Upon the release of Mad Mad World 25 it looks like Tom Cochrane’s life will continue to be a Highway.
He says “the road was and is like going to school.”
An iconic career which started in the pubs, rough neck bars and coffeehouses of the roads and highways of first Ontario and then the rest Canada and then the world has spanned over 4 decades and is characterized by creative, adventurousness and musical and personal integrity.
Commenting on some of the jobs he had early on in his life, which include cab driving, working at CIL Paints, on the loading dock at Sears and Canada Packers, crewing out on a sail boat (not a cruise ship). “Those gigs are character builders, you pay some bills along the way with them but it’s real life also that you learn from and draw songs from.”
A few years into his tenure with Red Rider they graduated to larger venues, halls, arenas and festivals stages. “The early days never leave you though, they get etched on your soul like a tattoo.” Within and without Red Rider, Tom has released 17 albums. Having helped shape the musical landscape for future generations of Canadian artists, Tom remains one of only 3 male Canadian singer songwriters to have a diamond certified album in Canada (over a million copies sold). Mad Mad World is now around 1.7 million in Canada, and at over 3 million worldwide. Songs such as Life Is A Highway and Lunatic Fringe have been international hits and continue to garner much airplay around the world.
The release of Mad Mad World 25, #MMW25, will commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of this hallmark recording and will be accompanied by a launch at the National Music Center in Calgary and a tour in 2017. MMW25 will include a re-mastered edition of the original recordings as well as a live Westwood One performance circa 1992 from Chicago and the original demo of Life Is A Highway before it was renamed. “We are extremely excited to play MMW25 in it’s entirety live also with some of the other songs people want to hear in the set as well of course.” – Tom says.
A coffee table style MMW25 book will be released early in 2017 as well.
Being part of our collective cultural consciousness and landscape for a long while now, this list has been seen before but to recap: Tom Cochrane is a recipient of 8 Juno Awards, and is a member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame, Walk of Fame, a prestigious Officer of the Order of Canada, the Order of Manitoba, former Honorary Air Force Colonel in the 409 squadron, an honorary doctorate, a recent Diamond Jubilee award, many songwriter awards from SOCAN, CAPAC and ASCAP, a Grammy nomination as well as numerous other citations and awards. Asked about some of these Tom says “I was tremendously proud to get the key to the city of Winnipeg a while back and my cousin asked me if I get free parking with it” he says with a sheepish grin “that kind of stuff brings you back down to earth you know? The thing is I’ve been extremely blessed in my life and career, I’ve had the good fortune of having some good people around me over the years, I’ve put one foot ahead of the other to see where the road would take me and providence has been kind…so from time to time I’ve happened to or tried to do the right thing” and continues “of course I’m very proud and humbled especially with the Officer of the Order of Canada and the Order of Manitoba investiture and induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the CMIHOF one as well, I’m a proud Canadian” … “ the biggest reward though is when someone comes up and says this song or that song got me through some tough times or was part of the best times in my life, or when I fell in love that was our song.”
Throughout his career, Tom, has thrown his support behind a wide range of worthy causes. He has traveled the world, including Africa 9 times and Asia twice on behalf of World Vision. He helped spearhead the Canada for Asia initiative, entertained our troops in Afghanistan, raised money for Parkinson’s research, has performed at Live 8, in Tears Are Not Enough, Young Artists for Haiti, and more. He endorses or supports besides World Vision: Waterkeeper’s Alliance, Amnesty International, War Child, Medicin Sans Frontiers, Unison, World Animal Protection, The United Way, Tree Canada, Unison and Tempo, to name a few and has lent and continues to lend his support to several other causes.
An outspoken proponent of freedom of speech in his work and personally, Tom believes that journalism and journalistic freedom is the cornerstone of democracy. Before embarking on a music career he wanted to be a foreign correspondent and report “the truth from different parts of the world”, which continues to transcend and fuel his musical creativityin the same manner he touched on the universal values of hope and perseverance in his international hit, "Life is a Highway".
“I was a funny kid, my heroes included the likes of Edward R Murrow, Eric Sevareid, Walter Cronkite, and the great Canadian journalist Peter Jennings.
I felt there was nothing more noble than doing what they did, that’s why I like to think of myself as a sonic journalist” this may partly explain songs like White Hot, Lunatic Fringe, and the album Neruda.
A down to earth Canadian prairie boy at heart from Lynn Lake Manitoba, who came of age and started playing music in the west end of Toronto, Tom now divides his time between the tour bus, the city, and his beloved studio/retreat “Layastone” on the shores of Georgian Bay.
His passion for life and interests in, global issues, music and Canada have not waned.
Upon finishing summer touring for 2016, and quicker than you can say “Dharma Bums” he and his reunited Red Rider with the legendary Kenny Greer and Jeff Jones, will be preparing to be back on the road in 2017 touring Mad Mad World 25 while down the road looking towards a book and then music for the next new release.
“The highway has been a good teacher I’ve learnt a lot from her, it stretches out before us like a canvas.”