I was fifteen going on sixteen when the above scene played out on Due South, all of twenty-one years ago.
I have been a quadcore Hipster ever since.
I've seen the Hip live three times. The first time I saw them live was in 1998 during the Phantom Power Tour, at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom. Earlier that year, I had been falsely arrested on charges of criminal mischief (which were soon dropped in the absence of a case). Less than a month after the case was dismissed, the Hip came to town. Standing near the sound panel during the show, I got a glance at the setlist: the encore was to consist of 'Grace, Too', 'Bobcaygeon', 'Fire in the Hole', 'Inevitability of Death', and 'Locked In the Trunk of a Car'.
But at the last minute, they changed a couple of songs on the encore. Instead of Fire, IOD and Locked, they played 'Little Bones', 'Vapour Trails'.... and best for last, 'At the Hundredth Meridian.'
And it was one of the raging-fast 15-minute Meridians with which they've wowed uncountable fans over the years. Mind absolutely blown. I was on cloud nine for days afterward, saying to myself, So I guess that made it all worth it.
By no means was that the only time the Hip cured a rainy day. For years, whenever I or a friend was going through a rough time, I had only to whip out one of Gord's inscrutable and yet profound lines, such as "there's no simple explanation for anything important any of us do", or "an accident's sometimes the only way to work our way back to bad decisions." Friends who had never heard of the Hip would ask me to describe their sound, and I would describe it along the lines of "Canadian Pearl Jam" or "thinking man's Aerosmith." I don't think there is a rock musician alive today who is as thoughtful or insightful as our Avant-Gord.
Now it's out: he is alive today, but tomorrow, who can say.
There's so much about his situation that makes me terribly sad and disappointed. This could be the end of the Hip as we know and love them; mind you, I REALLY hope that isn't the case, although how they would get on without Gord is anybody's guess. But even if the rest of the band does hold together, we're losing a remarkable human being, one who has brightened so many days, has inspired so many people to keep on keepin' on by his lyrical genius alone. Worst of all, this must be unimaginably hard on his family. It's pretty well known by now that his wife had breast cancer about five years ago, the outcome of which is their business and theirs alone; but one life-threatening illness coming on the heels of another is not an enviable affair for any one family.
I may not be a member of that family, but nevertheless, I feel as if I'm losing a favourite uncle. I've lived by many a cryptic yet thought-provoking Gordism, and I'm really going to miss them. Still, it was heartening to watch a video of his doctor describing his spirits, which remain high, in spite of the "Inevitability of Death"....and just by that he's lifted my own spirits like he's been doing for the last twenty-odd years.
The show's not over yet.
I hope and pray that Gord's family, his bandmates, his friends, and his infinite fans will continue to stand by him whatever may come: for all we know, some miracle of medicine might happen and he might stay with us a little longer than we thought. However long he has, I also pray - and I ask you to pray with me, if you're so inclined - that he will make it through this upcoming tour, that the rest of his time amongst us will be peaceful, and that his command performance for God will be an eternal success.