer hit me. I’d mostly moved on from The Hip. I still listened to old favourites from time to time, but I haven’t bought an album since Day for Night.
But The Hip were a huge part of my youth. And I remember the moment I first heard “Highway Girl”. I was in high school, it was late at night during summer vacation and I was listening to the radio, and this song came on. And I immediately wanted to listen to it again. But it was ages before I tracked down a bootleg copy.
It was in the middle of Gord’s double suicide rant that I realized that The Hip were storytellers as well as musicians. I’m still drawn to songs and artists that tell stories. Folks like Corb Lund, Murder By Death. Folks who give me something beyond “verse, chorus, verse.” This realization hit home even further when I recognized lyrics from the live version of Highway Girl in “Locked in the Trunk of a Car.”
I’m still not sure I’ll check out their final tour, but I’m so thankful I have got to see them live.
Don’t you think, babe, you push a bit too fast?
I said slowing down don’t make it last
Yeah, she said a memory will never set you free
Go out and see that world and bring it home to me