Back during my days at Crazy Go Nuts University, I was a DJ at the engineering student-run Clark Hall Pub. Along with the other DJs, we played an interesting mish-mash that included AC/DC, the Beastie Boys, Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana, KMFDM and Nine Inch Nails, the Stone Roses and They Might Be Giants, Public Enemy and A Tribe Called Quest, and Dee-Lite and ABBA. We played a fair but of music from Canadian artists, including Spirit of the West, Barenaked Ladies, Sloan, Me Mom and Morgenthaler, Sons of Freedom, Dream Warriors, Snow (hey, Informer was a big deal in ’92)…
…and of course, Stompin’ Tom Connors. Even deep in the era of Lollapalooza, grunge, raves, and Manchester, I could get a mosh pit going on the dance floor with Bud the Spud:
It didn’t matter whether you wore hypercolor T-shirts, flannel, or neoprene goth pants — and the pub’s patrons wore all of those — they’d all hit the dance floor as soon as they heard “It’s Bud the Spud, from the bright red mud”. If I was DJing on a Saturday, I’d put on Sudbury Saturday Night for all the students “gettin’ stinko”.
Even though Stompin’ Tom was a crowd pleaser on the Clark Hall Pub dance floor and small-town bars all over Canada, he never quite got the love he deserved from the mainstream music industry because he was “too Canadian”. At the same time, he wasn’t all too fond of what he called “border jumpers”, Canadian musicians who sought success in America and sang tunes about Alabama. He kept his touring strictly within Canada’s borders and sang about all things Canadian: places like Tillsonburg, folk heroes like Big Joe Mufferaw, the Ontario Provincial Police, and of course, Canada’s national pastime…
…and Canada’s other national pastime, hockey moms!
When Late Night with Conan O’Brien came to tape a week’s worth of shows in Canada, they saw fit to invite Stompin’ Tom as a guest, and he dazzled the crowd:
This tribute to Stompin’ Tom appeared on Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Twitter feed:
We have lost a true Canadian original. R.I.P. Stompin’ Tom Connors. You played the best game that could be played.
— Stephen Harper (@pmharper) March 7, 2013
…and the federal New Democratic Party caucus recorded this tribute:
If you go to Stompin’ Tom’s web site, you’ll see a message that he wrote to be released upon his passing:
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.
Your Friend always,
Stompin’ Tom Connors
There will be a public celebration of Stompin’ Tom’s life in Peterborough, Ontario at the Peterborough Memorial Centre on Wednesday, March 13th at 7:00 p.m.. I expect that the place is going to be packed.
Requiescat in pace, Stompin’ Tom.