Across This Land With Stompin’ Tom Connors (1973)
For the annual blogathon celebrating my homeland of Canada kindly put forth by Speakeasy’s Kristina and Ruth over at Silver Screenings, I thought it best to share with those living outside the Canadian borders, one of Canada’s most famous singer songwriters who in 1973 and arguably at the height of his popularity, released a concert movie to our country’s movie screens. It was filmed at the iconic Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, Ontario.
Of course with a concert movie there isn’t a plot to speak of. This is strictly a time capsule to a different era in music, clothes and hairstyles. The show appropriately starts with the camera focused in on the cowboy boot of Stompin’ Tom as it stomps to the music on his custom piece of plywood that Tom would always carry on to the stage when performing. He literally kicks off the show with the ever popular beer drinking party song, Sudbury Saturday Night and moves along to cover many of the songs that the country folk of the times had by now fallen in love with.
Tom is dressed mostly in black other than a red shirt complimenting the black hat, boots, pants and vest. He’s backed by a just two other musicians. One on bass guitar and the other playing electric lead guitar to compliment Tom on the acoustic guitar that is part of his persona. A large part of Tom’s catalogue of songs are of his travels across our great nation while hitchhiking and toting a guitar on his back . Along the way he’d write numerous songs based on the places and people he would see. Song titles like Roll On Saskatchewan, and My Stompin’ Grounds and The Old Atlantic Shore. All of which are songs performed in the concert movie. Also included are the always popular Bud The Spud, Luke’s Guitar and The Man In The Moon is a Newfie. The crowd in the bar that night are having a ball, clapping and stomping their feet to the music while the cigarette smoke drifts lazily and the drinks flow freely.
Plenty of his songs are of a comical nature poking fun at places and the themes that made them famous. The Ketchup Song is a great example of this as he sings of Leamington Ontario. Breaking up the concert movie for the theater goers, the screen turns to a cartoon video of the song. Which in turn leads to many others in the film becoming early examples of the now famous music video. You’ll see footage of prisons when he sings Ben In The Pen as well as some comical silent film footage of lumberjacks as he sings of the trade here in Canada. As an English/French country, Tom also sings in both languages though most of the tunes are primarily sung in English.
By my count Tom belts out 25 songs of Canadiana and takes the time to feature some other singers and artists in the film that I’ll admit to not being familiar with. For those unaccustomed to the music of Stompin’ Tom, there is I think one song that many would recognize even outside of our borders. It’s played in many hockey rinks across the continent during NHL games and the commercial breaks. It’s The Hockey Song which is featured in the movie with some video footage of The Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings and the Los Angels Kings. I believe I saw Bobby Orr in there as well who is referenced in the song. Give it a play as Tom is introduced by Conan O’Brien during this TV appearance.
Many of Tom’s songs are of an East Coast nature and his growing up in Skinner’s Pond, Price Edward Island. Tom and his music was always well known and liked in our home growing up and that’s in part because of our East Coast heritage as well. We had family that we would visit in summers just up the road a piece from Skinner’s Pond. As a matter of fact I visited Tom’s old Stompin’ Grounds just this past summer.
Stompin’ Tom pretty much retired for a number of years before reappearing in the 1990’s, welcomed by the younger crowds who knew the music but had never seen the singer. I saw him twice in concert. Once as a little kid back in the seventies and a second time as an adult once he made his comeback both on stage and in the recording studios.
So while this might not be much of a movie to preach about here on Mike’s Take, sharing the voice and songs of Tom Connors with the rest of you hopefully gives you a look at one of our most popular entertainers within our borders. Canada would mourn one of our favorite sons in March of 2013. Tom was 77 years of age at the time of his death.
There really wasn’t another entertainer quite like him here at home. Tom championed our country in song for years singing of the people and places across our diverse nation. We sure could use another just like him moving forward in these ever changing times. He left us all a wonderful message upon his passing.
Now please take the time to learn more about the great country I call home by checking out the other topics the many contributors have chosen to write about. For a look at my previous contributions to the Canada blogathons feel free to read about The Trap and Captains of the Clouds.