The Great Canadian Road Trip: Song #43/250…Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks

“Seasons in the Sun” by Terry Jacks sold over 14 million copies worldwide. It went to the #1 spot on the charts in Canada, as well as the U.S. Terry Jacks won two Juno Awards because of “Seasons in the Sun”. It remains one of the songs that most people associate with being a “Canadian” song. And yet, it was a song that was never intended to be recorded by Jacks. In fact, his take on “Seasons in the Sun” was actually the fourth version that made it to the airwaves. Finally, despite its overwhelming sales success, “Seasons in the Sun” is a polarizing song that has regularly been voted as being one of the most overwrought, maudlin songs in the entire history of modern rock. What is it exactly about this song that so many people love and so many others find repugnant? Let’s find out. Here is the story of a song that is woven into the musical tapestry of a country called Canada. Here is “Seasons in the Sun” by Terry Jacks.

Terry Jacks was born in Winnipeg in 1944 but moved to Vancouver in his early teen years. Jacks always had an affinity for music. While in high school, he formed a band with some friends that was called The Chessmen. This band proved to be popular with the teen crowd on the west coast. They managed to have a few of their songs appear on local station CFUN in the mid 1960s. They even managed to have some of their music make it into CFUN’s Top 40 chart. This entire experience convinced a young Terry Jacks that the potential existed for a career in music. As the 1960s came to an end, Jacks met a young woman named Susan Pesklevits. They eventually married. Along with a few other friends, Terry and Susan formed a band known as The Poppy Family. They had a number of minor hits and one major one with a song called “Which Way You Goin’ Billy?”, which hit #1 in Canada and Top Ten in the U.S. This song was written and produced by Terry Jacks and helped him win his first Juno as a record producer. The success of “Which Way You Goin’ Billy?” was important for more than monetary reasons for Jacks. It was a song that introduced him to the west coast music scene in North America as a producer, as much as it did as a songwriter. Because the song was so well received in the U.S., it came to the attention of a man named Al Jardine. Jardine, as you may know, was a member of a little band known as The Beach Boys.

The Beach Boys asked Terry Jacks to help produce their latest album at the time called Surf’s Up. It was during this time that Jacks came to be working on a song of his own called “Seasons in the Sun”. This was not his own song. Instead, it was a reworking of a song by French singer Jacques Brel called “Le Moribond” or “The Dying Man”. In Brel’s original version of the song, the story involved a dying man who was coming to terms with the unfaithfulness of his wife and best friend. It was a song about accepting the hand that life has dealt the man, as well as being about forgiveness and personal peace. “Le Moribond” was translated into English by American singer and poet Rod McKuen. In America, the first time “Seasons in the Sun” achieved chart success was when The Kingston Trio cracked the Top 40 in the mid-1960s. But the song was never a huge hit for that group, nor did the song make that great an impression on audiences in general. The song would have faded into obscurity if not for the fact that Terry Jacks decided to play with the lyrics a bit to see if he could tell a story that may have been slightly more palatable to audiences in North America. So Jacks changed the plot line of the song’s story away from infidelity. In his version of the song, there still is a man who is dying, but instead of confronting those who have done him wrong, the dying man revisits those who have made a difference in his life…his father, his wife, his friends…and thanks them. Terry Jacks felt that his version of the lyrics made the song more uplifting and positive. He felt it was the perfect vehicle for the band he was working with at the time, The Beach Boys, and offered the song to them through Al Jardine. In a bit of foreshadowing of the song’s eventual legacy, the members of The Beach Boys had mixed reactions to “Seasons in the Sun”. Some, like Jardine, thought that the song had potential as a Beach Boys tune. But other members, such as Mike Love, dismissed the song as depressing drivel that didn’t mesh with The Beach Boys’ cool California sound. In the end, The Beach Boys passed on “Seasons in the Sun”. Terry Jacks still had a soft spot for the song so he produced it himself. The rest, as they say, is music history.

Terry Jacks released “Seasons in the Sun” on his own record label as a solo artist. As we have seen with many others, whenever a solo artist has a huge hit right out of the gate, it either helps set the stage for future success as a musical superstar or else it crushes them under the weight of those same future expectations. In the case of Terry Jacks, he never again came close to achieving the same level of chart success as he did with “Seasons in the Sun”. This did not mean that he became a failure or anything like that. Instead, the experience of having a monster hit sent him spiraling sideways, in new creative and personal directions. One of the first consequences for Jacks was that his singing career came to a close. It wasn’t easy to sing a song about death, day in and day out. The strain took a toll on his marriage (which ended in divorce in the mid-1970s), and it caused Jacks to decide that singing in the spotlight wasn’t where he found the most satisfaction from music. So, Jacks stepped away from performing. He focussed solely on being a record producer. As the 1970s progressed, Jacks produced hit songs for a wide variety of performers, such as Country star George Jones (“White Lightnin’”), Valdy (“Rock n’ Roll Song”) as well as Nana Mouskouri (“Loving Arms”).

However, in the 1980s, Terry Jacks stepped away from music altogether. He was drawn to environmental issues and began creating documentary films. He has received several awards for his contributions to the national conversation regarding Climate Change and other pressing environmental issues which, according to Jacks, were the real pressing issues of our times. While Terry Jacks is regarded by some as a one-hit wonder, it is obvious to see that he enjoyed many successes prior to the release of “Seasons in the Sun” and that he was a respected producer and film documentarian in the years that followed the chart-topping breakthrough of the song most closely associated with his name. 

However, the song,“Seasons in the Sun”, has a much more complicated legacy than the man who had a hit with it. There are those who view “Seasons in the Sun” as being an embarrassment because of how over the top it is with sadness and sentimentality. To those people, having the song play such a prominent role in the formative years of the industry speaks to how barren the musical landscape was in Canada back then. To many others, “Seasons in the Sun” was a very important song in terms of helping to create the vibrant Canadian music scene that we enjoy today. Having such a huge homegrown hit song that did well south of the border (which was always important to Canadians), did much to help establish the music industry in Canada. Along with other homegrown musical acts from the 1960s and 70s such as Ian and Sylvia Tyson, Wilf Carter, Hank Snow, Tommy Hunter, Anne Murray, Gordon Lightfoot, Neil Young, Joni MItchell, April Wine, Trooper, The Stampeders and many others, Terry Jacks became one of the homegrown Canadian musical acts who delivered increasingly distinctive Canadian sounding songs which, in turn, helped blaze a trail for the likes of Bryan Adams and Celine Dion to follow. If you are interested in learning more about how people like Terry Jacks helped us, as a nation, develop a healthy, respected music industry in Canada, I can recommend a great book by my friend, Ian Jack (no relation to Terry Jacks), along with his colleagues Michael Barclay and Jason Schneider called Have Not Been the Same. This book is a thoroughly-researched, expertly told story of how the Canadian music industry grew to thrive in the mid-1980s and how it has managed to adapt to new innovations in the world of technology to continue to achieve success going forward. As much as “Seasons in the Sun” grates on the nerves of many, it was beloved by many others, too. Songs such as this one helped lay the foundation of what has become the great Canadian musical canon. For that, Terry Jacks and “Seasons in the Sun” are deserving of all the respect we can muster. Thanks, Terry. 

The link for the official website for Terry Jacks can be found here.

The link to the video for the song “Seasons in the Sun” can be found here. ***The lyrics version can be found here.

The link to purchase the book Have Not Been the Same by Ian Jack, Michael Barclay and Jason Schneider can be found here.    

***As always, all original content contained within this post remains the sole property of the author. No portion of this post shall be reblogged, copied or shared in any manner without the express written consent of the author. ©2023

The Great Canadian Road Trip: Song #41/250…Blame Brett by The Beaches

A 92 year old lady, her dark-haired son and a ceramic nurse doll sit on a bed in a nursing home room.
My mother and me in her nursing home after she was safely moved in. The doll is named Nurse Joanie and serves as a reminder of her career as an R.N. #MomsAreEverything

NOTE: It has been approximately three months since I last created a post on WordPress. At that time, I had no idea that real life was about to make my music posts seem irrelevant to me, but that is what happened. The full version of this story will be given a proper airing at a future date. But for now, what happened was that I received a phone call out of the blue one Saturday afternoon in May informing me that my 92-year-old mother had fallen and broken her hip. She lives far from where I do. Her fall ended her ability to live independently which meant, among other things, that she could no longer live in her apartment and that she would require constant care from that point forward. That necessitated two different trips down from Ontario. The first was to clear out her apartment and find homes for her possessions. It also meant finding a permanent nursing home for her to live in. The second trip was more to check in on her and see if there were any adjustments needed to her living arrangement in her new location. Fortunately, as you can see from this photo, my Mom is rallying. She has taken to being cared for and has willingly relinquished the burden of looking after herself on her own. Her hip has healed nicely, and she is scooting around the nursing home in her wheelchair as if she was a driver in the Indy 500. All in all, things have stabilized and life is unfolding again as it always had. At least until the next phone call.

For now, that means that I can focus on my writing again and my love of music. So, with that in mind, let’s get back to it, shall we?! Here is today’s latest, greatest Canadian song…”Blame Brett” by The Beaches. Let’s go!!!!!

Like many major cities in the world, Toronto is made up of a patchwork of established neighbourhoods. Each of these neighbourhoods has its own unique history, culture and lifestyle. One of the more idyllic of these in Toronto is an area known as The Beaches. This neighbourhood is home to almost 20,000 residents and sits at the eastern end of the city. The neighbourhood comes by its name honestly. The Beaches community encompasses four different beaches, as well as numerous major parks, shopping districts, restaurants and houses with unique and colourful exteriors. The area is known for its Jazz Festival, the many outdoor patios and cafes that abound, as well as a marked Bohemian attitude that sets it apart from the rest of the city. It should come as no surprise to learn that such an artsy, laid back, geographically beautiful area would give birth to arguably Canada’s hottest rising band, The Beaches. As I type these words, the band The Beaches owns the #1 hit song in Canada with “Blame Brett”. If there was any song worthy of being crowned as the Song of the Summer this year, “Blame Brett” is it.

The members of the band, The Beaches. Four young woman named Eliza Inman-McDaniel, Leandra Earl, Jordan Miller and Kylie Miller.
The Beaches: Eliza Enman-McDaniel, Leandra Earl, Jordan Miller and Kylie Miller.

The Beaches band is an all-girl affair made up of two sisters and two friends. Jordan Miller handles lead vocals, as well as bass guitar. Kylie Miller plays lead guitar. Leandra Earl plays keyboards and rhythm guitar. Finally, Eliza Enman-McDaniel is the band’s drummer. Initially, the Miller sisters, along with Enman-McDaniel, formed a band in 2011 as teenagers called Done With Dolls. Right from their earliest days, these young women set out to make music on their terms. They wrote their own songs and arranged their own music. Even while still in high school, Done With Dolls began making a name for itself in the Toronto music scene and was chosen to write a theme song for a teen TV show called Really Me. Not long after that, Leandra Earl became involved with the band. The group decided to rebrand themselves as The Beaches in honour of the part of Toronto from which they grew up.

The Beaches have had a fair amount of success in the early stages of their career. Their debut album, Late Show, was produced by mentor and role model Emily Haines of the band, Metric (as well as the famous Toronto area musical collective, Broken Social Scene). From this album came two hit singles called “Money” and “T-shirt”. The latter song went all the way to #1 and helped The Beaches to earn their first Juno award for Breakthrough Group of the Year. The following year, The Beaches earned their second Juno award…this time for Rock Album of the Year. In between award shows, the band opened for everyone from The Glorious Sons to the legendary Rolling Stones.Being an all-girl band that plays a brand of pop-rock helps The Beaches to draw easy comparisons to another all-girl band known as The GoGos. You can read all about The GoGos from a previous post here. But, for now, know that The GoGos were the very first all-girl band who wrote and arranged their own songs and managed to have a #1 hit song. Their combination of stage presence, musicianship and determination helped propel Tne GoGos all the way into The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Bands such as The Beaches owe a debt of gratitude to The GoGos for blazing such a trail for them to follow. It wasn’t easy for The GoGos to break into the male-dominated world of rock n’ roll back in the 1980s and it isn’t necessarily any easier today for The Beaches. However, having such strong role models as The GoGos, along with Emily Haines, has allowed The Beaches to find the confidence to write songs about things that matter to them and to perform them with strength and conviction. The song “Blame Brett” is a good example of this.

“Blame Brett” is a breakup song, of sorts. It is about the reaction that some people have to having their heart broken. When such a thing occurs, it is not uncommon for the heartbroken person to lock up their heart to protect it from future pain. Once their heart is secure, relationships become more superficial which often means more sexual. “Blame Brett” is a battlecry that warns all potential suitors what the ground rules are now. As lovely and interesting as any of the band members of The Beaches may be, we are not to make the mistake of falling in love with them because they are not in the mood for love themselves. They have been there and done that and are now on the prowl for pleasures of the flesh. They make no excuses for this attitude and caution against casting aspersions in their direction because, after all, it is all the fault of a guy named Brett who broke one of their hearts. “Blame Brett” is as catchy a Pop-Rock song as I have heard in quite a while. It mines much of the same ground that Taylor Swift regularly writes about but spares us the melodrama in the process. The girls also give a hometown shout-out to the men of the Toronto Raptors with a line that declares that as of now:

“Done being the sad girl

I’m done dating rockstars

From now on only actors

And tall boys from the Raptors…”

I am reasonably confident that “Blame Brett” is going to be the song that propels The Beaches into the mainstream. It is a terrific tune that plays as a feminist anthem. To my mind, it is only a matter of when, not if, this song is featured in a movie or television show and ends up at #1, not just in Canada but around the world as well. The members of The Beaches have done very well for themselves so far and have a very bright future ahead. I applaud their willingness to speak out about matters that are important to them and to do so without calculation and marketing being at the core of it all. The Beaches appear to be a well grounded, very talented band. If this is your first time watching/listening to them sing, then you are in for a treat. They are terrific! I am including two videos for the song “Blame Brett”. The first is the lyrics video (which will help you understand the song and the message it conveys). The second video is the official video release. It will help you get to know the four members of the band. It is also the video which reminds me most of The GoGos. I hope that you enjoy them both.

Thanks for reading. It is good to be back writing for you. As always, I enjoy reading your comments so feel free to reply below with any thoughts you have about this band, the song, The GoGos, all-girl bands or anything else that you may have on your mind. Until then, take care. See you again soon.

The link to the lyrics video for the song “Blame Brett” by The Beaches can be found here.

The link to the official video for the song “Blame Brett” by The Beaches can be found here.

The link to the official website for The Beaches can be found here.

The link to the official website for the Toronto neighbourhood known as The Beaches can be found here.

***As always, all original content contained within this post remains the sole property of the author. No portion of this post shall be reblogged, copied or shared in any manner without the express written consent of the author. ©2023

The Great Canadian Road Trip: Song #40/50: Knocking At The Door by The Arkells

The last time I saw a live music concert was just prior to the start of the COVID Pandemic in 2019. The band I saw that night in Oshawa, Ontario was The Arkells. What a fabulous show! They opened with their current hit at the time, “Knocking At The Door” and never took their foot off the gas for the next two hours. The Arkells are listed as a rock band but they are as much a soul band as anything else. When you listen to any Arkells song, you are apt to hear rock influences, Motown influences, gospel influences and sometimes, a little country, too.

The Arkells

The members of the band include lead singer Max Kerman, keyboardist Anthony Carone, bassist Nick Dika, guitarist Mike DeAngelis and drummer Tim Oxford. The five guys all hail from Hamilton, Ontario, and all grew up on or near to Arkell Street, which is where the band got their name. The Arkells have been awarded the Group of the Year Award at the Junos four times in the past decade. Their albums have gone four times platinum to date. They tour relentlessly. And when they couldn’t tour because of the pandemic, The Arkells were one of the best bands at using social media to maintain their connection to their fans. I have said this before and I will say it again, if any band is ever to fill the musical shoes of The Tragically Hip in this country, it will be The Arkells.

A tweet aimed at No. 45

Many of the songs that The Arkells have released have to do with growing up in a blue collar city like Hamilton. As many of you may be aware, Hamilton is known for making steel that is exported across Canada and the world. Its reputation as a hotbed of the Labour Movement is well earned. Consequently, the members of The Arkells grew up in an environment where being a steelworker was a respected career path. Even though all of the band members attended university at McMaster and could have pursued professional careers had music not called instead, the band has always embraced the working class world in which each member lived as kids. This sense of hometown pride reflects itself in songs that namedrop various neighbourhoods and local landmarks in the city. Their lyrics also contain political themes that tend to reflect the party line of the Labour Movement. A few examples include songs like “People’s Champ” (which rapped the knuckles of former U.S. President Trump while he was still in office), “Champagne Socialist” (which is about wealthy people…usually politicians…who pretend to care about working class people and the struggle they face to make ends meet each week), “Whistleblower” (which is all about the state of journalism today and the need to hold elected officials and large corporations to account) and finally, “Knocking At The Door” (which was written as an act of solidarity with those who were organizing the large “Women’s Marches” that took place in the U.S. a few years ago.

In a bit of an editorial note: I have had many readers of my blog comment about the artists and bands that they say “I promote”. I just want to be perfectly clear that I don’t always like the artists/bands that appear on my blog, as people or as musicians. The reason that I profile them is because I feel that there is a story there worth sharing with all of you. It may be about the way the song was made or about what the subject matter is or about how it affected the artist or how it affected us, as listeners. My ego is not so big, that even if I present artists, bands or genres of music that aren’t to my taste, I can still find positive things to say about them. Having said that, if I am endorsing someone or some band in one of my posts I will definitely let you all know. Just so we can all practice this, let’s give it a try. I really like The Arkells. I think they are an amazing live band. Their concert in 2019 helped get me through those quiet pandemic years. I would happily see them again in concert. By the time they are finished as a band or else I am too old to be going out on my own, there stands a good chance that The Arkells will be the answer to the trivia question: which band have you seen live the most times? Presently the answer to that question remains The Tragically Hip.

The Arkells at Tim Horton’s Field in Hamilton

I hope that you enjoy the song, “Knocking At The Door” that I have chosen for this post. This particular song was filmed in Hamilton at a football stadium that used to be known as Ivor Wynne Stadium and is now Tim Hortons Field. The way they opened the show in their hometown is the exact same way they opened the show that I saw in Oshawa a few days earlier. These guys are awesome. If you think so too, then by all means, check them out further by watching some of their other videos on YouTube. For now, I leave you with “Knocking At The Door” by The Arkells. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the song “Knocking At The Door” by The Arkells can be found here. ***There is no lyrics version of this song. Sorry.

The link to the official website for The Arkells can be found here.

The link to the official website for the city of Hamilton, Ontario, can be found here.

***As always, all original content contained within this post remains the sole property of the author. No portion of this post shal be reblogged, copied or shared in any manner without the express written consent of the author. ©2023

The Great Canadian Road Trip: Song #39/250: Feeling Good by Michael Buble

Michael Bublé is one of the most unique and interesting artists I have yet profiled. He is a singer who has sold over seventy-five million albums worldwide yet has never had a #1 hit song. He is listed as the third most successful Canadian artist of all time behind Celine Dion and Shania Twain, yet he is most known for covering the classic songs of American singers from half a century ago. His most popular album was a collection of Christmas standards. He only ever got into singing when he ran out of chances to develop into a national hockey league player. He actually paid to have his first album released all by himself. On and on the stories go. Michael Bublé has been betting on himself and going against conventional wisdom his whole life. In the end, it has brought him nothing but success. Here is the story of Michael Bublé.

Michael B. as a young man who harboured dreams of a career in the NHL

Michael Bublé was born in Burnaby, British Columbia. He grew up with a love for hockey and was a big fan of the Vancouver Canucks hockey team. At the time, they had a Czech-born player on their team named Juri Bubla who became Bublé’s favourite player to follow and emulate. As a teenager, Bublé’s dream of becoming a professional hockey player came to an end as his enthusiasm for the game outstripped his skill level. For most of his late teenage years, he worked on his father’s fishing boat. The experience of being out at sea for months at a time was physically demanding. He was a boy among men during these outings. But the fact that he was able to hold his own in such a setting and play a productive part filled Bublé with a form of confidence that allowed him to eventually succeed in music. While on land during these same teenage years, Bublé started to attract attention at family events and other local gatherings in his community because of his singing ability. His maternal grandfather believed that his grandson had a gift and paid for music lessons himself. Sometimes, his grandfather, who was a plumber by trade, would offer his professional services in exchange for studio time for his grandson. It was during this time that the musical foundation upon which Michael Bublé would build his career truly began.

Michael Bible making a guest spot on CTV’s Vicki Gabereau Show in Vancouver.

Once Michael Bublé began to gain some experience on stage at talent shows and the like, he decided that a career in the entertainment industry might just be the ticket for him. Once he made that decision, Bublé showed an uncanny ability to market himself, making a series of fortuitous connections with influential people who helped him launch his career. In the beginning, his first break came when he won a local talent show and was disqualified for being underage. Normally this wouldn’t qualify as being a good break, but in Bublé’s case, the organizer of the show believed that he had the talent to be the winner and only disqualified him on the age technicality. That talent show organizer ended up becoming Bublé’s first manager. Bublé offered to work anywhere and everywhere and, as a result, sang on cruise ships, at local clubs, in shopping malls, at business conventions…basically anywhere that there was a microphone and an audience. One of the places he managed to get an invitation to perform was on the Vicki Gabereau talk show on CTV that was filmed in Vancouver. Bublé became a fill-in guest. That meant that he remained at her disposal on an on-call basis, filling in whenever a scheduled guest had to cancel at the last minute. This exposure allowed him to polish his skills as an entertainer and as a live interview guest. From his work with Vicki Gabereau, he scored a job singing at the wedding of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s daughter. It was because of the success he had singing classic tunes such as “Mack the Knife” at the wedding of Caroline Mulroney that Bublé was seen by producer extraordinaire David Foster. This changed everything for Michael Bublé.

David Foster and Michael Buble.

At the time that Michael Bublé met David Foster, Bublé was essentially nothing more than a wedding or lounge singer. He had one album to his credit at this point. But that album was paid for by Bublé on his own dime and was not the result of any record company investing in his potential. On the other hand, David Foster was one of the top music producers in the world, having had success with Celine Dion and many other big name acts. Bublé approached Foster and asked him if he thought he was talented enough that Foster might act as producer for his next album. Foster was lukewarm in his reaction. Eventually, he agreed to produce Bublé, but only if he could raise half of the production budget on his own. In this way, Foster was testing Bublé’s level of commitment and drive. Michael Bublé was not to be denied. He managed to raise over half a million dollars on his own. When he came back to David Foster, cash in hand, Foster agreed to give Bublé a try. This collaboration resulted in an album simply called Michael Bublé, which instantly went multiple times platinum and helped make Michael Bublé a star on the rise in Canada and around the world.

While Michael Bublé has had some success with songs that he has written, such as “Home”, “Haven’t Met You Yet” and “It’s a Beautiful Day”, it is his work singing the classic songs of the American Songbook that has brought him lasting fame. Ever since he was a teenage boy singing at family functions in Burnaby, B.C., Michael Bublé has been at his best when employing a singing style similar to those used by crooners such as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Perry Como and Mel Tormé. Because of his skill at turning back the hands of time for an entire generation of listeners who loved The Rat Pack era music, Michael Bublé’s albums often feature songs that are mostly cover versions of these classic hits. For this reason, he has been able to have a career with album sales cresting over the 75 million mark without having to do so by releasing hit singles of original work. It is an amazing accomplishment in many ways and makes him unique among all performers that I have ever profiled on this blog.

Of the many classic tunes that Bublé has covered, his rendition of “Feeling Good” is the one that has been most enthusiastically received by critics and fans. This song was written in the 1960s for a musical entitled The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd. The song became popular when it was first covered by singer Nina Simone in 1965. However, it really gained momentum for her in the 1990s when it was used in a car commercial and came to the attention of an entirely new generation of listeners. A decade later, Michael Bublé covered “Feeling Good” for his fourth album called It’s Time. That album was Bublé’s second with David Foster and the first to reach #1 on the album charts. “Feeling Good” was the lead track. It is a song about confidence and has come to symbolize Bublé’s vision for himself and his career.

A professional photo of Michael with his grandfather.

It is not by fluke that Michael Bublé has become as successful as he has. He has a beautiful singing voice that is perfectly suited for the niche market of crooning the classics. He has an engaging personality and a winning smile that allow him to effortlessly charm audiences wherever he goes. One of his most important attributes is his work ethic. You don’t get to climb the ladder of success without drive and determination. Bublé’s willingness to pay his dues in all manner of events and locations during the early days of his career allowed others to come to trust him to always show up ready to give his best performance. Finally, perhaps the most important thing that Michael Bublé has going for him is his belief in himself and the backing and support he has from his family. It is hard to go wrong when you head out into the world armed with the courage of your convictions and the love of those who care about you the most. All in all, it is a recipe for success. Here’s hoping that Michael Bublé continues to enjoy a most amazing career. For now, let’s listen to one of the songs that really started him off. Here is his cover of the classic Nina Simone song “Feeling Good” Enjoy.

The link to the video for the song “Feeling Good” by Michael Bublé can be found here. ***The lyrics version can be found here.

The link to the official website for Michael Bublé can be found here.

The link to the official website for the town of Burnaby, British Columbia can be found here.

***As always, all original content contained within this post remains the sole property of the author. No portion of this post shall be reblogged, copied or shared in any manner without the express written consent of the author. © 2023

The Great Canadian Road Trip: Song #38/250…When I’m With You by Sheriff

In this edition of The Great Canadian Road Trip we find ourselves in Toronto, but more than being a specific geographic location, we find ourselves in Toronto during a very specific time in music history. Today’s pit stop takes us back to the time of the “Hair bands” during the 1980s. As you may recall, with the dawning of the 1980s came the beginning of the music video era. It was a time when image was as important, if not more important, than the actual musicianship of the bands being featured. The Glam rock of 1970s era David Bowie transitioned into a new chapter in music history where the rock gods on stage all donned makeup and sported hairstyles that would have turned Farrah Fawcett green with envy. However, not only did the 1980s hair bands have a look, they also sported similar trends when it came to the timeline of their own existence. Whether the band was a US juggernaut like Foreigner, Journey, Mötley Crüe, Bon Jovi, Warrant, Poison or countless others, these bands all followed a familiar musical path that saw them initially make a name for themselves as rockers only to end their careers a few years later in that blaze of musical glory known as the power ballad. All of these bands had big hair, big songs with big sounds, and all of them ended with the big emotive signal flare in the sky that was a power ballad. For Foreigner, it was “I Want To Know What Love Is”. Journey had “Faithfully”. Bon Jovi had “Bed of Roses”, and on and on it went. While not exactly the same thing, there were many fans of Metallica who thought the end was near for their favourite band when Metallica released the Black Album and shifted away from speed metal toward more of a rock sound. For the purposes of this post, we are going to focus on three Canadian bands that were actually the same one band and feature three songs that are actually the same one song, as well. Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to introduce you to one of Canada’s most famous power ballads ever, “When I’m With You”, and the band who created it, Sheriff.

Sheriff: Clockwise from the bottom: Freddy Curci, Arnold Lanni, Rob Elliott, Wolf Hassel and Steve DeMarchi.

Sheriff formed in Toronto in the late 1970s and released their one and only self-titled album in 1982. While Sheriff started out with dreams of being rock stars in the video age, they only managed to have one hit before calling it quits. That hit was a power ballad entitled “When I’m With You”. At the time that Sheriff released “When I’m With You”, they were made up of lead singer Freddy Curci, guitarists Steve DeMarchi, Arnold Lanni and Wolf Hassel, along with drummer Rob Elliott. At the time of its release, “When I’m With You” was only a moderate hit, reaching as high as #8 on the charts and not even cracking the top fifty in the US. The success of the song was to happen years later. In the meantime, the members of the band became disillusioned and decided to split up.

Arnold Lanni and Wolf Hassel left Sheriff to form Frozen Ghost.

Arnold Lanni and Wolf Hassel left and formed a new band that some of you may recall named Frozen Ghost. This band won the Juno Award for Most Promising Group in 1987. While they had a few rock songs of note, they are best remembered for their epic power ballad “Dream Come True”. The song went to #1 on the chart and became a staple of weddings and high school slow dances. Then, the band broke up. Just like that.

Alias: clockwise from lower left is Freddy Curci, Denny DeMarchi, Steve DeMarchi, Roger Fisher and Steve Fossen. Wow! So identical to the original Sheriff lineup!

When Lanni and Hassel left Sheriff to form Frozen Ghost, the remaining members of Sheriff reorganized themselves into a new band called Alias. Just like their former bandmates, the members of Alias started out of the gate with a few rock songs that gained some airplay across Canada, but they ended up their career as a band the exact same way that Frozen Ghost did, and that was with a memorable power ballad. In their case, the song was “(I Need You Now) More Than Words Can Say”. For a brief moment in Canadian musical history, you had Arnold Lanni from Frozen Ghost singing “Dream Come True”, Freddy Curci from Alias singing “(I Need You Now) More Than Words Can Say” at the same time as “When I’m With You” by their original band, Sheriff, made a surprising return to the charts.

As mentioned earlier, when Sheriff had their one hit with “When I’m With You”, the song had its moment on the charts in Canada but never made a dent in the US. However, all that changed the way it is supposed to…by word of mouth and by authentic people power. The story goes that in 1987, a couple of local American radio disc jockeys liked the song and started throwing it into their musical lineup each week. As listeners became familiar with the tune, they began requesting it be played more often. The more “When I’m With You” was requested, the more it gained airplay. The more airplay it received, the greater the demand for it to be played. A cycle of positivity took hold for the song. Before anyone knew it, “When I’m With You” developed a second life and ended up going all the way to #1 on the charts in the US, making it the first Canadian song to do so since Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” 1974. The song was also noteworthy because it was one of the very few #1 US songs to not have a music video to help sell the song. It made it to the top on its own musical merit. Just as the original members of Sheriff had wanted to achieve when they first formed back in Toronto in the late 1970s. With “When I’m With You”, “Dream Come True” and “(I Need You Now) More Than Words Can Say” all on the charts at the same time in the mid-late 80s, people could be forgiven for thinking that power ballads were becoming a big trend in Canadian music. However, upon closer inspection, the truth is revealed that this supposed trend was actually the work of one band lineup that became three, all singing the same basic song.

Regardless as to whether the band name was Journey, Mötley Crüe, Foreigner, Alias, Sheriff or Bon Jovi, there was a very real love from the general public for the power ballads each band produced. All of the power ballads possessed similar storylines and musical structure. Each spoke to the power of love and how reeeeeeeeeeeeeally strong the feelings are that come with it. If you were to check out the viewer comments on YouTube for any of these power ballads, you will find nothing but happy remarks and fond recollections of people having the best and/or most memorable moments of their lives. The comments range from “This was our wedding song”, “I remember this from high school dances and getting my butt grabbed/grabbing butts during the slow dances”, all the way to, “This song was my Mom’s favourite so we played it at her funeral”. Regardless of the specific case, power ballads often help to form the soundtrack of the lives of many people. They may have been cheesy and formula-driven, but power ballads rank as some of the songs that have ended up connecting best with actual listeners and fans. At the end of the day, that is all most bands would have wanted to achieve. It is a legacy I am sure they are proud to have their band name attached to, regardless of whether that band name is Sheriff, Frozen Ghost or Alias. One band. Three names. Three songs that are one song. Thousands of life-defining memories created for fans. One lasting legacy. Job well done!

So, let’s get ready to tease our hair, toss it about dramatically and get our power ballad grooves on! Here are all three songs by all three bands. Enjoy them all. See you next time when we continue on with The Great Canadian Road Trip.

The link to the video for the song “When I’m With You” by Sheriff can be found here. ***The lyrics version can be found here.

The link to the video for the song “Dream Come True” by Frozen Ghost can be found here. ***The lyrics version can be found here.

The link to the song “(I Need You Now) More Than Words Can Say” by Alias can be found here. ***The lyrics version can be found here.

The link to the official websites for Sheriff, Frozen Ghost and Alias cannot be found. They do not seem to exist. Sorry.

Since Sheriff was formed in Toronto, let’s make our pit stop there. The link to the official website for Canada’s biggest city can be found here.

***As always, all original content contained within this post remains the sole property of the author. No portion of this post shall be reblogged, copied or shared in any manner without the express written consent of the author. ©2023

The Great Canadian Road Trip: Song #37/250: Rockstar by Nickelback

Nickelback: Michael Kroeger, Ryan Peake, Daniel Adair and Chad Kroeger.

Nickelback is a Canadian band that first formed in the mid-1990s in Hanna, Alberta. Originally known as Village Idiot, the band consisted of the three Kroeger brothers (Chad, Michael and Brandon) and their friend Ryan Peake. Eventually, Brandon Kroeger bowed out and was replaced by Three Doors Down’s drummer Daniel Adair. That lineup has stayed firm all through the birth of the band that became known as Nickelback. In the three decades that the band has played together, they have had several #1 hits and have had album sales totalling over 50 million worldwide. They have also enjoyed the greatest success when it comes to being a touring band with sold out show after sold out show all across North America. Since the year 2000, Nickelback is the #1 best selling rock band in the world! Just this past year they were elected to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Their success is undeniable. By any statistical measure, Nickelback is one of the world’s best bands. And yet…

Despite their overwhelming success, Nickelback is also a lightning rod when it comes to their critics, of which there are legion. The name “Nickelback” came from the experience a young Chad Kroeger had selling coffee as a teen. The term came from the change he would routinely give back to his customers. To Kroeger, the nickels and dimes that he acquired in tips helped fund much of his early musical aspirations such as buying second hand instruments for himself and his brothers. Because of the fact that he felt that the band was derived from working class roots, Kroeger always viewed it as the band’s mission to reflect that in the songs they wrote and the shows they put on. Thus, Nickelback has developed a reputation for writing songs about ordinary people and universal topics such as love and relationships and the desire for better things in life. Band members have stated that they draw inspiration from other rock bands such as Creedence Clearwater Revival and singers such as John Mellencamp. Critics respond by saying that what Nickelback has really done is to find a songwriting formula that worked for them and are simply repeating that formula album after album, song after song. Because the band has adopted such a formalistic approach to their music, they have found themselves routinely mocked as lacking the true passion that infuses all great bands and songs. In a world where the term “corporate rock” is equated to a lack of musical integrity, Nickelback find themselves the subject of countless internet memes and the butt of many condescending jokes.

A typical Nickelback meme.

The thing about it is that the people most in on the joke are the members of Nickelback themselves. Lead singer Chad Kroeger and his bandmates have made no secret of their songwriting style or how they portray themselves on stage. They have never even remotely attempted to be musical innovators like bands such as Tool or Radiohead. While those bands may be the musical equivalent of gourmet restaurants, Nickelback are quietly content to be the musical equivalent of McDonalds. Churning out verse-chorus, verse chorus hits such as “How You Remind Me” and “Photograph” allow fans to have a sense of familiarity with the band and their music. When you buy a Nickelback album, you basically already know what you are getting before you ever listen to it. Luckily for Nickelback, a great number of fans like Nickelback’s sound and keep coming back again and again simply because the band never changes. A Big Mac and fries is a Big Mac and fries, just as a Nickelback song from one album to the next remains the same, too.

There is no song in their catalogue of hits that exemplifies this philosophy better than “Rockstar”. The boys from Nickelback laugh at their critics from VIP lounges in clubs all over North America. These guys from Hanna, Alberta fly First Class everywhere they travel. Their bank accounts are flush with cash, making each of them millionaires several times over. They all date and/or are married to beautiful women. In short, they are living the rock star dream life and are unapologetic about how they got there. The song “Rockstar” is their anthem. It is a song about how great a life they all have. What helped give this song a somewhat higher profile than it may have had otherwise was the music video that accompanied it. In this video, the band has ordinary fans, along with various celebrities, lip sync the words to the song as it plays. While the song came out in the early 2000s, what makes it an interesting time capsule-esque watch is that it is populated with celebrities who, to a person, aligned themselves with U.S. President Donald Trump during his time in office. In the video, you will find Kid Rock, Ted Nugent and even hockey star turned conservative hero, Wayne Gretzky. It is interesting to note that the song speaks openly of objectifying women and uses women such as Playboy Playmates as examples of their version of what a woman should be. Singer Gene Simmons appears in the video, too. Why that is significant is that KISS is really the band that Nickelback emulates most closely. Simmons has always maintained that the members of KISS are not classically trained singers or the world’s best musicians, but what they are above all else is they are entertainers. So, his presence in this video is akin to him giving Nickelback his seal of approval as entertainers and showmen, too.

There is a market for the type of male-driven view of the world that Nickelback provides for their fans. While it is easy to mock the band as being derivative and corporate, it is something done at the peril of those critics who indulge in such bashing. On the eve of the 2016 Presidential election, I was asked if I was going to watch the election results on television that final night. I replied that there was no use wasting my time doing so because who in their right mind would vote for such an obvious loser as Donald Trump. I looked down my nose at a nation where almost half of the population saw their world through the lens of those who promote male-driven, white views. Consequently, for a while one of the most powerful men in the world was someone who trotted out trophy wives, lived in opulent surroundings and who viewed power as being for personal gain. So, mock Nickelback and their music all you will, their fan base is large and powerful and love them for the simplicity of their music and the comforting worldview the band puts forth with each song from each album. That each song from each album sounds exactly the same is not viewed as a tragic flaw or a weakness. Instead, fans of the band view their consistency as a strength and as something they can depend upon in these turbulent times in which we all find ourselves. If there is any sound of laughter surrounding Nickelback, it is coming the loudest from the band themselves. They know exactly who they are and are laughing all the way to the bank.

The link to the video for the song “Rockstar” by Nickelback can be found here. ***The lyrics version can be found here.

The link to the official website for Nickelback can be found here.

The link to the official website for Hanna, Alberta can be found here.

***As always, all original material contained within this post remains the sole property of the author. No portion of this post shall be reblogged, copied or shared in any manner without the express written consent of the author. ©2023

The Great Canadian Road Trip: Song #36/250: Man! I Feel Like a Woman by Shania Twain

Eileen Twain as she appeared in elementary school.

Please allow me to introduce you to Eileen Regina Edwards. Edwards was born in Windsor, Ontario in 1965. At the age of two, her parents divorced and her mother Sharon moved to Timmins, Ontario where Eileen and her two sisters were raised. Her mother got remarried to a man named Jerry Twain. A few years later, Twain legally adopted Eileen and her sisters, changing their last name to Twain as well. Eileen’s parents gave birth to a boy and then, a short time later, adopted another child bringing the total number of siblings to five. Times were tough for Eileen growing up. Because she was the eldest sibling, she began earning money for the family at the tender age of eight. Her first job was to sing cover songs near closing times in local bars. From this early age, Twain got used to the dual sensations of the thrill that comes from singing on stage and having an audience respond enthusiastically, coupled with the negative attention from men regarding her physical appearance. Eileen Twain knew from an early age that her looks would give her opportunities that she might not have had otherwise, but, all the same, she grew to hate being defined by her appearance. As a teenager, Twain witnessed bouts of domestic violence and often had little or nothing to eat. At one point, she and her mother and siblings ran away and spent time in a family shelter in Toronto. Eventually her mom returned to the family home in Timmins along with Eileen and the rest of the children. When asked how she managed to keep her spirits up during her childhood days, Twain spoke of always having her songwriting to lean on. She has stated that some of her fondest memories as a teen were of times when she would work as a tree planter and would stay in the woods for weeks at a time, alone with her saplings, her guitar and her notebook. At the age of 22, Twain’s parents were tragically killed in a car accident. Suddenly, just like that, Twain found herself responsible for the wellbeing of her four younger siblings. As luck would have it, she was able to find employment at a resort near Huntsville, Ontario called Deerhurst Resort. All four Twain siblings moved with her. It was there that she worked clearing tables in the restaurant and working as a maid. There were no dreams of a music career in her mind when an opportunity arose to sing on the Deerhurst stage. At that time in her life, Eileen Twain was merely trying to survive.

Eileen Twain performing on stage in her pre-Shania days.

The audiences at Deerhurst Resort took to Eileen as she performed cover song after cover song on stage. Eventually, she worked up the courage to start performing some of her original material. That went well, too. The positive reaction to her own songs allowed Eileen Twain to consider a career in music as actually being a possibility. Through her work at the Resort, she eventually was noticed by a Toronto-based record producer/D.J. who thought she had the singing, as well as the songwriting voice to make it in the world of Country music. Before agreeing to record anything, Eileen made a decision that added a layer of mystique about her. She decided to rebrand herself by changing her first name from Eileen to Shania. Twain’s family background was a mixture of Cree and Ojibway so she chose the name Shania because, according to her, it meant “on her way” in Ojibway. The newly named Shania Twain recorded some songs and made connections that allowed her to do some backup singing sessions. Eventually, she made enough contacts within the recording industry that a special session was held at Deerhurst for her. Many talent scouts were in attendance. Out of that session she was given a recording contract. By the time this happened, her younger siblings had grown up and were old enough to head out on their own journey through life. So, for the first time in her entire life, Shania Twain felt free to chart her own course in life. That started with the release of her first, self-titled album. She was, as the name implies, finally on her way.

From those humble beginnings, Shania Twain has enjoyed a career in which she has sold over 100 million albums worldwide. She is one of the biggest selling Country music stars of all time and has won just about every conceivable type of music award along the way in Canada and in the U.S. Her hits include such well known songs as “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under”, “Don’t Impress Me Much”, “From This Moment”, “(If You’re Not In It For Love) I’m Outta Here!”, “You’re Still The One”, “Up”, “Any Man of Mine”, “You’ve Got a Way” and many others including today’s song, “Man! I Feel Like a Woman”.

Shania Twain took the music world by storm, blazing her own path right from the beginning.

One of the things that helped break Shania Twain’s career was something that she initially found distasteful, and that was her looks. Twain came into her own in the world of music not long after MTV had established itself as the new way for musicians and bands to market their music to larger audiences. Music videos were a prerequisite for any new song being released. Fortunately for Twain, she had been hardened by years of experience singing in dive bars and knew well that it was important for her to take control of how she was being presented before the music industry took control of it for her. Twain knew that people thought she was attractive, but she didn’t want to be marketed as a sex symbol and dressed up in all manner of provocative outfits. In her own mind, she viewed herself as a strong, healthy woman and wanted to convey the sense that she was proud of her appearance and was in control of it, too. In a way, she projected a strong “my body-my choice” type of image. In the world of Country music, baring one’s midriff was not what singers traditionally did. But Shania Twain believed in herself and wanted to connect with other women in her audience in a way that told them that they, too, could be in charge of what they wore and how they presented themselves in public. Shania Twain always maintained that it wasn’t up to some arbitrarily conceived societal rules about the nature of femininity to dictate how a woman should feel about herself. If nothing else, Shania Twain wanted women (and men, too) to understand that women had as much right as men to dress how they pleased, go where they wished and have fun on their own terms. Many in the Country music establishment viewed her as a Barbie doll and didn’t take her seriously. But to younger female singers such as Carrie Underwood, for example, the message that a woman could write her own music (thus controlling what she was singing and recording) as well as control her own personal and professional image was very important.

The Deerhurst Resort’s convention centre. A young Eileen Twain watched drag shows on this stage before performing there herself.

One of the ways in which Shania Twain got her point across was via the song, “Man! I Feel Like a Woman”. This song was inspired by her experiences watching drag shows at Deerhurst Resort before she became famous. Twain remembers how transformative it was for the performers to change out of their everyday clothes and don their wardrobe for the show. She says there were many times when, after these drag queens would be fully dressed in their outfits, they would cry out about how much they felt like a woman and how ready they were to perform. To Twain, she likened those memories with her own experiences going from being a hotel maid to going on stage in the Deerhurst spotlight and how emboldened she felt doing so and how differently she was viewed by others once on stage. To be able to leave her old life behind, even just for a little while, and become this “character” on stage was all very liberating for Twain. She has stated that the main message in “Man! I Feel LIke a Woman” is to embrace who you truly are. Because of this, many have taken this song to be an empowerment song for women. Others feel that she is championing Gay Rights and attempting to pave the way for a more inclusive world. Twain says that both assertions are correct, but more to the point, she wants anyone and everyone to be able to live in a world where they can be free to call their own shots in life, as it were. Twain says that her song is a rallying cry in the same way that “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper is a rallying cry for personal freedom, too.

Shania Twain’s answer to Robert Palmer’s music video for “Addicted To Love”.

The other groundbreaking aspect of the release of this song came in the form of the music video that accompanied it. A year or so prior to the release of “Man! I Feel Like a Woman”, British singer Robert Palmer created a stir with the video for his song, “Addicted To Love” (which you can watch here). In his video, he performs in front of a bevy of beautiful women who sway in unison and who all wear skin tight body stockings and bright red lipstick. Many accused Palmer of making the statement that the individuality of women didn’t matter and that they all were really nothing more than sex objects, one no different or special than the next. Twain responded with intelligent humour. She took charge of the narrative by creating a video of her own that was almost identical to Palmer’s video with the exception being that roles were reversed and she was the one singing in front of a bunch of hunky guys all dressed the same. What made Twain’s version such a potent response was how easily she laughed off Palmer’s old school women-can-only-look-a-certain-way attitude. In the video, she constantly changes her outfit and makes the point in words and images that a woman can and should be the only one who determines how she looks. There is power in personal choice. That message, delivered in a humorous manner, helped to propel the video and the song, itself, to the top of the charts.

After the mega success of her trio of albums: “The Woman In Me”, “Come On Over” and “Up!” (where most of her hit songs can be found), Shania Twain retreated away from the limelight to a certain degree. She did hold a two-year “residency” in Las Vegas, but, other than that and few individual concerts here and there, she has mostly kept to her own private life. Shania Twain was married to her producer, “Mutt” Lange, for almost seventeen years before the couple recently divorced. She currently lives in Switzerland and has devoted herself to raising her own children. In many ways, Shania Twain has always placed the idea of “family” at the heart of her life. While she may be viewed by some as the sexy, genre-bending songstress from Canada, the truth of the matter is more that she has always been determined to look after those in her care and to always maintain a sense of pride and confidence for the person she really believes herself to be. For me, I find it easy to respect anyone who has such a well grounded sense of self. So, for what it is worth, I tip my hat in admiration to someone who has experienced much in life but who has given back much in reply.

The link to the video for the song “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” can be found here. ***The lyrics version can be found here.

The link to the official website for Shania Twain can be found here.

The link to the official website for the Deerhurst Resort can be found here.

The link to the official website for Timmins, Ontario can be found here.

***As always, all original content contained within this blog post remains the sole property of the author. No portion of this post shall be reblogged, copied or shared in any manner without the express written consent of the author. ©2023

The Great Canadian Road Trip: Song #35/250: Avalanche by Matt Good ft. the Visual Storytelling of Tim Thompson

The stories behind great songs about Canada.

Hockey has always been a part of my life. There is something almost mythical about being a young boy and having a stick in your hands, your words a fog of vapour in the air, the camaraderie of scoring a goal and celebrating with your friends and teammates. I was never a skater on a league team, but I spent countless days and nights playing road hockey on my street or in boots on the backyard rinks of my friends. All of us had plastic blades attached to our stick handles, all curved and sharpened into scythes in the belief that it made our shots trickier to stop for the goalie. We played under the sun. We played under the stars. We played in the snow. We played on the ice. We played until our cheeks burned red and our Moms called us in for supper. We were our heroes, only tinier. I liked Paul Henderson of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Many of my friends were Guy LaFleur of the Montreal Canadiens. We heard the voice of Danny Gallivan in our heads as we attempted our own version of the Savardian Spin-o-rama. Hockey was our world in the winter in Canada.

The importance of hockey in Canada was captured very well in a children’s book called The Hockey Sweater written by Roch Carrier. This book describes the all-or-nothing mentality of hockey life in small towns. The games all played out on sheets of ice or streets of asphalt by young boys and girls who were emulating their favourite players. But more than this, Carrier’s book showed how important hockey had become in a political and cultural sense. For those unaware, The Hockey Sweater takes place in a small French community in Quebec. It concerns a group of boys who are all fans of The Montreal Canadiens, and in particular, they all idolized one player, Maurice “The Rocket” Richard. In the story, one boy’s Richard jersey develops a tear and needs to be replaced. His mother, who does not care about hockey, orders him a new one from the Eatons catalogue. When it arrives, the boy is horror struck to discover the new sweater belongs to the dreaded Toronto Maple Leafs. That the Leafs were the professional rivals of the Montreal Canadiens was one thing, but, in the much bigger picture of life in Canada, the Toronto Maple Leafs represented English-speaking Canada while the Canadiens represented those who were French. The “two solitudes” of Canada as it existed in the 1950s were laid bare in this classic children’s book. In that light, Maurice “The Rocket” Richard was much more than just a hockey player, he was a powerful cultural symbol of strength to many in Quebec. To wear a Toronto Maple Leafs sweater in Quebec was sacrilege of the highest order. The boy’s mom makes him wear his new sweater to the next game. The boy ends up being shunned by everyone, including his coach and the referee. Sometimes moms just don’t understand. Hockey means everything.

Maurice “The Rocket” Richard: more than simply a hockey player.

Flash forward to a decade or so ago. Hockey Night in Canada is no longer reserved just for Saturday nights. The six-team league of my youth has grown to over five times that number. Montreal and Toronto are still rivals, but generations of poor Leafs teams had watered down that rivalry quite a bit. In the 2000s, the biggest rivals the Montreal Canadiens had were the Boston Bruins. The “Big Bad” Bruins had been a good team since the 1970s and had enjoyed just as much success on the ice as the storied Montreal Canadiens had. In 2012, the two teams were slated to meet in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Bruins were fast and tough and highly skilled. The Canadiens had two exciting star players in all-world goaltender Carey Price and hotshot young defenceman P.K. Subban. I tuned in to watch the sixth game of a tight series with much excitement and anticipation. The broadcast began with the announcement that “the following is a live presentation of CBC Sports”, but then, instead of going live to a rink side commentator or the in-studio host, music began to play and a film started. The film was created by an ex-hockey player turned filmmaker, Tim Thompson. It was a montage of tightly edited images and video clips that showed the entire history of the Boston-Montreal rivalry, including the series up until that point. The images were shown over the soundtrack of a song called “Avalanche” by Canadian singer Matt Good. The song itself speaks of the enormous effort it takes to move through life sometimes (Matt Good battles mental illness and addiction, so he knows of what he speaks). Against the backdrop of the whole history of both teams, the song took on another meaning about the sacrifice it took these players to make it to this point in their careers and specifically, to that point in the series and how much of a battle it is to win in the playoffs. Thompson does a stunningly good job of showing both sides of the rivalry equally. There are images of Bruins legends like Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito, as well as the fiery eyes of Maurice “The Rocket” Richard and the stoicism of Canadiens goalie Ken Dryden leaning on his stick, seemingly without a care in the world. The respect for the history of the teams was only matched by Thompson’s gift for storytelling and his skill as a film editor. While I had always been a fan of Matt Good and the Matthew Good Band, this musical hockey montage took “Avalanche” to a whole new level of meaning for me. To say I was pumped for the game is an understatement. I really, truly believe that you should stop what you are doing and watch this montage before going on. I have watched it dozens of times and get goosebumps with every viewing. It is the very best example of combining my love of storytelling with my love of music and of hockey, too. Simply excellent work! So, click here and let’s see what all the fuss is about.

Tim Thompson

We are linked together as a nation by our love of hockey and linked together in the present because of all that has come from the past. Tim Thompson understands this and has created many other wonderful hockey montage films that capture the enormity of the effort that it takes to win at any level. He was also the man who created the montages for the CBC coverage of the summer and winter Olympic Games. He is a very talented young man who lives in Port Hope, Ontario which is just one town over from where I live in Cobourg. We follow each other on social media. He knows me enough from that to call me Tom. You can watch more of his great work on YouTube by searching for Hockey Films by Tim Thompson. There are dozens. He tends to use cool Canadian songs by great Canadian singers and bands which is just one more reason to love his work.

Singer Matt Good

As for Matt Good, he does not know me enough to call me Tom. Matt Good was born in Coquitlam, British Columbia, and still lives in B.C. to this day. I have always been a fan of his music from his very earliest days when he performed under the moniker of The Matthew Good Band. Songs like “Apparitions”, “Hello Time Bomb”, “Everything Is Automatic”, “Rico”, “Weapon”, “Non Populus” and “Avalanche” all have a place on my own personal playlists. Good has been nominated for many Juno Awards and has won several as part of a band or as a solo artist. Many of Matt Good’s song lyrics contain terrific imagery and pack an emotional punch. His singing voice can be strong and powerful when it needs to be, but it can also be whisper-quiet, too. Good sings with a lot of emotion and plays guitar with a lot of skill. He is one of my favourite Canadian performers and one that I have seen in concert more than once. I would happily see him again, too. On the personal side, Matt Good has had a tough go. He has been diagnosed as being bi-polar and has also battled depression, at times. At one point, he developed an addiction to the prescription medication he was taking for his mental health. He has also experienced health problems that have made touring a hit-or-miss affair in recent years. However, having said that, Matt Good persists. He is currently on a solo acoustic tour and is well worth checking out should he be performing in your area. In the video link below, I will include an acoustic version of Good singing “Avalanche”, so you can get a good sense of how he sounds with just his voice and his guitar.

Music. Storytelling. Hockey. This post combines many of the things that I enjoy most in life. To me they are all important. All three resonate with me on a very personal level, and yet all three things are integral parts of our national identity, too. It is not without reason that an image from the book The Hockey Sweater adorned the back of our five dollar bill for many years. It is also not without reason that when Maurice “The Rocket” Richard passed away he was accorded a state funeral. We are the stories we tell and the experiences we share. It is part of what makes us Canadians.

What a good Canadian garage door should look like.

Although the Toronto Maple Leafs have broken my heart continuously over the course of my lifetime, hope springs eternal once again in my heart as the playoffs approach. Maybe this is the year they will win it all. Maybe, just maybe. However, it is more likely that I will end up crying at the end of my driveway as Gord Downie and his brother, Mike did when their favourite team, Boston, was eliminated that year. I don’t take shots against my garage door anymore, but my neighbour’s kid does. Their pock-marked garage door is every bit a symbol of Canada as is the call of the loon or the red maple leaf.

I will close by telling you all that one time I spoke with Tim Thompson online to congratulate him on the success of one of his montages, and I asked him if, when I die, he would put together a musical montage of images from my life. He hasn’t responded, but if he were to do so, I wonder what my life’s song would be? If you could do the same, what would your song be? What story about you would it tell?

The link to the video for the song “Avalanche” by Matt Good can be found here. ***The lyrics version is unavailable.

The link to the official website for Matt Good can be found here.

The link to the official website for Tim Thompson can be found here.

Since Matt Good is originally from Coquitlam, B.C., let’s go there for our pit stop. The official website for Coquitlam, British Columbia can be found here.

***As always, all original content contained within this post remains the sole property of the author. No portion of this post shall be reblogged, copied or shared in any manner without the express written consent of the author. ©2023

The Great Canadian Road Trip: Song #34/250: The Springhill Mining Disaster by Luke Kelly

Today’s pit stop on The Great Canadian Road Trip takes us to the small town of Springhill, Nova Scotia. Springhill was formed over two hundred years ago. It sits adjacent to the New Brunswick border in the northwest quadrant of the Nova Scotia mainland. It boasts a population of approximately 2500 people today, but at one time well over 5000 people called Springhill home, including its most famous citizen, singer Anne Murray. However, today’s post is not about Anne Murray. Today’s post is about the one thing that put Springhill on the map, and that was coal. At one time, Springhill had multiple working coal mines, employing hundreds of workers from Springhill and the surrounding towns and villages of Cumberland County. The coal mining industry was the town’s biggest employer and was the engine that drove the local economy for well over a century. But, as with many things in life, there is balance. What the coal seams gave to the people of Springhill in the form of a resource-based economy, they took away in terms of loss of life. Springhill is the site of three of the world’s biggest mining disasters with well over two hundred husbands, fathers, uncles, sons, brothers and grandfathers killed in a flash of fire and/or under a wall of stone. The writing of today’s post (Feb. 21st) marks the 132nd anniversary of the very first Springhill mining disaster in 1891. There were two others: one in 1956, and then two years later in 1958. The song we will be discussing is aptly titled “Springhill Mining Disaster” and is specifically about the third and final Springhill disaster. Today’s post is about the history of these mining tragedies and why the third one in 1958 caught the attention of the world, including several famous Irish folk singers who have ended up making this song as much a part of Irish musical culture as it is about the coal miners and citizens of Springhill, Nova Scotia. So, pour yourself a cup of “hot”, settle in and get ready for a musical history lesson that is steeped in heroism and loss. Welcome, everyone, to Springhill, Nova Scotia.

A coal chute in the side of a house.

Like Springhill, my hometown of Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, was built upon rich seams of coal. Even though Glace Bay is almost a four hour drive east from Springhill, we share the same geological foundation. For those who may not be aware, coal is a stone that can burn and give off heat. All through my childhood, many homes in my hometown were heated by coal. These homes would have coal chutes built into the sides of their foundations. These coal chutes resembled cellar doors or, in some cases, mailbox flaps. Homeowners would order a delivery of coal and then would heat their homes accordingly. However, because coal is a non-renewable resource and, more to the point, because it is considered a “dirty” fuel in terms of pollution, coal production in Nova Scotia has become almost non-existent. But at one time, coal was every bit as important an industry in Nova Scotia as the fisheries were.

Coal miners underground at the face of coal seam, the fruits of their labour at their side.

It was also one of the most dangerous industries. Most coal mines are underground mines. These mines often extend for miles beneath the surface of the land (or in the case of my hometown, out under the Atlantic Ocean). Needless to say, hollowing out the earth is an exercise that requires a lot of engineering expertise in order to manage the incredible stresses caused by the weight of the bedrock that remains above the excavated tunnels. Not only are there thousands of tons of weight above the heads of the miners as they work, but another danger lies in the form of the coal itself. Coal gives off methane gas. In such a confined space, methane gas can build up. One spark from an electrical wire or an excavating machine, drill, shovel, etc. can cause the methane gas to ignite which can cause a huge explosion. As well, the air in a coal mine is filled with coal dust, which fills the voids below like a fog. The same sparks that can ignite methane gas can also ignite the airborne coal dust and cause a calamitous explosion, too. So, proper ventilation is critical to the safe operation of any mine anywhere in the world.

Families wait for news in 1891

The first Springhill Mining Disaster in 1891 was caused when coal dust ignited. 125 miners (including child laborers) perished in the blast. This was one of the worst disasters of its kind in the world at the time. The subsequent commission that looked into the cause of the 1891 explosion was one of the first to recommend improved gas monitoring devices within the mine, as well as the importance of proper ventilation and the safe removal of coal dust to the surface where it could dissipate and/or be disposed of properly.

Springhill mine after the explosion in 1956.

The second mining disaster in 1956 occurred when a train load of coal dust was being taken out of the mine to the surface. En route, two of the coal dust cars came loose and derailed. The derailment caused an electrical line to arc. The sparks from the line ignited the coal dust causing a massive, forceful explosion that damaged many buildings at the entrance to the mine. Because the derailment happened closer to the surface than it did to the working face of the mine below, the death toll was minimized somewhat with only 39 miners losing their lives. The bulk of that day’s shift were working further from the surface and survived. They were eventually rescued by specialized rescue teams called dragermen.

Dragermen prepare to mount a rescue in 1958. Many of these men were awarded medals of heroism for their efforts in saving nineteen lives.

The final explosion happened in 1958 and was the result of something that sounds rather innocuous called a “bump”. In coal mining parlance, a bump is “an underground seismic event” which essentially causes the floor to heave upwards and the walls and ceiling to lose their structural integrity. A bump basically destroys the tunnels in a mine and buries those working there under tonnes of stone, or else traps them on the other side of collapsed, clogged tunnels. The 1958 bump killed 75 miners instantly and trapped many others. However, there was a new, external factor at play in 1958 which caused this final Springhill mining disaster to receive worldwide attention, and that was the advent of live television broadcasting. In 1958, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (the CBC) covered the mine disaster and subsequent rescue attempts live. It was the first time the network had covered a news event in real time before. Their reporting was shared internationally with television networks in the United States as well as the BBC in England. And what drama there was to cover! As it turned out, two separate groups of miners who had been working far underground at the face of the coal seams had survived and were huddled in air pockets behind tonnes of fallen rock that had collapsed and blocked their escape routes. While a nation watched with bated breath, dragermen (rescue crews) descended into the wrecked mine and, after five days of searching, made contact with the trapped men. The discovery of these men so many days after the initial bump sent a wave of relief but also confusion into the community. In a small town like Springhill, all of the trapped and missing miners were known to everyone. They were all someone’s father or son or brother or husband. But, with so many men trapped or unaccounted for, no one could be sure who these trapped miners actually were. Emotions ran high on the surface as everyone waited for news regarding their loved ones below. After a week of being trapped, the miners who had survived the bump ran out of water and food. They were also running out of breathable air. As the world watched, rescue crews bore thin holes through the rock that was blocking the tunnels and managed to slide pipes from one side of the cave-in to the other and were able to pump in fresh air. Soon thereafter, enough of the rock was cleared away that the two groups of trapped miners were able to be rescued. Nineteen men were rescued in all. Nineteen families had a happy reunion with those they loved. The nineteen rescued miners became the first instant celebrities in the world of modern broadcasting. Their names and faces were beamed across North America and Europe. The men were given awards for heroism and offered jobs as pitchmen for various companies such as the makers of 7Up pop (which was how one rescued miner answered the question posed to him by CBC reporters as to what was the first thing he wanted to do now that he was back on the surface). The tale of what happened before, during and after the bump was chronicled extremely well in a book called Last Man Out by New York Times reporter Melissa Fay Greene. For a more indepth account of this mining disaster and the impact it had on those involved and the community of Springhill, as a whole, I highly recommend Greene’s book. Check it out here.

Peggy Seeger

As mentioned, the CBC broadcast this event live to the world. While living in Ireland, a singer/songwriter named Peggy Seeger was watching, too. Seeger was greatly moved by the story. To her, it conjured images of men literally digging their own graves. Because she possessed a lyrical mind, Seeger took pen to paper and wrote the lyrics for a song that was simply and aptly named “Springhill Mining Disaster”. At the time that she did this, Seeger was part of the emerging Folk music scene that was enveloping the world. Her brother was famous American folk singer Pete Seeger. Her husband was famous Irish singer and activist, Ewan McColl. The story of what happened in Springhill to the families and to the community, itself, resonated with the Irish who had known their own share of disasters (mainly due to political violence) so they took to Peggy Seeger’s song right away. “Springhill Mining Disaster” became a popular song in Irish Folk circles and was soon covered by anyone and everyone who was part of that scene. One of the most popular versions of the song was the cover sung by Irish singer Luke Kelly. Kelly was one of the original members of the popular Irish group called The Dubliners (named after the James Joyce book). In any case, Luke Kelly possessed the singing voice of a balladeer and was able to best capture the anger and anguish experienced by all those involved in Springhill. It is his version that I will present to you on this day. But just to show you how important a song “Springhill Mining Disaster” became in Ireland, in the mid-1980s, when Irish supergroup U2 was touring in support of their award-winning album, The Joshua Tree, they included Peggy Seeger’s song on their set list at fifteen of their concerts.

Luke Kelly of The Dubliners

When you live in a mining town, you have to be prepared for that inevitable time when something goes wrong underground. To those of us who lived on the surface, the only way we ever knew that the worst had taken place was by way of a siren that would wail at the entrance to the mine in the event of an emergency. One day when I was just a teenager, the shrill whistle of the mine siren sang in my town. There had been an explosion at a mine known as No. 26 colliery. It is hard to explain how the mere sounding of such an alarm can send a chill through an entire town, but it did that day for all of us who lived there. To this day I can still remember the shocking sight of a mass funeral at our hockey arena and how deathly silent it was all throughout the town for days and days afterward. Glace Bay is a chatty town most days, but after the mine whistle sounded, there was no more somber place in the world. I didn’t lose any family members that day, but many around me did. Sometimes it takes tragedies such as the explosion in Glace Bay or the various disasters in Springhill or the one in Westray (sung so eloquently by singer Sarah Harmer when she was just starting her career in a band called Weeping Tile. That song is here.) to make you realize what the word community actually means. We all felt the loss of our miners. However, such events often bring people together. Acts of charity and kindness abounded. We all stood up and reached out to our neighbours in the wake of the No. 26 explosion, just as those families in Springhill did in the 1950s and 1890s. (The Glace Bay choral group The Men of the Deeps sang about the disaster in my hometown. You can listen to it here). I suppose the Irish know a thing or two about community, too. Thus we have the definitive account of a Nova Scotian mine tragedy from a woman in Ireland watching the CBC news.

Although it often goes unsaid, there is nothing more important in the world than family. So hug and kiss and hold close those who make your heart beat. Nothing else truly matters.

The link to the video for the song “Springhill Mining Disaster” by Luke Kelly can be found here.

The link to the official website for Springhill, Nova Scotia can be found here.

The link to the Springhill Miners Museum can be found here.

The link to the Glace Bay Miners Museum (where my wife and I were married, btw) can be found here.

***As always, all original content contained within this post remains the sole property of the author. No portion of this post shall be reblogged, copied or shared without express written consent of the author. ©2023

The Great Canadian Road Trip: Song #33/250: The Spark by William Prince

In 1986, William Prince was born in Selkirk, Manitoba.

William Prince

I have written many sentences over the years but few have been so rife with historical significance as the one that begins this post. While keeping in mind that this is a post about a singer and his songbook, it is impossible to separate William Prince from his lineage and the role his ancestors have played in several important events in Canadian history. His is a bloodline that has known its share of grand accomplishments and tragic heartbreak. His past informs his present in many ways but none more so that the philosophy of spirituality that guides much of his songwriting. William Prince is one of Canada’s most distinctive voices. The deep, rich timbre of his voice sets him apart from most singers. The hopeful, passionate tone of his lyrics resonates with all who are fortunate to hear him sing. William Prince has released four albums to date and has already received a Juno Award for Best Contemporary Roots and Traditional Album of the Year. He has also been named as Canada’s English Songwriter of the Year in 2020. But to fully appreciate the story of one of the rising stars in the Canadian music scene, it is important that we journey back almost two centuries to a time when Canada, as we now know it, didn’t exist. This is the story of William Prince. It is also the story of how Canada came to be.

Chief Peguis also known as Cut Nose.

William Prince is a direct relation to an Ojibwe chief named Cut Nose. Our history books have christened him as Chief Peguis. Cut Nose was the leader of the Saulteaux Peoples. Originally, the Saulteaux lived in what is now known as Ontario. But, with the westward expansion of English settlers across Ontario, Cut Nose moved his people to the Red River Valley in what is now known as Manitoba. Not long after the Saulteaux settled there, a man named Lord Selkirk appeared in eastern Canada. He found that there was money to be made in acquiring land and helping new settlers to build homes and set up farms. He began his business ventures on land found on Prince Edward Island. The success of his plans there encouraged Lord Selkirk to search for vacant properties to the west. He applied to the British Government to buy a tract of land in the Red River Valley of Manitoba but was refused because that land had already been granted to the Hudson’s Bay Company for fur trading. Undeterred, Lord Selkirk teamed up with Alexander McKenzie. Together they bought for themselves a controlling share of Hudson Bay Company stock. To further consolidate his position, Selkirk married the daughter of one of the Board members of the HBC. With his newly acquired authority, Selkirk assumed control of the Red River Valley and began the process of helping settlers to safely establish settlements there. At the time, many Indigenous Peoples had already been working in cooperation with the Northwest Company, which was a rival fur trading company to The Hudson’s Bay Company. In particular, the local Metis Peoples had a long and successful partnership with the Northwest Company and refused to cede the land to Selkirk without a fight. In the years that followed, there were many battles between the Metis and the forces of those who represented “The Crown” leading to, in time, the rise of Louis Riel and the battle known in history books as The Red River Rebellion. Caught in the middle of this political maneuvering were the Saulteaux led by Cut Nose. In order to limit the spread of Indigenous unrest, Lord Selkirk opted for a different strategy with the Saulteaux and the other Indigenous Nations in the area. He called for negotiations aimed at the formal establishment of peaceful relations between the new settlers, the Hudson’s Bay Company and the Indigenous Peoples of the land. These negotiations ended with the landmark signing of a peace treaty that is known in Canadian history simply as Treaty 1. In this treaty, the Indigenous Peoples of the land agreed to cede control of the entire Red River Valley area and beyond for all time. In return, they would be guaranteed an annual stipend and access to a parcel of land that would be exempted from any new settlement plans. One of those who signed away the rights to their land was Cut Nose on behalf of the Saulteaux. As many Indigenous Nations in North America were to find out, the Crown would soon use the same combination of armed force and negotiated promises to limit resistance across the remainder of the West. But, as they also found out, once these treaties were signed, the promises made were soon forgotten and those left on the newly created reserves often faced very hard economic and social times moving forward. In an attempt to ingratiate himself into the good graces of Lord Selkirk and his followers, Cut Nose agreed to convert to Christianity. In doing so, he gave up the use of his Indigenous name and adopted the name given to him which was William King. He was called “King” because he had been chief of his Nation. His sons and all descendants to follow were christened with the name “Prince”. This is how singer William Prince came to have his name.

Tommy Prince Stamp (CNW Group/Canada Post)

But William Prince’s family tree had yet another experience with the glory of proud accomplishment and the tragedy of failure. Cut Nose/William King had a great grandson named Tommy Prince. Tommy Prince would enlist in the Canadian Armed Forces and would go on to become one of Canada’s most highly skilled and decorated soldiers in our history. He earned his fame as a member of The Devil’s Brigade, which was a highly trained covert unit of soldiers who operated in WWII, as well as The Korean War. Despite earning multiple awards for bravery while in combat, when Tommy Prince was honourably discharged he returned to a Canada where Indigenous people were often faced with much discrimination. He found it almost impossible to get a job because his fellow employees would refuse to work alongside him because of his Indigenous status. He was also denied entry into The Royal Canadian Legion. Eventually, Tommy Prince developed addictions and suffered from mental illness. He died alone in a boarding house room no bigger than a jail cell. His death resulted in calls for a re-examination of how Canadians treat and regard Indigenous people. A Heritage Minute video was created about Tommy Prince’s story. Canada Post has subsequently honoured him with a stamp. Tommy Prince died in 1976.

William Prince was born in 1986 in Selkirk, Manitoba. Although he never met Tommy Prince (his third cousin) or Cut Nose/William King (his great-great grandfather), the historical weight of the past is something young William has carried with him his entire life. For some people, that weight would be viewed as a burden. But for William Prince, he has embraced his past and is determined to bring pride to his family and to his Peoples. One of the very first things that happened to William as a child was that he and his family moved from Selkirk to Peguis First Nation, which sits about 100 kilometres north of Winnipeg. Once settled there, William was introduced to the world of music by his father, who was a minister. As a teen, William tried his hand at singing in a grunge band (which was all the rage in North America in the late 1990s/early 2000s). Prince discovered that his voice was too deep to sing as fast and as high as he would have needed to in order to sound like his hero, Kurt Cobain. But, those who did hear him sing all commented that his voice seemed well suited for a slower style. That prompted Prince to buy an acoustic guitar. He abandoned his Nirvana-esque dreams and began to see music as a way to try and change the course of his family history. Thus, he took time to play and hone his skills as a guitarist. William Prince also took time to perfect the craft of writing songs that had meaning and that came from his heart. All through his twenties, Prince practised and played and wrote. It wasn’t until 2015, when he was almost 30 years old, that he felt he had enough skill and life experiences to warrant putting his music out to the world. His first album was called Earthly Days and was a mix of Gospel, Country and Folk. His work was well received by fans and critics alike, who were equally impressed by the sound of his voice as well as the maturity of his lyrics. Not long after Earthly Days was released and William Prince began to tour and play live in concert venues for the first time, he was approached to become involved in the Artist Development Programme offered by the folks who run Massey Hall in Toronto. In this programme, new artists are helped to secure bookings in venues that are an appropriate size for them during the early days of their career. In this way, an artist can be guaranteed of having bookings and can begin to develop an audience following that will grow with them as their career rolls along. What this meant for William Prince was that he eventually found himself on a bill at Massey Hall when it reopened in 2018 after having been closed for three years for renovations. He appeared at a show called The Songwriters Hall of Fame Gala. He appeared on stage with Inuk singer Elisapie to sing the song “Stolen Land” by Bruce Cockburn for Cockburn and the assembled crowd. The message of the song was clear to all in attendance. Since that performance, William Prince has continued to work with the folks at Massey Hall in an outreach programme for aspiring songwriters. He travels across the country, attending small festivals and appearing at local theatres and concert halls. At every stop along the way, William Prince continues to dazzle audiences with his beautiful singing voice and his message of hope, love and understanding.

The story of William Prince is definitely one of the most uplifting at play in the Canadian music scene today. His star is in ascendancy. His profile is becoming more well known across the country. His message of love and of hope is universal. He remains a proud member of Peguis First Nation. He has embraced his past and is striving to use his family’s experiences to inform his craft, and thereby, to inform all of us, too. Our world can be…and should be…a better place. William Prince is someone who is working tirelessly to make this happen. Let’s reply in kind and welcome him into our lives. He is a jewel of a human being. If this post is your introduction to him, then I am happy to have brought Mr. Prince to your attention. He is the real deal. Get ready to listen to some wonderful music. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the song “The Spark” by William Prince can be found here.

The link to the official website for William Prince can be found here.

The link to the Massey Hall Artist Development Programme can be found here.

The link to the official website for The Peguis First Nation can be found here.

The link to the Heritage Minute video about the life of Tommy Prince can be found here.

***As always, all original content contained within this post remains the sole property of the author. No portion of this post shall be reblogged, copied or shared in any manner without the express written consent of the author. ©2023