Toronto’s most inspiring people of 2016: Gord Downie leads the Hip out for one last encore

His inspirational 2016: Captivated the entire country with a dramatic final tour

Gord is a very private guy, but I think he’s really opened his heart. Seeing somebody face an obstacle as big as the one he’s facing and to actually have it up the quotient of love and joy in his life is incredibly inspiring.

I remember the first time we saw the Hip play was in Halifax. He was really going for it. I hadn’t seen a singer so animated for a long time. The bands that preceded us were pretty much big rock bands or behind keyboards. It was truly an amazing sight. 

We all kind of came up together in the mid-’80s with pretty much little hope of getting signed. Music fans all of a sudden had voracious appetites for their own bands and their own music, and certainly the Tragically Hip was one of those bands that most embodied that. They were very uniquely themselves. And Gord was a very recognizable character. When I see him, and he does his shamanic stuff, his quieter stuff or does his little pantomime, I know who he is. That guy exists in the pantheon of Canadian characters. And I think that a lot of us were trying to create new rules as we went along, and the Hip were very much mavericks in that way. 

With Gord, he’s been one of the guys who has really helped abstract lyrics gain traction. You listen to him and realize how much meaning is emanating from the lyrics even when you don’t totally understand where he’s going. And I think that has applied from the beginning until now with The Secret Path, which is such an emotive piece of work. And I think he’s helped to change the language of poetry and music in this country if not beyond these borders. 

Jim Cuddy is a musician in his own right and frontman of Blue Rodeo. This is the fifth story in our multi-part series on the most inspiring Torontonians of 2016. Yesterday's was roundup of Toronto's most inspiring kids

The full index of our stories about Toronto's most inspiring people of 2016.

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