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New Paul Interview “Big Things, Man”
#1
I had to click on this about five different times before it felt sorry for me and let me read the story.

Gord talking cryptically yet positively about what Paul was gonna do in the future sounds exactly like something he would say.

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#2
Will Ry Cooder sing Gord Downie’s eulogy? Will anyone?

More than 15 months after the revered Tragically Hip frontman died of brain cancer, a significant celebration in his honour has yet to happen, or even reach the planning stages. Not that there is a rush. It bears noting that the recent Chris Cornell tribute concert at the Forum in Los Angeles took place 19 months after the Soundgarden singer’s 2017 passing.

As for Downie, on 1992’s At the Hundredth Meridian he laid out his in-memoriam wishes in a verse that explicitly called for Cooder-sung praise and no “acts of enormity.” Despite Downie’s decree, at least one of his bandmates is completely unsure about how to proceed with a posthumous salute.

“It has come up as an idea,” Tragically Hip rhythm guitarist Paul Langlois says, speaking from Kingston. “So far, we’re kind of lost without him, though. We were a consensus sort of band, and he was obviously a strong part of that decision-making. Ultimately, I think it’s just been too heavy a thing to consider.”

The grief and aftereffects of Downie’s death were never going to dissipate quickly for a band that first grouped in high school. Langlois, who joined later, feels as if he’s been with the Hip “my whole life.”

Life goes on, as does Langlois. On Feb. 7, he will appear with John McDermott for the first of the Celtic tenor’s three shows at Hugh’s Room Live in Toronto. Langlois has performed a handful of times since Downie’s death. “I’m not sure I’ve adjusted yet," he says. “It wasn’t our plan – our plan was to just keep doing it.”

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Paul Langlois performs on guitar at The Fillmore Detroit in Detroit, Mich.

GENE SCHILLING/THE CANADIAN PRESS

According to the guitarist, Downie was upset that his eventual death would cause the end of the band. He even suggested replacement singers that could take his place. Last summer, though, lead guitarist Rob Baker dashed any notion that the band would perform without their inimitable frontman. “The Hip,” he declared, "has played their last time.”

Langlois concurs. “We’re not a band any more, but we keep in touch. We’re friends." He says he bumps into Baker in Kingston and drummer Johnny Fay in Toronto. And bass player Gord Sinclair? Langlois curls with him on Wednesdays.

Although the members are no longer together as a performing entity, the band has not dissolved legally or commercially. Downie is still a member in that sense; his share of Hip revenue goes to his children. “We’re still doing little things," Langlois says, “but nothing musical.”

On the one-year anniversary of Downie’s death, the band announced a partnership with Ontario-based cannabis producer Newstrike for a brand of medical herb, Up Cannabis. The names of the various weed strains involved take inspiration from Tragically Hip tunes Morning Moon, Eldorado and others.


On the song Bobcaygeon, Downie mused that it “could’a been the Willie Nelson, could’a been the wine.” The invoking of Nelson’s name is a reference to marijuana, the recreational drug of choice of the country singer and, clearly, the Tragically Hip.

For the wine, a few years ago the band joined forces with Stoney Ridge Estate Winery to develop a red and a chardonnay. According to the band’s website, the former (Fully Completely) has a finish that is “long and velvety, featuring juicy red fruit and menthol." Perhaps an oenophile can assure us that these are desirable, complementary nuances.

Other commercial interests include the Bathouse Recording Studio, a band-owned money-generating facility in Bath, Ont. “It’s tough to get in there,” Langlois says about the busy studio. “I booked it for a session this March and I was just bumped by a paying customer.”

Langlois is attempting to write material for an album of his own. “The only songs I have right now are songs that I rejected from my last two solo records,” he says. “I’m not going to start there.”

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The band is no longer together as a performing entity after Downie's death, however the remaining members continue to see each other in their free time.

ARTHUR MOLA/INVISION/AP

The guitarist has done his own tributes to Downie since the singer’s death. At a benefit for Lake Ontario Waterkeeper last year, he performed Trick Rider with Josh Finlayson and Andy Maize of the Skydiggers. “It’s one of my favourites of his,” Langlois says about the song off the Downie solo album Coke Machine Glow. “It didn’t seem to be a stretch for me to sing it.”

After the coming one-off concert with McDermott, the future for Langlois is unclear. During the Tragically Hip’s final tour in 2016, the terminally ill singer drew Langlois aside.

Downie: “I’m expecting big things from you, man.”

Langlois: “But that’s what we just did for the last 30 years – the big things.”

Downie: “That not what I mean, man.”

So, what did he mean? “He never did tell me,” Langlois says.

As for a Downie celebration, there’s no guarantee it will happen. Or maybe it already did, in the form of the band’s emotional final show at Kingston’s K-Rock Centre on Aug. 16, 2016. Broadcast nationally and streamed worldwide, the concert galvanized a nation. “On that tour, the whole country was saying goodbye to him,” Langlois says. "And he said goodbye to every arena.”

What Downie actually said was "Let’s just see what the morning brings.” So we wait.
1995-02-10 Toronto; 1996-12-12 Toronto; 1998-07-04 Hamilton; 1999-02-22 Toronto; 2000-06-24 Toronto; 2000-12-06 Ottawa; 2002-08-02 Toronto; 2004-10-23 Ottawa; 2007-01-31 Oshawa; 2007-02-02 Ottawa; 2011-07-01 Toronto; 2012-02-09 Oshawa; 2015-02-19 Toronto; 2015-04-15 Oshawa; 2016-08-18 Ottawa
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#3
It's still so hard to believe this happened even after a few years. I don't blame them for not wanting to continue without Gord. It's so "Gord" to say, "Go on without me" but it's also so "Hip" for them to say, "No, we can't do it." I could see them reuniting perhaps 10-20 years from now for a one time performance with a different singer but for now, it's still way too soon. They're totally not like other bands who can replace singers that's for sure.

I'd just love to see them come together and decide to release some previously unreleased stuff. Hope that will happen once they deal more with the grief. Love to the Hip. xoxo
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#4
That is a fantastic piece of writing. I totally believe that Gord wanted the band to go on but how could they? The story of The Tragically Hip. It's heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time.
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#5
I'll say this: I could see the Hip carrying on, but only with a different name, and with a female lead singer.

Why female? Because any male singer will invariably be compared to Gord, and found wanting. A female vocalist would represent such a radical change that it would jolt us out of our preconceived notions and allow the band to continue as a living, breathing entity instead of a "Hip cover band" version of itself. It's the only way forward.

The ideal candidate, IMHO, would be Kathleen Edwards. She has the kickass attitude, the charisma, and the songwriting chops to actually bring it off.

Won't happen. But if it *did* happen, I think it would kill.
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#6
Killer Whale Tank Wrote:I'll say this: I could see the Hip carrying on, but only with a different name, and with a female lead singer.

Why female? Because any male singer will invariably be compared to Gord, and found wanting. A female vocalist would represent such a radical change that it would jolt us out of our preconceived notions and allow the band to continue as a living, breathing entity instead of a "Hip cover band" version of itself. It's the only way forward.

The ideal candidate, IMHO, would be Kathleen Edwards. She has the kickass attitude, the charisma, and the songwriting chops to actually bring it off.

Won't happen. But if it *did* happen, I think it would kill.

I would love to see the four guys continue making music together but I think a re-branding would be important for me to get behind the effort. I don't want to see them revived as The Tragically Hip, either on record or live, with a new lead singer. I agree that a female lead singer would provide greater differentiation from the Downie era, but I would still have difficulty hearing someone else sing Grace, Too and other Hip classics and not find that they suffered (at least somewhat) in comparison to the live versions I know and enjoy. A template for what I have in mind would be Rage Against the Machine dropping singer Zack de la Rocha and returning with Chris Cornell under the name Audioslave. Same band, new lead singer, new name. In this manner they could more readily entertain the idea of a male singer without worrying as much about filling the big shoes that come with the Hip legacy.
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#7
I wouldn't hold it against the boys if they wanted to play together again, but yeah, I'm with KWT & potsie, it's gotta be a different band. TBH I'm surprised Jonny hasn't hooked up with a touring band yet. He, more than the other boys, felt like a touring musician at his core, dedicated to his craft, and pro drummers are in high demand, like rec league goalies.
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