Songs About Hockey
Ice Hockey In 1901
Hockey Songs: Music's Link to Canada's National Pastime
Canadian bacon, maple syrup and hockey. What do these 3 things have in common? All 3 are distinctly Canadian. As much as I love Canadian bacon and maple syrup, right now I am going to focus on hockey.
Canada's love affair with hockey is well documented. For example, famous Canadian comic and actor Mike Myers described "The Hockey Theme" (former theme song of Hockey Night In Canada) as the country's "second national anthem". For predictability reasons, I left that song off the list, but there is no shortage of other tunes dealing with the sport. Some deal with specific National Hockey League (NHL) players and teams, while others deal with other aspects of the game.
It is also good to note that love for the sport travels beyond Canada's borders. In connection with this, 4 of the songs on the list are by American artists and one is by a Swedish rock group. As expected the remaining 7 are from Canadian artists. Some of those artists had success on a national level but never made much of a worldwide impact. So these tunes are a way of learning about different facets of the game's appeal while also discovering new artists you may not have heard of. Let the puck drop and enjoy!
Canadian Favorites Poll
Which of these 3 distinctly Canadian things do you prefer?
The Hockey Song -- Stompin' Tom Connors
This infectious little ditty is from Connors 1973 album, Stompin' Tom and the Hockey Song. With the possible exception of "The Hockey Theme" it may be the most well known song about the sport. It is played in numerous arenas throughout the NHL.
While performing the tune in concert, Connors is known to modify the lyrics depending on what city he is playing in. For example, consider the lyric "The puck is in, the home team wins!". The reference to "home team" will quite often be substituted to the name of the local NHL team (or junior, minor league, etc...).
Stompin' Tom is a true icon of Canadiana who passed away on March 6, 2013 at the age of 76.
The Hockey Song by Stompin' Tom Connors (Video)
The Ballad of Wendel Clark Parts I & II -- Rheostatics
This loving ode to the former Toronto Maple Leaf captain Wendel Clark is from the acclaimed Canadian indie band's 1987 debut album Greatest Hits. Initially there was only 1000 copies of the album produced (which were all sold out), but in 1996 the album was reissued.
The song also contains a snippet of "The Hockey Theme" and makes reference to then Hockey Night In Canada host Dave Hodge interviewing Clark. Like many of the band's tunes it is very Canadiana in nature.
The Ballad of Wendel Clark Parts I & II by Rheostatics (Video)
Big League -- Tom Cochrane & Red Rider
This song is widely rumored to be about 1986 Calgary Flame 1st round pick George Pelawa, who tragically died on August 30, 1986 in a car crash. That being said, Cochrane never named the player. He has only ever stated that it was based on a true experience of meeting a father of a hockey prospect who was dealing with the tragic loss of his son.
The song once again took on added weight when Tom Cochrane and Red Rider performed the song during a video tribute to Luc Bourdon during the Vancouver Canucks home opener on October 9th, 2008. Bourdon was a promising young defenceman for the Canucks who died in a tragic motorcycle accident at the age of 21.
In 1988, the song was a big hit in Canada and it did manage to make the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart. Cochrane had his major worldwide breakthrough in 1991 when he had a massive solo hit with "Life Is a Highway".
Big League by Tom Cochrane & Red Rider (Video)
Zamboni -- Gear Daddies
While many grow up with aspirations of playing in the NHL, "Zamboni" (commonly referred to as "I Wanna Drive the Zamboni) tells the story of a man who fantasizes about driving a Zamboni (a brand name of the ice resurfacing machine). The song quite often gets played in many hockey rinks while the ice is being resurfaced.
The song originally appeared as a hidden track on the Gear Daddies 1990 album Billy's Live Bait. It gained wider fame when it appeared on the 1994 soundtrack of D2: The Mighty Ducks.
I Wanna Drive the Zamboni by Gear Daddies (Video)
Fifty Mission Cap -- The Tragically Hip
The Hip has multiple songs which reference hockey, but I opted for this ditty which appeared on their 1992 album, Fully Completely. The song references Toronto Maple Leafs player Bill Barilko's mysterious disappearance. During a weekend fishing trip circa August 26, 1951 the plane he was on disappeared. His body was discovered on June 6, 1962.
The last goal Barilko ever scored was an overtime goal during game 5 of the 1951 Stanley Cup Finals. It was the Cup winning goal. As referred to in the song’s lyrics, the Leafs didn't win another Cup until the year that his body was discovered.
The Hip are massively huge in Canada but have maintained a fairly low profile globally.
Fifty Mission Cap by The Tragically Hip (Video)
Statue of Wayne Gretzky
Gretzky Rocks -- The Pursuit of Happiness
It is no surprise that at least one song on this list would be about Wayne Gretzky, who is widely considered to be the greatest hockey player of all time. Gretzky's iconic jersey number, 99 is the only number to be retired by every team in the NHL.
This infectious little ditty is from The Pursuit of Happiness' 1995 album Where's the Bone. The band had a decent amount of success on Canadian college and modern rock radio. Their biggest hit was "I'm Adult Now" which in 1989 even made a dent in the US on the Billboard Alternative, Mainstream and Modern Rock charts.
Gretzky Rocks by The Pursuit of Happiness (Video)
He Looked A lot Like Tiger Williams -- The Hanson Brothers
Not to be confused with Hanson of ""MMMBop" fame, The Hanson Brothers is a side project of Canadian punk band Nomeansno. The band gets their name from the brotherly trio of goons from the 1977 classic comedic hockey film Slap Shot. The band's music is quite often referred to as puck rock.
This song is from the 1996 album Sudden Death, and it makes reference to Tiger Williams, the NHL's all time leader in penalty minutes. Copies of their CD, included a mail in postcard that fans could use to petition Williams for inclusion into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Those efforts have failed.
He Looked A lot Like Tiger Williams by The Hanson Brothers (Video)
Hit Somebody! (The Hockey Song) -- Warren Zevon
From Zevon's 2002 album My Ride's Here, the song is equal part touching, funny and sad. It is an insightful examination of the plight of the hockey goon. It is the story of a Canadian farm boy who has always dreamed of being a professional hockey player. He wants to be a goal scorer, but he was not very good with the puck and the only thing he can do is beat people up. If he wants to play the sport that he loves he has to accept his enforcer role.
The song was co-written by bestselling author Mitch Albom, whose credits include Tuesday With Morrie. The song also includes backing vocals from David Letterman who shouts out "hit somebody".
Hit Somebody! (The Hockey Song) by Warren Zevon (Video)
Time To Go -- Dropkick Murphys
This raucous anthem is from the Celtic punks' 2003 album, Blackout. The song is a loving homage to the Boston Bruins of the NHL. The tune has some parallels to their 2004 hit "Tessie" which was recorded in support of the Boston Red Sox of the MLB. Just like that song, the intent was to rally the troops and to motivate their team to victory.
Time To Go by Dropkick Murphys (Video)
Welcome Home, Luc Robitaille -- Mando Diao
This infectious little ditty from Swedish garage rockers appears on their 2006 album Ode to Ochrasy. The protagonist in the song finds an old hockey card of Luc Robitaille. He regrets that he has gotten rid of all of his other cards in his collection. Reflecting on the card brings back fond feelings of nostalgia. The feelings of regrets and nostalgia are something that many former and current collectors can relate to.
Welcome Home, Luc Robitaille by Mando Diao (Video)
www.ipetitions.com/petition/rivertonrifle/ -- John K. Samson
This song (also referred to as "Petition") first appeared on Samson's 2010 EP Provincial Road 222. The tune is connected with an online petition to induct Reggie Leach into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Leach was an aboriginal hockey player who had his best seasons playing with the Philadelphia Flyers. During the 1976 season he set a team record for goals with a league leading 61. That same season he also set an NHL record for most playoff goals by scoring 19 in 16 games, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in the process.
Samson is also known for his work with acclaimed Canadian Indie band The Weakerthans. In connection with this I was seriously considering including their song, "Elegy for Gump Worsley" from their 2007 album Reunion Tour. Back in the 90s, Samson also had a brief stint as bassist for veteran punk rockers Propagandhi. Propagandhi's 2009 protest tune "Dear Coach's Corner" also barely missed the cut.
Petition by John K. Samson (Video)
NHL Official Game Puck
I'm A Puck -- The Zambonis
This American puck rock band is named after the ice resurfacing machine and they only play songs about hockey. So it is no surprise that at least one of their songs made the list. This 2011 released song is a fun little ditty which pays homage to the important but somewhat unappreciated role played by the hockey puck.
The band formed in 1991 and according to group member Dave Schneider they are "the only band in the world whose two biggest influences are The Beatles and Wayne Gretzky!”
I'm A Puck by The Zambonis (Video)
© 2014 CJ Baker