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Thursday, March 07, 2013

R.I.P. Stompin' Tom Connors

Stompin' Tom Connors
Over a decade ago, when I was first really learning about Canadian culture (outside of the high-level stereotypes that we were exposed to in the U.S.), I explored the popular music of this country. And almost immediately, I discovered Stompin' Tom Connors. I have never heard anything like Stompin' Tom: the man had an uncanny ability to make the simplest of melodies memorable, yet the songs were by no means simple, and all were sung with a voice as craggy as the pre-Cambrian landscapes of the Group of Seven. Like the best folk music, they wrapped circles within circles around themselves, and the stories he sang of uniquely Canadian characters were both entertaining and revealing.

Tom got his nickname from his habit of stomping the heel of his left boot to keep rhythm. Famously, he stomped his way through a plywood board during his performances, ending them by lifting the board to the audience and letting the sawdust he had created from it fall like snow.

Stompin' Tom Connors will probably always be best known in Canada for one song - "The Hockey Song", but he is dear to my heart for so many others too.

The kind of man Tom was is communicated in this final letter to his fans:

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.

Sincerely,

Your Friend always,

Stompin' Tom Connors 

Learn about Stompin' Tom Connors, and you'll learn a little more about Canada. He was a true Canadian character and artist, and he will be sorely missed.

Read more about Stompin' Tom on The Globe and Mail

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