Thursday, March 7, 2013

Gone to better Stompin' grounds

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.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful tribute to Stompin' Tom!
I think out of all the songs...the one I heard the most often was actually an ad for PEI tourism. "8 double zero, 565, 7421"! And if you call it today you will still get PEI tourism!!!
And "The Hockey Song" well...that's a wonderful way his music and pride in our country will continue to touch future generations - just ask my nieces & nephews (ages 4 to 11) - they know who Stompin' Tom is because of the Hockey song - So no worries Stompin' Tom - the torch will be carried.

Phylly3 said...

The Hockey Song will certainly live forever. Bud the Spud is a great one too. I heard that they outlawed it in Idaho! LOL!

Anonymous said...

Hockey Song! And all the rest. Sudbury Saturday Night - because my father introduced us to Stompin' Tom - after retiring from the Navy,Dad had a second career as area engineer just outside Sudbury. And he appreciated Tom's Canadianism.

Though I've read that Mr. Connors was known as a country singer, I see him as a true folk singer and musical interpreter of wide-ranging, local history.


pi said...

Sigh. I did not know he had died! Your wonderful post brought up great memories. Loved his songs, especially "Sudbury Saturday Night"- having visited there, it makes it that much more real. Oh, and the songs about potatoes and the one about tomatoes. He captured a quintessential Canada that few care to notice or celebrate.

I saw him at the Mariposa Folk Festival on Toronto Islands many decades ago. Brought his own plywood for stomping on. :). He was a total breath of fresh air and a light in Canadian life. I will miss him.

Thanks for this lovely tribute!

Phylly3 said...

@fitzg - You are right that he is a true "folk" singer. That is what made him so likeable - He was just one of the folks!

@pi - You are very welcome. I wish I had been able to see him perform Live. I just found out that he actually visited our little town once! I'm sure I don't know where I was at the time! What a missed opportunity!