This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.
Thursday, March 07, 2013
Stompin' Tom Connors
Last night a unique Canadian singer/songwriter, Stompin' Tom Connors, died at age 77. His original songs, which celebrate Canada, ordinary Canadians at work and play and what it means to be a Canadian, will live on to help future Canadians understand themselves. His music began at a time when a lot of Canadians were tempted to seek their fortune outside the country, particularly the United States. This was particularly true among those in the entertainment field. I can remember those years when a major concern in Canada was this problem of the "brain drain".
Stompin' Tom's music help Canadians to mature culturally and come to appreciate what it means to be a Canadian. by looking as and celebrating who we really are.
Stompin' Tom was an uncompromising Canadian Nationalist./ Patriot. He refused to follow others who moved to the United States to work. He wrote Canadian country and folk music that only spoke about Canada and the Canadian experience. So as a country singer he ignored Nashville and Texas and heart ache. He preferred Tillsonburg , Sudbury, Mattawa , PEI, the Gaspe. or countless other places. He seldom dwelled on heart ache instead he sang of accomplishments of the common man.. He celebrated Canada, coast to coast to coast.
Below is his song that argues Canadians should stay home and help build our Nation.
Stompin' Tom had connections to my part of Ontario. I have mentioned this before; my friend Dave Lachapelle, who lived with me for several years before he died was Stompin' Tom's father-in-law. His daughter was Stompin' Tom's first wife. I always hoped I might have got to meet the man myself but it never worked out. His son came several times to visit Dave, his grandfather. His mother stilled lives nearby in the Verner area south of my town.
Stompin' Tom wrote about this area, of Northern Ontario.. Below is a song about Big Joe Mufferaw a legendary French Canadian bûcheron (lumberjack) based on a real larger than life person, Joseph Monferrand. He worked the Ottawa River cutting wood in the Winter near Mattawa and taking part in the log drive down the Ottawa River every Spring. Mattawa is to the east of where I live, still a small logging town.
One of the most famous of Stompin' Tom songs was Sudbury Saturday Night, a celebration of the hard rock miners at their relaxation after a week of mining Nickel in the Sudbury area, to the east of where I live.
Timmins , a gold mining town north of where I live was where Stompin' Tom got his "Stompin'" handle because of his habit of keeping time by stomping his foot on the floor while he sings. He got his professional start in Timmins when the bartender of the Maple Leaf Hotel ( sadly now torn down) staked him for a beer in exchange for his singing a few songs. He was five cents short of the 40 cents for a beer. He was offered a long term gig and the rest is history. He later wrote a very special song about the fighting of a fire in the MacIntyre Mine. in that city (I was going to imbed it but EMI is blocking if for copyright reasons. With my server in Virginia in the US I am often mistaken for an American so one could try to access the song, Fire in the Mine if you have a Canadian server.)
Apparently, Stompin' Tom knew he was close to death. He wrote a touching message to his friends and fans.
"It was a long hard bumpy road, but this great country kept me 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.
I must now pass the torch, to all of you, to help keep the Maple Leaf flying high, and be the Patriot Canada needs now and in the future.
I humbly thank you all, one last time, for allowing me in your homes, I hope I continue to bring a little bit of cheer into your lives from the work I have done.
Your Friend always,
Stompin’ Tom Connors"
Canadians will be singing the songs for Stompin' Tom for years to come. I hope some singer/songwriter picks up the mantal and continues the tradition. Stompin' Tom did not sing much about the new Canada with the rich multi-cultural traditions being woven into the fabric of the country. He wrote very little about urban Canada or the Arctic. There are lots of wonderful Canadian experience in need of expression in song.
Thanks for reminding us of who we are and what a wonderful country we share.