Innisfail cowboy singer Ivan Daines was so moved by the emergency evacuation of 90,000 Fort McMurray residents that he wrote a song about their plight.
His “Stompin’ Tom-esque” tune, Fort McMurray Wildfire, has gotten more than 3,000 international hits through two YouTube versions. It’s also getting picked up by some country radio stations right across Canada — from Kamloops, B.C. to Acton Vale, Que.
“It’s getting a fair amount of play. I’m pleased with it, because I’m very proud of this song,” said Daines, who’s donating radio royalties, as well as proceeds from CD sales, to the Fort McMurray Food Bank.
With a chorus of “The oil capital of Canada is burnin’/Fort McMurray is smoke-filled and hurtin’,” the song is striking a chord with listeners.
Many Alberta radio stations are playing it, including in Olds, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Camrose, Drumheller, Pincher Creek, Cochrane and Okotoks. Hugh McLennan also aired the song on his syndicated radio show, Spirit of the West, which is carried by 25 stations across Canada and the U.S.
McLennan feels the tune tells the story of the Fort McMurray fire in a straight-forward, sincere way. “Ivan has a gift for writing a song in a short time and getting it produced and recorded… You can tell he feels strongly about it… He has such passion when he writes.”
The tune is described as having a Stompin’ Tom Connors feel by Joe Wood, of RDR Music Group of Toronto, which has been distributing Fort McMurray Wildfire to radio stations across Canada.
Wood said the tune “is simple in nature, has a point, and is very honest.”
While most country play lists lean towards country-pop, exceptions were made for Fort McMurray Wildfire because of its subject matter and homespun style, added the music distributor, whose clients range from Garth Brooks to Bif Naked.
“Ivan has a legacy… He’s of the Ian Tyson cloth, a singing cowboy — the real deal.”
Daines is a Canadian Rodeo Hall of Fame inductee who has been songwriting for 50 years — even back when he was a champion saddle bronc rider in the 1970s to early ‘80s. He believes the Fort McMurray Wildfire song is one of his best efforts.
It was written after Daines was emotionally stirred by the “powerful” images of residents from Alberta’s oil-production capital fleeing the flames last month. Neighbourhoods in the city were turned into ash, as rows of evacuees escaped down Hwy 63 with walls of flames on either side.
Many Fort McMurray residents were left with only the possessions they could load in their vehicles.
Daines said the “inspirational” lyrics came fairly quickly, but then were revised over a day.
He added details to the song — such as mentioning generous donations given by the Flames and Oilers hockey teams, as well as by the St. Louis Blues, who have winger Scottie Upshall of Fort McMurray.
The tune was produced by Don Kletke (Ray Griff) of Calgary’s Encore Studios, who added the bass line, lead guitar, and drum track. Daines feels the instrumentation is “perfect” because it doesn’t overpower the lyrics.
While he’s pleased Fort McMurray Wildfire is getting some traction across the country, Daines wishes it was played by local stations, such as Red Deer’s CKGY.
Anyone wanting the song can call Daines at 403-358-2295. It’s also available on Facebook, or the Buy and Sell site in Blackfalds and Lacombe. The CD version canbe picked up for $5 from the Innisfail Auction Mart, or Weidner Motors or the Alberta Treasury Branch in Lacombe. Proceeds benefit the Fort McMurray Food Bank.