Chris Aylward

Stompin' Tom, February 9, 1936 - March 6, 2013

All of Canada was Thomas Charles Connors’ stompin’ ground. He was a working-class, no-frills kind of guy, who like to tell stories in song about the country he loved—sometimes pure fantasy, sometimes real people, always Canadian. Here’s his lyrical take on the English-French “two solitudes”:

There wasn’t an ounce of pretentiousness or performer’s ego in the man. With Stompin’ Tom, what you saw was what you got:

The proper venue for a Gordon Lightfoot performance is a concert hall, where the audience connects silently and contemplatively. The proper venue for Mr. Connors was a smoky bar room where people connected by slamming their beer mugs together, hopefully obliterating whatever differences existed between them.

Whether it was slightly cracked love songs or praise of hockey, Saturday night good times and potatoes, Tom’s lyrics seemed to grow right out of the soil of this land.

Tom was also fiercely principled. He thought that the Juno awards were going to folks who weren’t sufficiently dedicated to Canada—and returned all six of his, with this note:


I am returning herewith the six Juno awards that I once felt honored to have received and which, I am no longer proud to have in my possession. As far as I am concerned you can give them to the border jumpers who didn’t receive an award this year and maybe you can have them presented by Charley Pride.

I feel that the Juno’s should be for people who are living in Canada, whose main base of business operations is in Canada, who are working toward the recognition of Canadian talent in this country and who are trying to further the export of such talent from this country to the world with a view to proudly showing off what this country can contribute to the world market.

Until the academy appears to comply more closely with aspirations of this kind, I will no longer stand for any nominations, nor will I accept any award given.

Yours very truly,
Stompin’ Tom Connors

After being snubbed by the smart folks at CBC, who turned down a Stompin’ Tom special and added insult to injury by suggesting he sing a song on the CBC Hockeyville series, Tom’s response was what you might imagine:

As far as I’m concerned, if the CBC, our own Public Network, will not reconsider their refusal to air a Stompin’ Tom Special, they can take their wonderful offer of letting me sing a song as a guest on some other program, AND SHOVE IT.

Way to go, Tom—a round of wild, foot-stomping applause in his memory would be appropriate after that. You’ll be sorely missed, and you took a big hunk of Canada with you.

Now, out of love and respect, or just for the heck of it, let’s sing along as he would have wished:

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This page contains a single entry by Chris Aylward published on March 15, 2013 9:28 AM.

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