Mark Byrnes is a senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
"Stompin' Tom" sang about the life of a streetcar driver, hauling a load of potatoes from Prince Edward Island.
Canadian country folk singer Tom Connors passed away yesterday. He was 77.
Connors was fiercely proud of his country, and seen by many as a cultural icon. He frequently used his music to tell stories about life in Canada, including tunes like "Ketchup Song," inspired by a policeman who asked him to write "a nice lovable song about our nice lovable town of Leamington" while he was hitchhiking through it.
His audience was limited mostly to the boundaries of his home country thank to his Canada-centric lyrics. Stompin’ Tom Connors’ voice rarely traveled into the United States besides at the occasional NHL game.
One of his more famous tunes, "Bud the Spud," was about a speeding trucker hauling a load of potatoes from Prince Edward Island back to his food terminal in Toronto.
As seen above in the 1973 concert film "Across this Land with Stompin Tom Connors," he took his songwriting into unusual territory for country music singers. He covered public transportation, penning the like of "TTC Skidaddler," about the life of a streetcar driver in Toronto:
Don't forget your ticket when I open up the door-
Kindly make your way along the aisle
I'll drive ya down to work and I'll safely bring ya back
And I'll try to render service with a smile
I'm a TTC skidaddler...
I been a street car driver now about eleven years
And I know the old Toronto city well
There's a whole lot of people who wait along the track.
For the signal from my clangin’ trolley bell.
According to his obituary in the Global Winnipeg, Connors once said:
I'm a man of the land, I go out into the country and I talk to people and I know the jobs they do and how they feel about their jobs. And I've been doing that all my life so I know Canada like the palm of my hand. I don't need a map to go anywhere in Canada, I know it all.