Dear Gord Downie…

Dear Gord,

I’m not your typical teenage girl. Most girls will get excited when Justin Bieber, or Ariana Grande comes on the radio, but when my dad plays ‘Grace Too’, or ‘Now For Plan A’ and we all sing along, I know there is no other musician that will make me feel the same way. I have always been the odd ball about favourite singers, all my friends like rappers or pop stars. But I have been able to connect to your lyrics, your words make me think. It’s pure poetry. I can’t believe that that pretty soon, there will be no new lyrics for me to be inspired by. You have a passion, and you are pretty good at what you are passionate about. It is horrible that this stupid thing called terminal cancer has to stop you from continuing what you are amazing at.

You should see my dad when your songs come on in the car. He starts drumming the wheel, and dances like he should be on dancing with the stars. I never see him happier than when he is jamming out to your tunes. Once I came home from school in grade 3. I said to my dad, “Today we started learning about poetry”.  He jumped up, and darted to his book shelf, and grabbed your book ‘Coke Machine Glow’. As an eight year old, it didn’t make too much sense to me, but I still loved it, and I still love reading your poetry, or song lyrics to this day.

One of my favourite memories, is when my whole family was in the car and we were listening to ‘Man, Machine, Poem’. My sister started laughing when you start singing the word ‘monkey’ in the first few lines. We all knew most, if not all the lyrics. Your music brings my family together, especially on those great Friday nights after a stressful week. Your lyrics require me to get further explanation from my dad about what the real meaning is. I always thought he was a genius for always knowing the meanings of your songs. Your music made my dad my favourite teacher, I always loved when a song such as ‘Emperor Penguin’ came on and my dad taught me more about them. When I heard ‘Bobcaygeon’ for the first time I had no idea where it was, so my dad explained to me that it’s in Ontario, and that led to us watching the whole ‘Bobcaygen’ movie/documentary. Whenever I hear one of your songs, there is always a spectacular memory with my family that is linked with it, and it puts a huge smile on my face.

My parents told me the story of when my dad first met you at an interview, and you obviously hit it off. You are one of my favourite teachers, and a good friend. I feel like you understand me. The stories you have told through your music, or just through a conversation to my family members has impacted us all. Thank you for what you have done to my family.

I want my kids to grow up listening to your music. I want them to get as excited as I do when I hear a new song of yours for the first time. But, they won’t hear a new song with your beautiful voice, with your unbelievable words in a new poetic order and that destroys me inside. You are a teacher, a poet, an inspiration, motivational (especially before my soccer games), and most of all; the best musician of all times. I am devastated that horrible brain cancer has to take you over. Gord, you are too good a human being to go through all of this, and I have no doubt in my mind that you will remain a legend for ever, and ever- at least in my family you will.


Claire Pontefract (your second biggest fan, because my dad is number one) Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 10.05.44 PM.png

10 thoughts on “Dear Gord Downie…

  1. Hi Claire Thank you so much for your moving tribute to Gord Downie. Being an ignorant Brit, I had never heard of him, so I googled him and listened to a lot of the band’s music on Youtube. Would you say he’s a Canadian Springsteen or is that just plain insulting? Like you, I’m really into poetry so I hope his lyrics will inspire you to always have a notebook to hand to write your observations, thoughts and ideas on anything you see, think or feel. It really works for me. I also hope you’ll all be able to see the band in action this year as it looks like they’re planning a tour. That’ll be an unfortgettable night. x

  2. Beautiful Claire! Such a heartfelt tribute to the creative mind of the great Gord Downie! Love your sensitivity, your ability to convey your emotions/feelings but, most importantly, I love your appreciation of your family memories and the obvious love and admiration you have for your truly special Dad! I know you will do your part to keep Gord Downie’s poetry and music alive for a long, long time.

  3. Thank you for writing this, Claire, now almost 4 years ago. Thank you for appreciating the “fine wine for all” that is the product of this man and his friends. It’s a testament to Gord Downie’s superhuman character that he fueled in you, your father, and so many of us, love for one another and the world around us. The greatness of his band transcended the music and stretched into how they interacted with all of us, their good works, their humility. That’s one of the things that places The Tragically Hip in a class of their own. And speaking of children’s first songs: My wife smiled and shook her head lovingly when she heard TTH lullabies emanating from our car stereo a month before our child was born this past (U.S.) Thanksgiving. “The kids don’t get it” doesn’t seem to apply in your household and won’t be something you hear in ours when it comes The Hip and the late, great Gordon Edgar Downie! Best to you from Minnesota!

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