Friday, 8 March 2013

Remembering Stompin' Tom

The opening credits are better than the show
When I was a boy, I remember hurrying my parents home when we were out visiting because I wanted to see this show. Well not even the show really, but the opening credits. There was this guy in a black cowboy hat playing guitar, sitting on a chair in studio, and singing. I just loved it. The show was CBC's "Marketplace" and little did I know at the time, but that was my first exposure to Stompin' Tom Connors.

The legacy
Without word of a lie I can honestly say I never owned anything by Stompin' Tom nor listened to him on a regular basis. Yet, it is without question that he was more than simply an entertainer. He was a Canadian singer and songwriter who wrote about Canada. Whether it was the definitive hockey song, the man in the moon coming from Newfoundland or Bud the Spud, he told our stories.

He promoted Canada and Canadian artists. At a time back in the 1970s when he believed Canadian artists were not being supported, he took a stand. When Canadian artists who did not live in Canada were receiving Juno awards, he boxed his up and returned them. He was principled and back up what he said. He did not just talk the talk, he stomped the stomp.

And he was a patriot. He spoke out in defence of Canada at its must vulnerable times, such as the 1995 referendum in Quebec which almost divided the country. It takes courage to appear on national television and take a stand.

The last word
Stompin' Tom left a letter to be published after his death. The following appeared on his official website

"Hello friends, I want all my fans, past, present, or future, to know that without you, there would have not been any Stompin' Tom.
"It was a long hard bumpy road, but this great country kept me inspired with it's 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

What more can you say? Rest in peace Stompin' Tom and thanks for paving the way for all the great Canadian talent out there.

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