As soon as I read of Stompin’ Tom Connor’s death today, my mind immediately took me back to when I was 8 or 9 years old, or maybe 10, and my dad singing along to “The Hockey Song”. I was mildly irritated, but secretly enjoying the serenade as he tapped his foot to the rollicking beat. I think my father still knows all the words by heart. And as an adult, of course I sing right along.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxJvrD80nJ4
Stompin’ Tom Connors was really a voice of a certain generation of Canadians. There was something about his genuine nature, his kindness, his authenticity and his understanding of community that represented the generosity and fun of our nation. It seemed like he would always be around, an icon every bit as recognizable as Gordon Lightfoot, Ann Murray, Bryan Adams, and others. He wasn’t a pop star, and he didn’t make waves on the music scene; I can’t recall anything prodigal about him in the sense of Justin Bieber. Stompin’ Tom was just as you saw him, and heard him. His music evokes Tim Hortons’ coffee and doughnuts, Bob and Doug MacKenzie, hot dogs and cotton candy at fall fairs, driving across the Prairies and hitting the curves on the highway around Cape Breton Island.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtySGSuKZe8
His is the music of my family trips when I was young, the steady beat livening up the car while the road passed beneath us. It was reliable, constant, and comforting when the country was experiencing tension and conflict. It’s nostalgic, but also hits the right tone when it’s time to relax and kick back at the cottage.
Stompin’ Tom Connors may have left us, but it will be a long time before his music loses its joy, at least for me. For the hard-working, flannel-wearing, cowboy hat-wearing, salt-of-the-earth Canadian in all of us, his music will keep him in our hearts.