Settling the score
If you think the responses to the CBC hockey contest are passionate now, just wait
SARMISHTA SUBRAMANIAN | August 13, 2008 |
On Canada Day this year, Dan Cleary, the Newfoundland-born Detroit Red Wings star, returned to his hometown to show off the Stanley Cup with his name engraved on it. Harbour Grace was abuzz, and Shawn Lidster, who lives in nearby Brigus, braved the crowds with his three young boys to catch a glimpse of the parade. Traffic foiled the plans but, stirred by the occasion—a hometown hockey hero, all those flags—Lidster sat down that evening and wrote It’s Hockey Night in Canada, an upbeat Tom Petty-style rock number. He then recorded it on a Boss digital recorder with his red Sammy Hagar Washburn guitar and some drum loops, his nine-year-old, Dylan, acting as studio engineer. A couple of weeks later, he uploaded the song to the CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada theme song website.
Lidster, a 46-year-old who calls himself a full-time dad and part-time songwriter, admits his isn’t a high-gloss production. “My room where I’m standing, it’s just barely enough room to sit down in a chair. I got the mike set up on a bunch of egg cartons on a little 2 1/2-foot mike stand, and it’s a 25-year-old mike,” he says. His back-up singers on the “hey heys” in the chorus are his three sons: Dylan, Jake (age 7) and Alexander (2). But he hopes the judges will hear the potential in the song—“The little fella, the two-year-old, started singing it right away, so I figured I have half a chance,” he chuckles. Lidster actually won a songwriting contest once, in Australia, where he lived for a time. The prize: that red Sammy Hagar guitar.
On June 19, the CBC announced the details of its contest to find a new theme to replace the beloved “dunt-da-DUNT-da-dunt” theme written by Dolores Claman. Lidster’s is one of about 4,000 tracks that have poured in—around five times the 500 to 1,000 entries expected, says Scott Moore, head of sports at the CBC. Two weeks remain before the contest deadline, and every day there are more entries: songs with titles such as Slap Shot, GOAL!, Anthem Of Rockin Proportions and Fasten Your Jock Straps. There are pounding rock instrumentals galore and punk-pop songs like Danny Lovelock’s Game Face, which the 23-year-old aspiring musician from Peachland, B.C., admits he wrote six years ago, about meeting a girl. There are pieces with blitzkrieg shredding solos (are we a nation of guitar wankers?) and clarion trumpets and ‘80s newscast synths, even a clever “found sounds” collage—made up entirely of looped cat yowls, baby screams, and gunshots. That last one, Logan Aube’s Hockey Scores, is now the highest-rated theme, and a blogosphere celebrity boasting several YouTube remixes of its own.
Among the jam-band musicians and tinkerers, music teachers are well represented. Craig Cassils is a retired high-school music teacher from Winnipeg who writes compositions for church choirs, published in such collections as Songs of Joy and Clowns. He says he entered because “it’s so different from the usual kind of music I work on. I was attracted to it like a magnet.” One enterprising teacher has sent in a video clip. The Long Shot, by Davis Givan, is a bit of homemade naïf animation reminiscent of vintage NFB shorts: a puck sailing across the land, over his hometown of Nackawic, N.B., “Home of the World’s Largest Axe,” over the Parliament Buildings, helped along by the Canadarm—all to a mellow guitar-and-keyboard score. Another video submission is pounded out admirably on a piano by a boy, Robert Fraser-Burke, who looks about 13. All are available at www.anthemchallenge.cbc.ca to be heard, commented on, discussed.