Return to Japan 2013: July 12 – The Best Game You Can Name

My former roommate Klaxman was providing English lessons to a very friendly middle aged woman who I call Friendlyko. Friendlyko is also friends with The Wife and The Mother in Law. On July 12, Friendlyko was going to have some of her friends over at the house and we were invited. The catch is that everyone was expected to perform a song. I was specifically asked for a Canadian song.

Trying to think of a Canadian song is hard. There are so many famous singers and songwriters from Canada that picking just one is difficult. Plus, I wanted to think of something that would really capture Canada, instead of just being a good song written by a Canadian. After considering offerings from Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot, The Tragically Hip, Anne Murray, Paul Anka, Our Lady Peace, David Usher, The Arrogant Worms, The Guess Who, April Wine, Loverboy, Fucked Up, Grimes, The Besnard Lakes, Feist, and of course Nickleback (sarcasm on the last one) I ended up with only one logical choice – the most Canadian Man ever – Stompin’ Tom Connors. My song had to be The Hockey Song.

For those unfamiliar with Stompin’ Tom (aka everyone outside of Canada), he was a fiercely patriotic Canadian singer and songwriter who wrote songs about Canada and all things Canadian. He got his nickname from the habit of stomping his cowboy boot to keep time with his guitar playing. Many small towns and historical events in Canada have a Stompin’ Tom song written about them. The Hockey Song is easily Stompin’ Tom’s most recognizable song and is commonly played at hockey games at all levels throughout the country.

In the time leading up to my trip I didn’t have a lot of free time to prepare or practice. While in Japan, I downloaded the song from ITunes and got a free app that removes vocals from songs. I totally forgot to find the lyrics ahead of time. In the minutes leading up to my performance, I was searching for lyrics on Klaxman’s outdated cell phone.

I was up last after seeing other people play the shamisen, sing acapella, play traditional Japanese music on the ukelele, and demonstrate hula dancing. A crowd of about 12 Japanese ladies ranging in ages from mid 30s to early 90s stared at me expectantly. With the help of The Wife I was able to give a little intro on Stompin’ Tom Canada’s love of hockey. I also taught everyone a very basic translation of the chorus of the song and got them to practice so they could sing along. Then came the actual performance, which went fairly well and got a polite round of applause.

A lot of people come to Japan and have fantastic adventures. However, I doubt that many people can say that they got some 90 year old Japanese women to sing along with The Hockey Song. I will hold on to that accomplishment for the rest of my life.

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