By Ashley Thompson
Dave Parker’s upbeat ditty inspired by his hometown’s claim to fame has something Stompin’ Tom’s ode to the good ole hockey game lacks – Hants County swagger.
“It’s kind of a country-rock tune,” the Windsor native said in a phone interview. “I like to say it has a bit of Hants County swagger to it.”
Parker, a musician and high school music teacher living in Quebec City, says the song, Hockey Was Invented By A Nova Scotian, is a toe-tappin’ track inspired by a claim that sets the Little Town of Big Firsts apart from the rest of the world – whether the rest of the world is ready to admit it or not.
The singer-songwriter set out to pay homage to Windsor as the Birthplace of Hockey the best way he knew how after mingling with a member of the rejuvenated Hockey Heritage Society during a visit home in May 2011.
“I was driving back to Quebec City and I started writing it around Moncton, and by the time I got to Rivière-du-Loup I was pretty well done.”
Parker, an accomplished sax player, shelved the song he scrawled on tattered pieces of scrap paper for a few months until he felt compelled to call on some old friends to help him match music with lyrics in September.
Falmouth’s Brian Johnston – Parker’s high school music teacher – wrote piano into the number and his Torontonian son, Peter Johnston, added bass and guitar work to the mix. Former Windsor-area resident Greg Simm recorded guitar riffs from Saskatoon, and rhythm mixes in Dartmouth, renowned Canadian jazz singer Tena Palmer lent her voice for the back vocals and Andy Stewart brought the beats. Their contributions were meshed together using a music-recording program on Parker’s computer.
“I spent most of my Christmas vacation with my headphones on jigging and jagging this and that,” Parker said.
The final product was released in mid-January without the collaborating musicians ever having to be in the same room.
Now, a satisfied Parker says he owes his musically inclined pals a round.
“The musicians I approached to do it basically did it for… free drinks for the time being,” he joked.
“If it makes any money, I’ll pay them.”
With the polished product ready for the airwaves, Parker hopes the tune accurately tells the tale of how hockey came to be on a pond neighbouring the outdoor rinks he played on as a kid growing up near King’s-Edgehill School.
“I’ve never thought about the lyrics of the song as much as I’ve thought about this one.” - Musician Dave Parker
“I’ve never thought about the lyrics of the song as much as I’ve thought about this one,” he said.
Parker referred to the work by local historian Garth Vaughan and 19th-century author Thomas Haliburton when he penned this verse:
“Now we created the nets and the design of the stick
And a disc slid better on a frozen crick
What those early pucks were made of, you might not want to know
But you find them in the fields where the green grass grows.”
Self-proclaimed Windsor history buff, Andrew Dill, grew up with the pond that is said to be the Cradle of Hockey – where Haliburton first watched, and took note of, boys from King’s College playing hurley on ice in the 1800s – in the backyard of his family’s world-famous giant pumpkin farm.
Dill says it’s about time someone immortalized the legend of Long Pond in a song.
“I think the song speaks volume about our Little Town of Big Firsts in this country and, without a doubt, it’s spreading a message across Canada,” he said.
Dill has unearthed several dated wooden and rubber pucks from the ground surrounding Long Pond in his pursuit to find evidence to strengthen Windsor’s claim as the Birthplace of Hockey. His most impressive finds are showcased in the museum his family manages on their College Road property.
Alluding to a verse that says the game was first played in Nova Scotia then shared with people in Boston, Montreal and Kingston, Ont., Dill says Parker’s song is both an educational, and entertaining, tribute to Long Pond.
“He really mixed in a lot of the important … elements to our claim and people are really going to take notice.”
Parker says the song has yet to take the radio-land by storm, but it has pleased everyone he had in mind when he wrote it.
“My biggest passions are hockey and music, so having the two come together in a song is just idyllic.”
To hear “Hockey Was Invented By A Nova Scotian,” which was released just in time for the inaugural Hockey Week in Windsor celebrations running from Feb. 5 to 11, visit daveparkersax.com. For a schedule of Hockey Week in Windsor events, visit www.town.windsor.ns.ca.