“I’m here today and gone again
On my way, I am the wind”
It took me by complete surprise. When colleagues in the office told me Stompin’ Tom died last night, I thought they were yanking my chain. But the man is dead and that’s a big loss: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/music/stompin-tom-connors-dies-at-77/article9400045/
I know, I don’t come off as the sentimental type, and I’m not going to pretend to feel weepy. It’s pretty rare (if ever?) I’ll get misty about people I’ve never met dying. So no tears, but definitely low-grade shock. See, I really liked Connors’ music.
I joined the club late. I was already in my 30s before I gave him a real shot. It was a ‘best of’ album that I decided to start playing in my car. Bemusement gave way to toe tapping, which led to singing along. Before you knew it, that CD was one of only three I kept in regular rotation in the car (the others were Back in Black – also discovered late – and a CD by some guys I know, a band called The Pariahs).
I flat-out loved, and still love, Tom’s music.
I Am the Wind
Sudbury Saturday Night
The Bridge Came Tumblin’ Down
To It and At It
…and a host of other tracks.
I even went so far as to suggest to a buddy he and I do a collection of novellas using Tom’s songs as inspiration. Granted, it didn’t happen, but it was a helluva good idea. I thought I might throw some Johnny Cash in there for the opener of one of the stories:
“Tillsonberg? I shot a man in Tillsonberg, just to watch him die.”
Stories, that’s what Tom’s songs were. So colourful they vibrated.
I’ll be honest: I don’t share the profound sense of patriotism Connors espoused. I was a ‘proud’ Canadian’ when I was younger, but it faded over time. I suppose burgeoning disgust over the way politics is waged in this country – a glimpse behind the clean front doors of the sausage factory – had a role to play in that change. My quiet affection for the Maritimes exceeds my decidedly mild attachment to the rest of the country, despite being a transplant from Ontario.
But that didn’t mean I didn’t like the way he wrote a song for everyone. He found a reason to say something he felt passionately about Saskatchewan and the Yukon, Quebec and B.C. Regionalists and federalists could celebrate his voice: the history he shared, and the infectious music he thumped out of his guitar.
I never saw him play live and I never will. That’s a shame.