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Why Gordie Johnson Digs O Canada - Vacay Canada

Article by Adrian Brijbassi in Rock 'n Roll Road Trips

CALGARY, ALBERTA — For many of us who first heard it, Gordie Johnson’s electric rendition of “O Canada!” delivered a jolt of patriotism that went beyond hockey glory and pats on the back for being polite. Johnson did to our national anthem what Jimi Hendrix had done to the “Star Spangled Banner” at Woodstock in 1969: He made it cool, he made it relevant to the times, and he told us it was okay to be brash, to show off, and even to break the rules.

In 1994, Johnson played his version of the song onMuchMusic, strangling with the strings of his Gibson guitar our perception that the song should be staid and demure. It was wickedly good, that rock ‘n roll treatment, and it smashed beliefs that we couldn’t be bombastic. During this year’s Calgary Stampede, Johnson was on stage with Big Sugar, the band he formed in the late 1980s, and he closed the show with the anthem, playing his double-neck guitar behind his head while flashing the Canadian flag painted on the back side of the instrument. As usual, it was a rousing moment.

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