I stood in what seemed thunderous chaos. Horses galloped to the right of me, to the left of me. Lances appeared to whisk past my ears. The ground felt as if it were trembling beneath my feet. And I grabbed my dad’s arm, fearing if I didn’t I might topple over. Just audible above the din of the rhythmic panting of the horses and the pounding of their hooves, I could hear singing.
I have lots of thoughts associated with this time of year. Most are memories of the beginnings of summers past. The smell I most relate to this time of year is that of a high school locker; this time, it had to be cleaned out right to the bottom. The sight I most associate with early summer is an open road. It seemed with the first of July we drove to a cottage, a farm, maybe a campground. And the sound? Yes, mosquitoes, but mostly…
“Sittin’ in the sun and listenin’ to rock and roll,” sang Skip Prokop. “Sunny, sunny, sunny days…”
A couple of weeks ago, I had a conversation with some of my journalism students about the annual parade of awards shows – the Grammys, the People’s Choice Awards, the Oscars and the rest. The subject of this year’s Canadian music awards, coming up in April, eventually cropped up. They had all heard of the Junos, sure. But then I asked if anyone knew the origin of the Junos.
“Oh, it’s the name of the Canadian beach on D-Day,” one said.
“Yes, you’re right on the D-Day reference,” I said. “But not the musical one.”
“I know,” said one of my more erudite students. “Juno is the Roman goddess of marriage and queen of the gods.”
“Right again,” I said. “But she’s got nothing to do with the Juno Music Awards in Canada.”
Sam Sniderman changed my Saturdays forever. Back in the 1960s, instead of sleeping in, savouring my coffee, wasting my morning, I high-tailed it downtown to Yonge and Dundas streets, to the store under the spinning-record sign to spend my money on vinyl. Yes, every Saturday morning I raced to take advantage of Sam’s door-crasher specials.
“The best music and the best prices,” Sam Sniderman used to say in his advertisements. But more than that, he also said, “Buy Canadian music because it’s the best.”