Tom Cochrane reworked the lyrics of his song “Big League” on Tuesday night for a special performance honouring the Humboldt Broncos.
The Juno Award-winning signer and songwriter played an acoustic version in front of a green and yellow backdrop to begin TSN’s NHL playoff preview special.
The song, originally featured on his 1988 album “Victory Day” with Red Rider, is written from the perspective of a father whose son was a hockey player with big dreams cut short by a truck driving in the wrong lane.
Many Canadians began associating the lyrics with the 15 people who were killed in a highway accident on Friday night when the Humboldt Broncos’ bus collided with a semi-trailer in northern Saskatchewan. Fourteen other people were injured.
Cochrane’s low-key televised performance was played as photos of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League team were shown in a montage.
He updated the lyrics to incorporate a new verse that drew closer parallels to the Broncos story: “All the right moves when he turned 18. Ridin’ to the game and ridin’ with his team. Ridin’ with their friends and ridin’ for their dreams. Ridin’ off to immortality in the big league.”
Cochrane also changed another portion of the lyrics to place a stronger emphasis on the unpredictability of life: “Never can tell what might come down. Never can tell when you might check out. You just don’t know, no you never can tell.”
Other Canadian musicians have turned to their own songs to create tributes to the team.
Country singer Paul Brant performed his 2001 song “Small Towns and Big Dreams” Monday on CBC’s “Q” after recently rewriting the lyrics to incorporate a hockey theme at the request of Ron MacLean, who planned to use it on a segment of “Hometown Hockey.”
Kingston, Ont. musician Jay Smith has racked up more than 1 million views on a Facebook video he posted performing “Leave a Stick by the Door,” an original song written in tribute to the hockey players.