I wrote this for prairie dog in 2001:
When last I spoke with Richard Meltzer, rock crit's anti-hero, author of some really great books like, THE AESTHETICS OF ROCK, A WHORE JUST LIKE THE REST, and HOLES: A BOOK NOT ENTIRELY ABOUT GOLF, he asked me about Stompin' Tom Connors. It seems that while Meltzer-who now lives in Portland, Oregon, where he writes mostly about getting older-lived in New York during the early 70s, he made frequent trips to nearby Montreal just to see Dr Stompin' Tom (in 1996, Connors received an honourary Doctorate of Laws from St. Thomas University in Fredricton, New Brunswick). "We thought he was the wildest thing going," Meltzer remembered fondly. "Is he still active?" I was pleased to him that Stompin' Tom was not only still active, but that he's been enjoying quite the renaissance of late. Meltzer was intrigued to hear that Connors has penned two memoirs, BEFORE THE FAME, chronicling his childhood in Skinners Pond, PEI and his early days spent hitch-hiking with nothing more than a flat-top guitar, and the recent STOMPIN' TOM AND THE CONNORS TONE, where Stompin' Tom sets the record straight on his rise to fame and the disillusionment with the Canadian music industry that led him to return all of his Juno awards in 1979. Meltzer further marvelled at Connors' unyielding orneriness when it came to protecting and valuing Canadian culture. "Well, he's a hell of a custodian," Meltzer laughed. Meltzer then went on to opine on how, like blues artists such as T-Model Ford and R.L. Burnside, by staying true to himself and true to his music, Stompin' Tom is a helluva lot more of a genuine Rock & Roller than ninety per cent of the acts who actual claim perform Rock & Roll music. "It's a big monster, Rock," he said wearily, "And it exists for certain pre-ordained reasons that were not part of the package once. Part of what it's there for is to make people stupid. To make people cease to resist. It's crowd control." But you know, and I know, and hell, even Richard Meltzer knows that Stompin' Tom Connors, who was recently in the headlines again, demanding to be removed from the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame due to what he considers the association's lack of support for true Canadian culture, is about something quite the opposite.