By Steve Newton
You’ve already heard the bad news, that Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie has terminal brain cancer.
You may have also heard the good news, that he and his band are dealing with the diagnosis the only way they know how: by rocking it out on a cross-Canada tour that kicks off in Victoria on July 22 and ends in the group’s hometown of Kingston, Ontario on August 20.
As someone who feels a close connection to the Hip–my seven-months-pregnant wife was carrying our first child when we saw them play UBC’s Thunderbird Stadium in July of ’97, and I’ve interviewed them seven times–this final bow by Canada’s best-ever guitar-rock band means a lot.
So what I figured I would do on this sunny Sunday in Metro Vancouver, while the tequila and lime-aid is kicking in, is post the first of several audio excerpts from the interviews I did with Downie over the years, between 1989 and 1996. During that time they released their best albums, including Up to Here, Road Apples, Fully Completely, Day for Night, and Trouble at the Henhouse.
My first interview with Downie took place on September 28, 1989, when he was 25, and calling from a tour stop in Brantford, Ontario, or as he noted, “the home of Wayne Gretzky”. That was three weeks after the band had released Up to Here, and at the time I was particularly impressed by the tracks “38 Years Old” and “New Orleans is Sinking”, so I asked him about them.
Have a listen:
Donate to the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research by clicking sunnybrook.ca/gord.