Accessibility/Mobile Features
Skip Navigation
Skip to Content
Editorial News
Opinion
Classified Sites

Brandon Sun - PRINT EDITION

O for Connors

Stompin’ Tom Connors in concert at Winnipeg’s Pantages Playhouse in the early-’90s.

Enlarge Image

Stompin’ Tom Connors in concert at Winnipeg’s Pantages Playhouse in the early-’90s. (JAMES O’CONNOR / FILE)

I was going to let others speak about Stompin’ Tom Connors.

After all, following his passing into the great doughnut shop in the sky on March 6 at the age of 77, there was plenty said and even more written.

I always admired Connors. He wrote catchy songs about everyday tings. Yes, tings. He had a reputation as a fierce Canadian, who was a little rough around the edges.

Much like myself.

He drank. I drank. He smoked. I smoked.

He had a practical, straight-up view on life and death.

You live. You die.

He ended up in many of the country’s smaller towns after passing through the big cities. I ended up in Brandon. Grew up in Montreal.

And as I read in the Globe and Mail, Connors was tough to the very end, as he hadn’t sought treatment for his terminal renal disease.

He even helped plan last week’s memorial/fundraiser for the homeless and wrote a final letter to his fans, imploring them to "keep the Maple Leaf flying high" and reminding them that "this great country kept me inspired with its beauty, character, and spirit …"

And he wore a black hat.

I always wore a black hat. Do so, metaphorically, to this day.

Bottom line? Tom was an everyman. And while every man — or woman — didn’t often care for his hastily carved compositions celebrating a number of Canadian institutions.

Such as hockey:

•"OH! The good ol’ Hockey game, is the best game you can name/ And the best game you can name, is the good ol’ hockey game."

Potatoes:

• "It’s Bud the spud from the bright red mud/ Rollin’ down the highway smiling."

And, of course, drinking and its fatal attraction to any small Canuck town:

• "The girls are out to bingo and the boys are gettin’ stinko/ And we think no more of Inco on a Sudbury Saturday night."

His music — a simplistic 4/4 signature and shamelessly innocent arrangements and lyrics — was something to dance to, to lean a chair back to or to simply lend an ear to.

Fans of Stompin’ Tom Connors gathered at the Memorial Centre in Peterborough, Ont., Wednesday evening to pay their respects.

That same day, I was reading a piece from a once local writer now all caught up in a large western Canadian publishing chain that has bought  — and gutted — many local community papers.

I thought his attempt at maudlin, self-deprecation fell flat.

So I’m reading the latest copy of the Westman City Wheat Journal, I believe it’s now called, and its former editor — a one-time Brandon Sun man in the ’70s who should know better — is talking about Stompin’ Tom Connors.

Seems that Bruce Penton in 2004 wrote a column about some contemporary Canadian musical talent and referred to Stompin’ Tom Connors as being an "embarrassment."

He received an appropriate amount of hate mail and was also refused an interview some time later on with Connors himself.

At a subsequent concert in the Wheat City, Penton says an angry Connors even stapled a blown up image of him to his stompin’ board.

Hope you enjoyed your 15 minutes, there, Bruce.

I have a slightly different and much fonder memory of the 3/4-inch plywood stomping plank.

After taking the folk hero’s photo which you see on this page sometime in the early-’90s, I decided to stick around for the whole show. You see we weren’t publishing the next day, so I grabbed a brown, and settled down for an evening of corny and capricious CanCon country.

And at the end of the show, as the house lights came up and the thoughts were of the next deeper dive, Stompin’ Tom grabbed what was left of his board — his stompin’ board — and gave it a good whack.

And a cloud of sawdust exploded and enveloped the man, as he strode off into the backstage darkness.

That’s how I like to remember my working-class heroes.

Working. And with some class.

•••

Just a reminder about my ongoing efforts to review, reorder and possibly even reinvent much of what we do here at the Brandon Sun.

I am talking to the staff here in all departments to get their feedback and also to my friends. But I also want to hear from you.

The question is simple: What do you want to see more of, or less of, in the Brandon Sun.

I’ve already started that process by switching things around in our stable of freelance writers.

And due to repeated requests from Sun readers — especially the crowd who subscribe and advertise with us — I am bringing back a social page starting next week.

If you have an event that you think would be appropriate for that column, please email us at: opinion@brandonsun.com.

Please email me or snail mail me your thoughts on other changes you’d like to see in the next few weeks.

And I have two $50 Shoppers Mall gift cards to give away as incentives to readers to start writing to me. On March 30, I’ll tell you who won.

Change can be good. If done correctly, it keeps existing readers and attracts new ones.

All this, as we want to be "Your Home Page. In Print and Online."

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 15, 2013

  • Rate this Rate This Star Icon
  • This article is currently rated an average of 1 out of 5 (1 votes).
  • We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high. If you thought it was well written, do the same. If it doesn’t meet your standards, mark it accordingly.

    You can also register and/or login to the site and join the conversation by leaving a comment.

    Rate it yourself by rolling over the stars and clicking when you reach your desired rating. We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high.

Sort by: Newest to Oldest | Oldest to Newest | Most Popular 0 Commentscomment icon

You can comment on most stories on brandonsun.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is register and/or login and you can join the conversation and give your feedback.

There are no comments at the moment. Be the first to post a comment below.

Post Your Commentcomment icon

Comment
  • You have characters left

The Brandon Sun does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. Comments are moderated before publication. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

I was going to let others speak about Stompin’ Tom Connors.

After all, following his passing into the great doughnut shop in the sky on March 6 at the age of 77, there was plenty said and even more written.

Please subscribe to view full article.

Already subscribed? Login to view full article.

Not yet a subscriber? Click here to sign up

I was going to let others speak about Stompin’ Tom Connors.

After all, following his passing into the great doughnut shop in the sky on March 6 at the age of 77, there was plenty said and even more written.

Subscription required to view full article.

A subscription to the Brandon Sun Newspaper is required to view this article. Please update your user information if you are already a newspaper subscriber.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

Brandon Sun Business Directory
Submit a Random Act of Kindness
Why Not Minot?
Welcome to Winnipeg

Social Media