Today Canada has lost one of its best promoters. Stompin' Tom Connors passed away at the age of 77 years. Growing up as I did, in the 1960s and '70s in Canada, you couldn't miss hearing one of Stompin' Tom's songs. He was everywhere. Stomping his foot in time with his music about anything and everything to do with Canada. Whether you liked his music or not - you couldn't help singing along. Every Canadian could relate to at least one of his songs. And no wonder -- he is credited with writing about 300 of them! He sang about our history and traditions, our sports, our transportation, our work life and our time off.
He was proud of our country and not afraid to show it. He made us proud too. Thank you Tom, we will miss you.
As a teenager I never would have admitted to liking Stompin' Tom's music. It would have been too embarrassing. I had never been a fan of country music, and he certainly didn't sound like anybody else who was popular on the radio. But I couldn't help myself. He was infectious! So even if we were making fun of him, we were still enjoying ourselves and appreciating him in spite of ourselves.
I was particularly impressed with his song "Sudbury Saturday Night". Anybody that would make up a song about the northern Ontario nickel mining town Sudbury was okay in my book! I loved his lyrical phrasing such as:
"The girls are out to Bingo as the boys are getting stinko, And we think no more of Inco on a Sudbury Saturday night."(Inco was, and still is, a nickel mining company that is the main employer in Sudbury). Being from a mining town myself, I could certainly relate to these lyrics! Getting "stinko" (or drunk) has always been a popular thing to do on a Saturday night, especially in a mining town. But not only that, I still think it is a very clever rhyme.
I found this wonderful concert of Stompin' Tom singing Live at the Horseshoe Tavern, thanks to the person who uploaded it today. It's a bit long, but the first song is Sudbury Saturday Night and the last one is My Stompin' Grounds, so if that is all you have time to listen to, those two will give you a great idea of what he is about. I found myself smiling all the way through it.
In this next video he explains to the interviewer how he came to be called "Stompin'" Tom.
He may not have lived to 100 as he hoped, but his songs and his memory will live on much longer in the great big crazy mishmash we like to call Canadian culture.