Nothing’s as sweet as nailing a subject in the lines of a song. Congratulations to Dave Gunning for a well-deserved win in Hockey Night in Canada’s Song Quest.
The Pictou County singer-songwriter’s “A Game Goin’ On” was already familiar to fans as a track on his recent album release “No More Pennies,” and through the fair bit of airplay it got. The delightful song about our love of the game enjoyed a spirited revival in the contest as Gunning re-recorded a more up-tempo version, adding a bit more punch for his entry.
Co-written with another bright light on Canada’s music scene, David Francey, “A Game Goin’ On” was partly inspired, Gunning told The News in earlier interviews, by his frustration as a fan with the NHL lockout last year. He said he was sick of watching “billionaires fighting with billionaires.”
Right on. Who wants to see a quarrel over money hijack a sport bred into our bones?
Contrast the dynamics of that dispute with the joy of the game described in Gunning’s song: matches in local rinks, or down on ponds and rivers; goals scored with a puck shot through a pair of frozen boots.
Such are the images most of us experienced growing up, where every kid got to be the hero at some point, an exhilarating outdoor activity that’s made winter a lot more bearable.
An interesting coincidence, this song gains new renown just after the release of a book on hockey by our prime minister – which probably made it under the Christmas tree in many homes across the country. Part of the history of the early years as the game became organized, in “A Great Game” by Stephen Harper, details the forces deciding whether it would be largely an amateur or professional sport, who would profit and how.
Somehow, we could have expected that, money tends to put the elbows up.
Thanks again to Dave for a fine tune reminding us that in addition to the Saturday night hockey on TV, we have a game that goes a long way in defining who we are.