Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Boot Falls Silent

"Stompin' Tom" Connors, a bona fide Canadian icon, has passed away.  This will likely mean very little to most people outside of Canada.  However millions of Canadians who grew up hearing his folksy, uniquely Canadian songs have lost one of their favorite ambassadors.

Connors was an unlikely legend; a foster child who ventured out onto Canada's highways and byways on his own at the tender age of 14.  Legend has it that he found himself in a bar one evening, just a nickel short of the price of a beer.  As he had his guitar with him, the bartender offered to give him a beer in exchange for playing a song for the patrons.  Connors agreed, and that one song grew into a 13-month contract to entertain at the establishment.

First and foremost, Connors was a staunch Canadian patriot who loved his country as much as he did his music and who sang about the everyman and the things that make Canada, Canada; from Bud the spud from the bright red mud (Prince Edward Island potatoes) to Lester the Lobster (again from P.E.I.) to nickel miners letting their hair down on a Sudbury Saturday Night and, of course, the Good Old Hockey Game.

I recently attended a local OHL game between the Kitchener Rangers and the Owen Sound Attack.  Near the end of the third period, the arena speakers blasted Stompin' Tom's "Hockey Song".  As they did so, I heard a young girl, maybe 6 or 7 years old, directly behind me, happily singing along at the top of her voice:

OH!  The good old hockey GAAAAME!
It's the BEST game you can NAAAAME!
And the best game you can NAAAAME!
Is the good old hockey GAME!  OH!.....

I can offer no better evidence of Stompin' Tom's wide appeal to everyday Canadians from all walks of life than the sound of that girl, young enough to be his great-granddaughter, belting out his seminal song with a huge smile, revelling in all that's best about being Canadian.

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