Remembering Gord Downie
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
On October 17, 2017, Gord Downie passed away from brain cancer. The following day was one of the saddest days in Canada and a lot of people were affected about this, including Justin Trudeau and Heather Hiscox. Downie’s band, The Tragically Hip, made a lot of songs about Canada and had a distinctive Canadian sound. The band’s heyday was in the 1990s where they had a lot of hit singles and interesting music videos that made them hip. Here are some of the greatest music videos of the band’s early years.
Blow at High Dough (1989)
I remembered this song as the theme song of Made in Canada (a show on CBC that Rick Mercer was in). The song begins with the famous line that Downie says, “They filmed a movie once in my hometown.” The music video of the song involves the band performing in front of a background showing archival footage of the golden age of Hollywood, which part of the song talks about. At one point, it looks as if they are performing in a volcano. Also, each member of the band is showcased.
Downie dances a lot when he performs, and this is showcased in the music video of this song, which is ahead of its time because he looks like the lead singer of Sum 41. It pays tribute to the book The Watch that Ends the Night, written by Hugh MacLennan, whom the song is dedicated to. This is one of the most ’90s songs that I know. Downie can be seen wearing a homemade Boston Bruins sweater, which shows that he is a big supporter of the team. This song can be heard in the Atom Egoyan film The Sweet Hereafter.
At the Hundredth Meridian (1992)
The band tried to make it big in the United States and it did not happen. However, it looks like they do in this music video. Downie takes a picture with a polaroid, and as it develops, various objects including a horse and a chained person are moved with a crane as the band performs. The music video was filmed in the United States. Some of the lines in the song are similar to the lines in the R.E.M. song It’s the End of the World as We Know It.
Ahead by a Century (1996)
You likely heard this song as the theme song of the TV show Anne, and I thought that it was made for the show and the song is made during the band’s early years. The music video begins with a boy being stung by a hornet in a tree, and we see the same person a few decades later being chased by a gang. In scenes where the band performs, the video is made up of frames that are not perfectly aligned. The farm on which the video is set looks like a farm in Canada.
A song about a cottage town in Ontario would be one of the most famous songs of the band. Downie plays a police officer who manages a crowd at a concert in Toronto, and the rest of band is seen as a band called The Constellations. Next, a protester interrupts it and as the riot starts, he sees the constellations that he saw in Bobcaygeon. It ends with the rest of the band including Rob Baker, Gord Sinclair, Johnny Fay, and Paul Langlois playing. On Baker’s guitar, it says, “This machine kills fascists”—a machine that reappears in the band’s last album, Man Machine Poem.