Monday, February 17, 2014

Winter Games: Hockey Skates

Kathleen Edwards: Hockey Skates

It’s not that I don’t like hockey, but I just never got into the habit of watching it. I grew up watching baseball, basketball and football, and hockey wasn’t something that we followed in our house, although my father tells stories about going to the old Madison Square Garden when he was in high school to watch double headers for like a nickel. When I do watch hockey, I recognize that it is exciting, and the few games I have been to are great, and I find that I enjoy the games best during the playoffs, or the Olympics, when fighting takes a back seat to skating. Of course, I was very excited by the “Miracle on Ice” (which you should read about here). And I loved Slap Shot. Hockey may also be the sport that benefits the most from HDTV, because you can actually follow the puck.

My siblings and I all grew up in the same house, and while my brother and I became rabid sports fans, my sister never got the bug. I have no idea if my parents did anything differently to cause that, but I have found that my daughter is less of a sports fan than my son (except, to some degree, when it comes to soccer). But life has a way of throwing curves (to use a baseball metaphor, because I’m not familiar enough with hockey to know if there is a similar hockey phrase), and my sister has a boyfriend who is a rabid hockey fan and a son who is less interested in sports than her daughter. Seeing pictures on Facebook of my sister in a Rangers jersey at a game has brought me much amusement. But it is important in a relationship to support your partner’s interests, which is why my wife has found herself at more Mets games than I think she ever anticipated, and I have certainly seen more choral music than I ever imagined.

Of course, if you are Canadian, hockey is ingrained in your culture. It is actually the state religion, set forth in the Constitution (no, it isn’t). And it is not surprising that Canadian singer Kathleen Edwards uses hockey references even in songs that aren’t about hockey at all. Often compared to Lucinda Williams due to the similar quality of their songwriting, their twangy sound, and less than perfect voices, Edwards is a great talent in her own right. In the song “Hockey Skates,” Edwards’ narrator describes an unsatisfactory relationship and says, with resignation,

I am so sick of consequence and the look on your face 
I am tired of playing defense 
I don't even have hockey skates 

You don’t have to be Don Cherry to understand what she means.

Another great Edwards song that references hockey without being about hockey is “I Make the Dough, You Get the Glory,” in which the narrator unfavorably compares herself to her fellow band member with a series of clever comparisons—

You're cool and cred like Fogerty I'm Elvis Presley in the 70's 
You're Chateauneuf, I'm Yellow Label 
You're the buffet, I'm just the table 
I'm a Ford Tempo, you're a Maserati 
You're the Great One, I'm Marty McSorley 
You're the Concorde, I'm economy. 

Here, she is comparing herself not to the all-time great Wayne Gretzky, but to his teammate, the grinding enforcer, McSorley. The video for this song is fun, and features a hockey match that includes Edwards, members of her band, Blue Rodeo singer Jim Cuddy, former NHL players Paul Coffey and Brad Dalgarno, and, yes, Marty McSorley.

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