Juno Award-winning artist Tom Cochrane reworked the lyrics of one of his most famous songs as a tribute to the Humboldt Broncos, and he’ll be performing it at the jazz festival
on Saturday.

Tom Cochrane's music has a powerful new meaning for Saskatchewan

“It’s like coming home,” Canadian musician Tom Cochrane said of coming to play his next concert in Saskatoon.

The eight-time Juno Award-winning rocker doesn’t come from Saskatchewan, but he grew up just next door in Manitoba. Cochrane, 65, said he has plenty of memories of playing great concerts in Saskatoon.

His Saturday night performance with Red Rider at the SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival will be his first in the province since the Humboldt Broncos bus crash on April 6th.

Less than a week after the crash, Cochrane appeared on TSN and played his hit song Big League as a commemoration to the people who lost their lives. He even changed the lyrics to one of the verses in recognition of the tragedy.

“A lot of people made the connection between this horrible tragedy and the song,” Cochrane said.

The original song tells the story of an upcoming young hockey player from a small town whose dreams were dashed in a truck crash, from a parent’s perspective.

Reporter and television personality James Duthie reached out to Cochrane to ask if he would play the song on air for the Broncos. Cochrane said he was hesitant at first, but after talking to Duthie and some Broncos family members he decided he could make it a fitting way to pay tribute.

Tom Cochrane's music has a powerful new meaning for Saskatchewan
Michael Bell / Regina Leader-Post

It wasn’t until the morning before he recorded the song for TSN that he decided he should change the lyrics.

“I just felt that particular verse … cut a little too deeply for the situation,” he said. “I wanted to write something that was directed more at this particular horrible incident, and to be really respectful of it.”

It’s a difficult thing to put into words or music, but Cochrane said in the end he was “glad” he’d performed the song. He said his hope is to treat the song “with the dignity and respect everyone in Saskatchewan deserves” when he performs it at his concert.

“If anything positive can come out of a horrible tragedy like this, it kind of galvanized the country in compassion and empathy,” Cochrane said. “So if the song, in some small way, contributed to a bit of healing, then that’s a good thing.”

Cochrane is familiar with playing concerts in Saskatoon, but this will be his first time playing at the jazz festival. He wasted no time naming a list of acts he wishes he was able to see while he’s in town: Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite, City and Colour, and his own opener (the Romi Mayes Band).