Man of a Thousand Songs

A Newfoundland legend has passed.

Ron Hynes lost his battle with cancer yesterday, but the St. John’s native and the “man of a thousand songs” will be remembered in this province as one of our best and most talented singer-songwriters.

I’ve loved Ron’s music ever since he performed as front man with the Wonderful Grand Band on a local early-80’s TV show. But when I saw him sing and play at the Fat Cat on George Street one night in the early nineties, I knew he would be an enduring musical storyteller and an artistic treasure.

Sonny’s Dream, his most famous song internationally, has been recorded by many artists such as Valdy and Emmy Lou Harris. Have a listen:

As much as I love that song, the following is perhaps my personal favourite. The lyrics alone, in my opinion, elevate its author Ron to the deserving title of our finest wordsmith and poet.

St. John's Harbour
St. John’s Harbour

St. John’s Waltz
by Ron Hynes

Oh the harbour lights are gleaming
And the evening’s still and dark
And the seagulls are all dreaming
Seagull dreams on Amherst Rock
And the mist is slowly drifting
As the storefront lights go dim
And the moon is gently lifting
As the last ship’s coming in

All the sailors got a story
Some are true, some are false
But they’re always wrecked
and they’re up on the deck
Dancin’ the St. John’s Waltz

Amherst Rock Jennifer's Journal
Fort Amherst (Amherst Rock)
Jennifer’s Journal

Oh we’ve had out share of history
We’ve seen nations come and go
We’ve seen battles rage over land and stage
Four hundred years and more
For glory or for freedom
For country or for king
Or for money or fame but there are no names
On the graves where men lie sleeping

All the nine to fives survive the day
With a sigh and a dose of salts
And they’re parkin’ their cars and packin’ the barsRON-HYNES
Dancin’ the St. John’s Waltz

Oh my heart is on the highway
And I’m sold on goin’ to sea
All the planes fill the skyway
The trains run swift and free
So leave the wayward free to wander
Leave the restless free to roam
If it’s rocks in the bay or it’s old cliche
You’ll find your way back home

So don’t question or inquire
What’s been gained, what’s been lost
In a world of romance don’t miss out on the chance
To be Dancin’ the St. John’s Waltz

Rest in peace, Mr. Hynes.
Your music will continue to live on through our playlists and in our hearts.



Dad in his "Saxophone Era" at age 19 with his dog Texie (1953)
Dad in his “Saxophone Era” at age 19 with his dog Texie (1953)

In a recent telephone conversation with my aunt in the U.S., we got to talking about my dad (her brother), in his early years. Long before he fell in love with and married my mother, my father was an interesting fellow in his own right, excelling in his school studies and discovering his deep passion for all things musical.

Most likely because of the popularity of the big bands and swing music back in the day, his first musical instrument of choice was the saxophone.

Later, when icons like Johnny Cash, Chet Atkins, and Glen Campbell, to name a few, came on the scene, Dad took up the guitar. When Beatlemania exploded, he joyously took part by buying their albums  and learning to play many of their songs. As many can attest, he stayed devoted to guitar music the rest of his life.

Dad at age 21 on Albany Street, St. John's (1955)
Dad at age 21 on Albany Street, St. John’s (1955)

As you can see from the above photo, my father was very thin when he was young. But after he married Mom, he began the quest of bodybuilding, transforming himself into the strong, well-muscled dad his children grew up with.

Pondering these things about my father made me think about the power of reinventing oneself. Sometimes the reinvention is necessary for survival, for instance a health issue demanding change. Other times it is a choice we make in the belief it will make us happier and more fulfilled.

I have had some reinventions of my own throughout my life. A few examples:

1. stay-at-home mom

2. customer representative in a bank

3. writer and blogger

Number three became possible when my husband and I did what my parents had done later in their lives: made the big move out of the city and into the country. Doing so gave me new insight into why they made such a change, and the benefits of this lifestyle which happen to better suit our personalities too.

People who cannot invent and reinvent themselves must be content with borrowed postures, secondhand ideas, fitting in instead of standing out. ~ Warren G. Bennis

Have you done anything in your life to reinvent yourself? I’d love to hear from you if you have your own tale of reinvention to share. Don’t be shy. 🙂

~~Special thanks to Auntie who sent me these precious photos XOXO~~