MC: Do you have favourite tour stops and cities that you’ve visited over the years?
TC: Massey Hall is going to be magical. And it always has been. The times I’ve played it, [and] I saw so many momentous shows and artists that have come through there, The Band and The Byrds and Leonard Cohen and just so many wonderful artists. There’s ghosts in that room … a magic energy in that room that’s wonderful … In the early days of Red Rider, when we were struggling, Alberta was supportive, as the East Coast has been. But all over Canada’s always been pretty supportive, so I’ve been lucky to have a pretty strong touring career here.
MC: I read about an encounter you had with Terry Fox and I was wondering if you could recount that.
TC: That verse [from “The Ones That I’ve Known”, on his new album] touches on it. You look back all [the] sleeping in vans and sleeping in station wagons to save money because you didn’t have money for a room. And maybe two or three nights where you wouldn’t sleep in a real bed. You know, you’re living on a shoestring. And we’re driving back from Winnipeg to Toronto and I’m wondering, “Why the heck am I doing this? Sleeping in the back of the station wagon, we’re taking turns driving. And outside of Thunder Bay, traffic stops and the rain’s pouring down and [I] look out the window and this police car goes by and then slowly, out of the drizzle, comes this one-legged boy running. And you wonder whether it’s tears or whether it’s rain running down his face, and he’s looking ashen, [and] you can see the pain but you can see the courage in his face. And that was the last day he ran. And it hit me like a ton of bricks. It was a moving experience, and I thought, “How tough is my gig? How can I complain about this? I’m able to make music. I’m making people happy with the music.” And it sort of changed my outlook on life, you know? It was one of those markers that you pay attention to and you go, “I’m going to keep at this for a little while longer.” So it was a powerful experience.
MC: That was in the early 1980s, and now it’s 2015. Would 1980s Tom Cochrane have imagined the level of success you’ve had since?
TC: You know what it is, Mike, it’s unfinished business. The record is a good part inspiration and a good part unfinished business. And like I said, you think back to some of the horrible gigs you played and some of the tough places you stayed and five of us to a room because that’s all we could afford, some of the horrible band houses we stayed in and it’s kind of got its own mysticism now. And I think that you kind of appreciate it now and you realize it added a certain substance and weight to some of the song writing that they may not have had without those experiences. Well, that they definitely wouldn’t have had.
Tom Cochrane’s latest album, Take It Home, is available in stores and online. For information on Cochrane’s March Canadian tour dates, go to www.tomcochrane.com.
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