Gord Downie details memory loss to CBC


TORONTO – Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie says his memory is fading as he battles terminal brain cancer.

Downie spoke with anchor Peter Mansbridge in an exclusive interview for CBC’s “The National,” which was set to air Thursday night.

In a preview clip of the interview, Downie tells Mansbridge he “can’t remember hardly anything.”

He admits he had to write “Peter” on his hand so he wouldn’t forget the name of the man interviewing him, whom he’s known for 25 years.

Downie also says he’s fighting his terminal illness, hoping he “can get more time.”

When Mansbridge asks him if he’s “resigned to the direction this is heading,” he says, “Yes, I am. I really am.”

Downie revealed his cancer earlier this year. Over the summer, he and the Hip put on a 15-show tour that ended with a live broadcast concert that drew millions.

On Tuesday, Downie is set to release “Secret Path,” a new solo album with an accompanying graphic novel inspired by the tragedy of Canada’s residential school system. He’s also scheduled to perform at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa on Tuesday, and Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto on Oct. 21.

“Secret Path” tells the story of a 12-year-old First Nations boy in Ontario named Chanie Wenjack, who died in 1966 after running away from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School near Kenora, Ont.

An animated film on the story — accompanied by documentary footage of Downie tracing Chanie’s steps with the Wenjack family — will be broadcast on CBC on Oct. 23.

The interview marks the first time he’s discussed his condition publicly.

Downie tells Mansbridge his memories used to be his “forte.”

“And now I can’t remember hardly anything. I have ‘Peter’ written on my hand. I have a few things written on my hands. And I say that just to be up front, because I might call you Doug.”