Ghostlike” and strangely “flattering” — that’s how legendary musician Tom Cochrane described the new exhibit in Calgary, honouring his life’s work and contribution to Canadian music.
Seeing his awards, music memorabilia, old clothes and beloved instruments on display at Showcase: Tom Cochrane said it was a humbling experience that held “memorial” like qualities for him, Cochrane told CBC’s The Homestretch.
The temporary exhibition launched Friday at Studio Bell features the iconic outfit Cochrane wore in his 1991 video for his chart-topper Life is a Highway, as well as his ’61 Gretsch Tennessee and ’63 Gretsch National guitars.
“They’re both my beautiful, wonderful breeding horses that I put out to pasture, just because there’s more practical stuff to play on stage,” he said.
The opening of the exhibition coincides with a deluxe reissue of Cochrane’s 1991 smash album Mad Mad World, and the announcement of a coast-to-coast Canadian tour in early 2017 celebrating its 25th anniversary.
Life is a Highway a form of personal therapy
When Cochrane released his first solo album in 1991, he never imagined he’d break a million sales.
“I knew there was some special energy about it,” he said of its massively successful single Life is a Highway.
The 1993 Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee described the hit as “a song that I needed as therapy to get through what I was going through.”
He had just returned from an “eye-opening” but “traumatic” trip through Africa, where he travelled through war zones, dodging bullets and witnessing death on a massive scale.
“I needed this song as a pep talk to myself to get me out of that psychological funk I was in once I got home.”
The fact that it resonated so deeply with people across the world speaks to music’s unique and incomprehensible ability to touch the soul, he said.
“It really quintessentially defines what songwriting at its best is about, which is it makes people feel a little less alone in the world.”