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Old 08-02-2010, 11:03 AM   #1
Join Date: May 2000
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Default Stompin' Tom and Gordon Lightfoot

Monday, August 2, 2010

Stompin' Tom not ready to retire

Last Updated: August 1, 2010 3:02pm

Stompin' Tom Connors Stompin' Tom Connors takes life one step at a time these days.

The 74-year-old Canadian country icon says he has no desire to retire -- but he doesn't want to get carried out of a gig feet-first either.

"I used to plan for that when I was younger and full of piss and vinegar," says Connors with a chuckle from his southern Ontario home.

"But lately, as the years creep on, the bones get a little more brittle. So I take it day by day now. Or at least year by year. When the spring comes on, if I feel like going out, I go. And when I don't, I won't."

Thankfully, that day hasn't come yet. The legendary troubadour and vocally proud Canadian has put on his boots, tuned up his acoustic guitar and brought in a supply of planks in preparation for his umpteenth Canadian tour, which kicks off in Thunder Bay and tramps its way west throughout August.

Still fast on his conversational feet, the composer of Sudbury Saturday Night, Bud the Spud, The Hockey Song and many more unofficial national anthems filled us in on homogeny, heroes and why he harangues Gordon Lightfoot.

So you still enjoy touring? Do you have any clue how many times you've crossed Canada?

I have no idea. Long before even I was a professional musician, I crossed the country on foot I don't know how many times -- maybe 20 or 30. It's been my life; I'm a road warrior. But I still enjoy it. And I still like entertaining.

What's the biggest change you've seen in the country over the decades?

Now, every town looks the same. Instead of hamburger joints or corner stores, it's all McDonald's and franchises and corporations. You drive from one town to another, and you think you're in the same town. I think the country's uniqueness has gone.

As a man who's made a career of writing about the different regions of this country, how does that affect your work?

Well, now I try to focus on people and not the paint job, if you will. I'm more interested in what makes people laugh and cry and proud of their jobs and their country. That's what I try to cover.

Do you still have the same spark? A lot of veteran songwriters say they aren't the same person who wrote all their old songs.

Gordon Lightfoot and I just has a discussion about that maybe five months ago here at my place. He hasn't recorded in years. And I've been after him. I said, 'You gotta get back to this.' He basically said just what you said, that he's not the same guy anymore. I couldn't understand that. Me, I have to wait for the moods. But the moods come regularly. I'm working on a bunch of new songs. They're just hen scratches on paper right now, just a mish-mash. But after the tour is over, I'll get into it seriously.

Considering how much of a Canadian icon you are, it seems odd you almost never tour abroad, even as a sort of cultural ambassador.

I would, but the opportunity is not there. I can't afford to do it myself, to be frank with you. I need help from the industry, but I've always had a problem with the industry because they don't understand my philosophy. It's a contradiction, I know, but that's the problem. You see, the way I figure it, there's too many people going elsewhere. My philosophy is that those with talent or expertise should stay here and fight the good fight. So I can't look like I'm contradicting myself.

What do you listen to?

Country -- but not a lot of it. Just like all those towns, it's too homogenized. It's all the same. I like old country because every song had a different story. I'm a lyric man; I like stories and something that has a moral to it.

Who's your favourite?

Every songwriter usually has at least one good song, so it's pretty hard to choose. But in the old days, I used to like Wilf Carter. He was inspirational to me because he had a lot of songs about cowboying and rodeoing and stuff like that out west. I kind of took to that. And I used to like Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams and Johnny Cash. Those kind of guys.

Do you think the days of that kind of songwriting are gone?

Well, it would be a shame if that happened. But trends have a way of coming back. So maybe that will come around again. And I can hardly wait.
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