Charlie Rhindress takes his reader on a Canadian coast to coast journey as we travel with this drifter man, Stompin’ Tom Connors. Through the research and details of this book, I met the man Tom Connors and the character Stompin’ Tom Connors. After finishing the book I reflected on how strong this man was in the courage of his conviction to stay true to Canada, the country he was so proud of. Stompin’ Tom was a teller of tales both in his songs and in his own, maybe faulty, recollections of his history. Charlie Rhinedress has also given his reader a history of the Canadian music scene from the 1950’s up to the time of Connors’ death in 2013.Stompin’ Tom Connors was a simple man with simple wants and needs. When it comes to Canada, Stompin’ Tom wanted Canadians to develop a “homegrown” talent and identify with who they are and where their roots are. Tom was certainly not alone in this thinking. The late 1960’s and early 1970’s saw the birth of a new kind of homegrown art in Canadian literature, theatre and music. “Margaret Atwood wrote in her 1972 book, SURVIVAL, that a country needs to hear its own voices, if it is to become or to remain an aware society and a functioning democracy.” She was referring to Canadian literature, but this could easily apply to the Canadian music scene at that time.
Reading through the pages of this book we can see that Tom Connors, the man, was a trailblazer and a rebel. He was also a passionate Canadian. In a 2000 story for The Globe and Mail Tom told Brent Hagerman – “We view our jobs, our towns and our lives as drab until we hear someone sing about them. I like to make people’s towns and work and their country come alive for them. When I’m on stage I like to see the looks on peoples’ faces when I mention their towns – wow!”
Give this book a read. It is informative, engaging and thoroughly researched. I enjoyed the details of the life of Tom Connors the man and Stompin Tom Connors the legend. I am happy to know more about this Canadian icon whose songs I grew up singing with my mother and whose songs my family and I have enjoyed singing on Maritime road trips. I encourage you to read this unauthorized biography if you have any interest in learning more about Canadian history and the history of the Canadian music scene. Or if, like me, you share Stompin’ Tom Connors’s love of this great country of ours.
Stompin’ Tom Connors: The Myth and the Man, An Unauthorized Biography by Charlie Rhindress
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