Stompin’ Tom Connors is dead. Initial reports indicate natural causes, he was 77.
An icon, legend, inspiration, patriot, champion and part of the fabric of this nation. A fabric, that it seems, Canada has so much trouble looking back at with admiration anymore. There aren’t enough words to describe Stompin’ Tom Connors or the mark he’s left on Canada
The news came down the pipe to Gaspe Broken-Record through Twitter from Stephane Giroux. Steph’s best known for his reporting on CTV in Montreal but to many Gaspesians it would seem like just yesterday that Stephane was our very own ear and eye on the world at SPEC and later Radio-Canada in Gaspé.
— Stephane Giroux (@SGirouxCTV) March 7, 2013
Canada has a rich musical history but few practitioners of the crafts touch Canada as deeply or enduringly as her troubadours. When I use the term Canadian Troubadour I refer to that lineage of musicians who throughout our history, travel/ed the country or continent meeting and learning the peoples and their ways and who use the craft to tell them their own and each others’ stories. Through a mixture of existentialism and folklore they create vivid images that live forever.
So Stompin’ Tom has ascended, no more will his legend be qualified with the term ‘living’. In a very loud Pantheon somewhere his voice joins the great and uproarious musical called history. He joins the French voyageurs, country heroes like Wilf Carter/Montana Slim and Hank Snow, folk legend Stan Rogers and countless others.
We are fortunate that the tradition continues and can be grateful to Tom and the others in the Pantheon for it. Nathan Rogers, (Stan Rogers’ son) is an incredible songwriter and singer and we can count ourselves lucky that he’s made the sacrifice required to continue the tradition. The same can be said for Corb Lund, out of Alberta, another great Canadian storyteller.
Closer to home and more poignantly given the example there’s Dale Boyle, originally from Belle Anse but working out of Montréal these years. Dale’s existentialist visions also drifts into imagination. There’s one track on his album Small Town Van Gogh that I really wish he’d let slip onto YouTube but such is life inside the business. The name of the song is Tom and it contemplates a dream in which he awakens to hear Stompin’ Tom Connors has died and how the media and country would react having seemingly forgotten about him.
“The alarm, rings through my head, and wake to find you’re not dead and gone. Tom, it’s something what’s goin’ on, One thing I noticed today, I didn’t hear you on the radio, And you’re not on the TV screen, Or on the cover pop magazine, Tom was here all along.”
It’s a great album, and he has others. I just broke down and re-bought it, this time on Itunes. It’s fast, easy and a must-have piece of Gaspesiana. I recommend all the artists mentioned. Their work will outlast Nickleback and Avril Lavigne but there’s no mega-bucks in what they do and they can sure use our support and custom.
http://www.last.fm/music/Dale+Boyle/Small+Town+Van+Gogh (Samples included here)