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Slowly, sadly and properly

October 18, 2017


If I die of vanity, promise me, promise me,
They bury me some place I don’t want to be,
You’ll dig me up and transport me, unceremoniously,
Away from the swollen city-breeze, garbage bag trees,
Whispers of disease and the acts of enormity
And lower me slowly, sadly and properly
Get Ry Cooder to sing my eulogy,

It feels weird to mourn a public figure, an artist. Even someone whose songs have been in your eardrums for almost two decades. I knew, last year, that Gord Downie had terminal cancer. I watched the last Tragically Hip show, from my couch, with one eye on Twitter, where fans were singing along, trading stories of favorite songs- feeling far away and very close to Canada.

An ordinary, even mostly cheerful morning before I found out, heading to a new books presentation for the morning, to learn about the latest and greatest forthcoming teen titles alongside some of my library colleagues, who are a good bunch.

Scrolling through social media absently…

Knew it was coming, didn’t expect it so soon. Didn’t want to cry outright, because it was more of a melancholy gut-punch. And plus, there was a work game face to wear, presentations about new books to hear.

Kind of glad that today was a training day, with extra time to ride the subway and listen to music. Had to skip a couple songs, the ones I knew would make me cry. Because work, game face, getting on with the day.

Yeah, definitely not going to listen to “Nautical Disaster,” which makes me cry on a good unemotional day.

Then the dream ends when the phone rings,
You’re doing alright he said it’s out there most days and nights,
But only a fool would complain.

Mourning a public figure feels so weird, it’s weird. But no less vivid. I’m not even Canadian. Justin Trudeau paid tribute to a man he knew as a public figure and a friend. (I didn’t look at this til after work, because I knew it would make me cry.) One fan Tweeted “Canada has had a death in the family.” Which about sums up the reaction scrolling through #RIPGordDownie on Twitter… Like watching the last show, having Twitter made me feel closer. But still strange.

It feels strange to mourn a public figure. Never knew the man… only saw one concert, bought a handful of CDs. And listened, and listened.

Feeling sad, and weird about it… because, on balance, my immediate and farther life is fortunate, it’s good. Good people, a good job… sometimes reading the news and getting the national and international not-enough-good-in-the-world blues and terrors… turning the music up, trying to find the sweet mix of chords to keep me going. A lot of the time, that was the Hip.

Full of skills and their frustrations

And Grace, too.

Back shortly to your regularly scheduled book blogging, or the busy absence thereof…

But tonight, going to turn the music up. Sorry, neighbors.

And I really hope Mick Jagger has been taking his vitamins, because damn it, the past couple of years have whisked too many musicians up to the Great Gig in the Sky.


Update 10/23/17: Still listening to music, still feeling weird and sad and may have just bought myself a Jaws T-shirt. Learning more about Gord’s solo albums, which I hadn’t really listened to… a way to trick myself into hearing his voice and having it be new.

Listings in library catalogs still say:

Downie, Gordon, 1964-

Which got me wondering. I looked up the Library of Congress policy on adding death dates to records.  (Click at your own risk- I barely understood it. Made me glad I don’t have to do cataloging, anymore, ever.) So I’m pretty sure it’ll be updated when his last solo album (which I have pre-ordered) comes out in December.



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