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Toronto Mayor John Tory has deemed today The Tragically Hip Day and we couldn’t think of a more fitting tribute ahead of the band’s final three Toronto shows.
When news broke this past May that Hip frontman Gord Downie had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, the band announced they would be hitting the road this summer for a final tour across Canada. Tickets for the 11-date Man Made Machine Poem Tour sold out in minutes, with a portion of the ticket sales going to the Gord Downie Fund For Brain Cancer Research.
To celebrate today’s announcement, the staff at Sunnybrook Hospital where Downie has been receiving treatment recorded and posted a video of its staff and patients performing The Hip’s “Courage.” The video is a ‘thank you’ to all those who have donated to Downie’s fund, also acting as a certainty that we won’t make it through ‘The Tragically Hip Day’ without tears.
Over their three-decade career, The Tragically Hip have released 13 studio albums, two live albums, won 14 JUNO Awards and have been inducted into Canada’s Music Hall of Fame and Canada’s Walk of Fame.
Back in 2000, The Hip were in the Much studios for their iconic Intimate and Interactive special hosted by Much VJ Sook-Yin Lee. During the special, a fan asked Downie what he considered the most rewarding aspect of his career, with Downie answering, “I think we would all agree that we got to make a career out of our imagination.”
The poetic frontman went on to say “Our main goal and thrust and heft is to be together and write songs in this strange and shifting environment, so we’ve never had a hard or fast rule, a credo, an ethos or anything,” says Downie. “But when we get together and start writing, we don’t really want to stop.”
The Hip have been considered Canadian music royalty for decades, but like many bands outside the U.S., never reached the same level of success south of the border. When asked by a fan what it felt like to be a massive Canadian icon, Downie joked “I don’t think it feels that different from being unmassive American icons or unmassive British icons.”
The 2000 special, shot just after the band released their seventh studio album, Music At Work, featured the band playing a number of their hits, including “My Music At Work,” “Puttin’ Down,” “Bobcaygeon,” and “Poets.”
Mayor Tory summed up The Hip’s impact on Canadian history well in a message to the band today, saying, “They told Canadian stories in a Canadian way. Their songs were rich with all kinds of references to our country and to small towns and Canadian things.”
The Toronto Mayor continued, adding, “I just want to say thank you for telling us our stories. You’ve been sort of the quintessentially Canadian band. You’ve told our stories the way we want to have them told. You haven’t really sought to be big on the international scene. You’ve been big at home, very big with all of us.”
The Hip are set to kick off their set of three sold-out shows in Toronto tonight at the Air Canada Centre, playing again on Friday and Sunday. Their final show will be August 20 in their hometown of Kingston, with Much celebrating the band all that day with The Hip On Much starting at 6am ET on Saturday, August 20.