Chet Greason, Gazette staff
Dan Stacey just may have the next great hockey anthem on his hands, but he says he didn’t necessarily write it for Hockey Night in Canada.
“I wanted to speak to the fans,” he says. “Because that’s what I am: a hockey fan.”
Stacey submitted his song, entitled Hockey Night is Here, to the CBC’s Song Quest competition. The winning song will be re-recorded in a studio with noted producer and songwriter Joel Plaskett and will air on Hockey Night in Canada as part of an opening video montage. It will also open Hockey Day in Canada, this year held in Lloydminster, Alberta.
Stacey’s anthem has its roots in 2008, when CBC’s renegotiation for the rights to the famous Hockey Theme, Hockey Night in Canada’s longtime theme, failed. CBC held a contest at that time to find a new anthem to replace it.
“I wrote and recorded it in my parents’ garage with a drum machine, but I didn’t submit it,” says Stacey. “It just wasn’t ready.”
This time around, Hockey Night is Here has been polished up, submitted, and can currently be listened to on the CBC Song Quest website. This new version, with portions recorded at a friend’s house in St. Marys, features crowd chanting, an organ, and the sounds of slapshots and pucks banking off goal posts, as well as new percussion tracks by drummer Graham Hargrove and a bass line by Aidan Keely.
“This song started with the organ fanfare,” says Stacey. “It’s something recognizable to the public, so they know that hockey is about to start.
“The track grew from there.”
The fnal version was mastered by John Hazen and was submitted to the CBC within two hours of its completion.
Stacey is primarily a fiddle player, although he plays guitar and sings on Hockey Night is Here. Specializing in what he calls Canadian trad (traditional Irish and French fiddle music), he’s spent the last 15 years writing pop/rock songs and performing all over the world, from touring Europe and Asia, to busking on the streets of Stratford, to accompanying the Stratford Symphony Orchestra as part of its Celtic Celebration on Jan. 25 at Knox Church.
He also spent four years playing minor hockey in Stratford.
“Then I hung up my skates for a fiddle and a bow,” he laughs.
At this point, though, a great deal of his time has been spent promoting Hockey Night is Here. Posters are popping up all over Stratford in hopes people will log onto CBC’s website and vote for the tune.
“The response has been really positive,” he says, adding one friend has already set the song to a hockey highlight reel and posted it on YouTube.
If you’d like to listen to Stacey’s song, log onto http://music.cbc.ca/#/artists/Dan-Stacey. Online voting begins this Saturday, Nov. 23 and runs until Dec. 11. At that point, the top 50 will be selected, and voting will begin again to choose the top 10.
The winning song will be announced during CBC’s coverage of the NHL’s Winter Classic outdoor game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings on January 1.
That’s a long way off, and Stacey remains down-to-Earth, saying he has no delusions about his jingle replacing the iconic Hockey Theme; although he admits he would enjoy seeing Hockey Night is Here one day occupying some space at the heart of the game.
“If the song speaks to the public, who knows what they’ll do with it,” he says.