R.I.P. Stompin' Tom Connors
Canada doesn’t have many living folk heroes. That’s not to say there aren’t Canadians living today that haven’t accomplished astonishing things for the good of the country and the good of everyone but there are very few that have sat at the tables in every corner and armpit of this massive country or are as well known as Stompin’ Tom Connors. On March 6th, Tom Connors passed away and little piece of Canada died with him.
Stompin’ Tom wasn’t a teen idol like Bieber, was never universally admired like Neil Young, Rush or Joni Mitchell and never wrote lyrics as eloquent as Leonard Cohen. There was nuthin’ fancy about Stompin Tom. His lyrics came from the stories of everyday Canadians and the towns where they lived. His lyrics were plain and direct, as straight up as a double-double at Tim Hortons.
Moreover, he was a patriot. In the message posted on his website this week, Connors says Canada kept him "inspired with its beauty, character, and spirit, driving me to keep marching on and devoted to sing about its people and places that make Canada the greatest country in the world."
His songbook was a virtual atlas of Canada. From “Bud The Spud” to “Tillsonburg” to “Sudbury Saturday Night” (“The girls are out to Bingo and the boys are gettin' stinko, And we think no more of Inco on a SudburySaturday night”). The trademark black hat and stompin’ board went with him everywhere. He could be a cantankerous ol’ bastard too. He had issues with Canadian artists who won Juno awards and lived abroad (“boarder jumpers”) and handed back all six of his own trophies in protest.
And then there’s “The Hockey Song”…a hymn to our national game.
I was coach to my son’s hockey team for years and one day I walked into the dressing room to find all 16 players singing The Hockey Song in full voice while they laced up their skates and taped their sticks…”OH, the good hockey game, is the best game you could name…” Kids - three generations removed from Stompin’ Tom GET IT.
It’s a sad day for Canada.
I am the wind, I am the wind Where I go is where I've been I'm here today and gone again On my way, I am the wind