Gord Downie’s Final Works Praised by Tragically Hip’s Rob Baker
The Tragically Hip guitarist Rob Baker has described some of the the last works of late bandmate Gord Downie as “pretty incredible.” He also confirmed there’s more to come from the Canadian band.
Downie died on Oct. 17, two years after he’d been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. He’d released fifth solo album Secret Path in 2016, which explored his commitment to issues suffered by Canada’s indigenous people, and trying to find a way to unite all the nation’s communities. The work extended to a TV documentary, a graphic novel, the launch of a fundraising organization and school visits, along with solo shows.
“I thought it was pretty incredible, actually,” Baker told Canoe of his late colleague’s activism, just hours before Downie’s passing. “To know your time is limited and to say, ‘This is what I’m going to do with the time I’ve got left.’ I thought it was a beautiful legacy project for him, to really hunker down and use his time for something positive, to build some awareness.”
Admitting that the Hip hadn’t been positive about their singer starting down the solo path in 2001, the guitarist added: “None of us liked it because he had a voice with us. But I think we all came to terms with it. His records that he did on his own are not Hip records. They’re a very different thing. And Secret Path, it wouldn’t have come out like it came out [as a Hip album], and we’re glad he did it.”
Baker confirmed that there was “lots of ongoing business” for the band, which could include working on unfinished recordings, with two albums’ worth of unreleased material and a half-completed album they’d been working on. He’s also writing his own memoirs. “I have no interest in a chronological history of the band or talking about who influenced us and what our influence on others might be,” he said.
“It’s irrelevant. I don’t really care about any of that. But I do have a lot of really great memories. A lot of funny stories. And I’m full of s---. I learned it from my old man. He was a good storyteller. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”
The Tragically Hip delivered an emotional farewell concert in August. Downie’s posthumous solo album Introduce Yerself is to be released on Oct. 27.
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