To Gordie and the Hip, with deepest love.
Gord Downie will almost certainly never read this, but if he does, what I’d most like to say to him is this:
Gordie, baby, I know exactly what you mean.
Well, in fact I don’t and never really did. But I’d love to tell you something special and precious and as dear to my heart as I can possibly get. For years I have heard people discussing what “New Orleans is Sinking” really meant. Mr. Downie (forever “Gordie” to me, although we’ve never met) I need to tell you what it meant to me. Not want, this is a need.
In the early 90’s I was just out of university, typically underemployed, working extremely hard, and struggling to find a way to a career that would sustain myself and my fledgling family. I was working in crop research not too far from where the Great Plains ended, and there was never a day me and my crew didn’t go out into the field without the Hip keeping us company. There were the radio hits, and the songs off the albums that meant just as much to each of us. For me there was especially Bobcaygeon, Thompson Girl, Wheat Kings and Fifty Mission Cap which was the first song I sang to both my kids. But there was particularly a song so powerful and so special to me that it changed my entire life.
My memory is muddled, what’s this river that I’m in?
I was 32. I had a two year old daughter and an unborn son on the way. I was not in a happy place for a guy that wanted nothing more than to be a Dad and a family man. New Orleans is Sinking took a very special place in my life. One day, my ex-wife happened across me out of context just as I was singing, “Hey North, you’re south / Shut your big mouth” and shot me the foulest dirty look I ever got in my life.
The joke’s on her. I wasn’t telling her to shut up. “Now Orleans is Sinking” was a metaphor for my marriage to me. It was going down, and I really didn’t want to go down with it. As my world eroded around me, one of the very basic things that kept me going through literally one of the very darkest moments of my life was the realization that as my marriage / New Orleans sank, I didn’t have to swim it out. I could, and did, take another route through life. It hurt, it sucked at times - and still does on several levels - but I tried as hard as I could to be true to myself.
“Ain’t got no picture postcards, ain’t got no souvenirs,
My baby she don’t know me when I’m thinking ‘bout those years.”
More than just stuff, I left behind a whole lot of hopes and dreams in that time. And I’ve accepted that no one is going to even care about it beside me, so I need to stop caring and move on. No bullshit, this is a man alive because of words you crammed together. More than just alive, I’m trying to make my corner of the world a hell of a lot better than the New Orleans-in-my-mind that I left behind. Not to be confused with the real New Orleans which is definitely on my list of places to visit. I’ll pay my dearest tributes to you once I get there.
Today I’m in a much better place. If you will, my hands are in the river and my feet up on the banks. I’m feeling pretty good. Good enough to scream. That’s okay by me.
I’m definitely sad I won’t see you play live. I won’t go knowing some profiteering fuckbot scalper took advantage of us. Gordie, please understand that my heart’s there. My heart will be working backstage and doing all it can to ensure you and the boys put on the best show of your lives. I would do almost anything to be there live. But not that.
I don’t swear much on this blog, but fuck the scalpers. Fuck Ticketmaster for their shitty process. Fuck the unadulterated greed.
Please Gordie, you make sure you and the boys put on the show of our lives. Let’s get the last one televised. And I swear to ghod, I won’t be there in person, but I’ll be there in spirit to say thanks for everything you’ve given me. You know you mean the world to Canadians. You mean my very life to me. Rock on.