Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Best Game You Can Name: The People's Story of Hockey

A Book about Music and Hockey

This past looooooooog off-season I spent a lot of my free time reading hockey books and one of the best I came across was The Tropic of Hockey by Dave Bidini. It's a fascinating account of Dave's Hockey experiences in the far corners of the world and I highly recommend it. Well, it turns out that Dave is also an accomplished musician who plays guitar with the almost famous Canadian rock band the Rheostatics, who according to noted hockey writer and internet columnist Jamie Fitzpatrick wrote the 6th best Hockey Song ever, " The Ballad of Wendel Clark, Parts I and II".

Anyways, Dave has written another book this time combining his (and my) two favorite pursuits... hockey and music.

The Best Game You Can Name: The People's Story of Hockey.

In it Bidini writes about his life on and off the ice with his art/rock hockey team the Morningstars and their pursuit of a league championship. Mixed throughout the narrative are stories and commentary from old-time NHL players and other hockey veterans.

Dave recently talked about his new book at a reading held at the Paddock Pub in Toronto.
Bidini describes the characters that he shares Saturday evenings with throughout the winter, while letting the other characters comment on various inside aspects of the game, all the while showing the connection between guitar gear and hockey gear. One wonders how Bidini came up with the notion to write a book about music and hockey?

"Those two worlds have always been parallel for me, so it wasn't a stretch or anything," he explains. "The part that is the most intriguing is the music — there is one chapter where there are a lot of players talking about their experiences in music as it relates to their lives as hockey players. For me, that's the fascinating thing. I think musicians can wax poetic all we want about the relationship between the two, but it's almost more staggering when you hear someone like Jim Schonfeld or Frank Mahovlich talk about the importance of music in their lives because you never figure that."

According to Bidini the biggest similarity between music and hockey is weird rituals associated with these two activities.
"I think Canadians are slightly bent," he concludes. "I never feel that that side of Canada gets its proper due.But, I do think that hockey subculture does represent that northern weirdness that we embody. That's reflected in the films that come out of Canada and the literature that comes out of Canada and the comedy that is whacked. For some reason we have a perception of ourselves as being white conservative and very up the middle, but there's one side of us that's totally bizarre and hockey reflects that."
I couldn't agree more.

Dave Bidini, check him out, he's real good.


Mike said...

Thanks for bringing this up. I love Bidini's stuff and had no idea he had a new book out. Picked it up this weekend and it was great.

br. t. said...

Mike, I'll be posting more about Bidini soon. I think the guy is probably the best hockey writer out there right now.

Mike said...

I agree completely (Roy McGregor would be right up there if he had a recent hockey book). I've read both of Bidini's hockey books (plus his baseball book - haven't gotten to the rock n roll book yet) and enjoyed them a lot. I wrote a post about my essential hockey reading to pass the lockout last year and I put Tropic of Hockey at the top of the list.