Strange and beautiful are the stars tonight
In the bustle of a Toronto airport, a familiar face stood out in the crowd.
I gently tapped my wife on the elbow.
“What?” she says. “Look,” I whisper. “Ooooh,” she replies.
She is a major fan of Cuddy and his band, Blue Rodeo.
We see them play once, sometimes twice, a year.
She refers to Jim as her boyfriend.
And there are pictures in my house of my wife and some friends meeting the group after a show many years ago. (Those pics hang alongside a photo of me with a monkey on my head. Not sure of the juxtaposition.)
Anyway, as Cuddy sped past us in T.O. — everyone seems to be in a rush at Pearson International — all I could muster was a pathetic, “Hello!”
He smiled politely, said hi, and kept walking.
There was so much more, on so many levels, I wanted to say.
As a Canadian, I wanted to ask his thoughts on the state if this country. He’s likely crisscrossed it more than anyone, except for maybe Trooper.
As a long-struggling guitar player, I wanted to discuss the chords in the song, “Try.”
As a fan, I wanted to say a simple thank-you.
And as a journalist, I wanted to ask about an encounter during Juno Week a few years ago.
I interviewed Cuddy about the Juno Cup, a charity hockey game a bunch of musicians and ex-NHLers had to raise money for a music education charity.
It was a pretty straightforward story. I wrote it and moved on.
A few nights later, I was working on red carpet coverage with a colleague, grabbing quick quotes from some of the biggest names in Canadian music. (My ears are still ringing from the shrill screams when Justin Bieber sped past.)
As Cuddy walked a red carpet lined with media from across the country, he approached me and pointed out a gaffe in my hockey story.
I was thrilled.
Not because I made a mistake — I hate errors in my copy — but because Jim Cuddy, Canadian music icon, took the time to make note of it on the Junos red carpet!
And he did so in a calm and professional manner. (Not everyone keeps their cool when journalists make mistakes, like insert your local politician’s name here.)
I didn’t think Cuddy would have read the story, let alone remember me or care enough to discuss it on awards night.
The experience remains a journalistic badge of honour, a story usually shared with other reporters over a few beers.
Earlier this month, about two weeks after we crossed paths with Cuddy in the T.O. airport, my wife and I went to see Blue Rodeo headline an outdoor concert.
Cuddy entertained with his typical awesomeness and I regretted not striking up a conversation with him in Toronto.
Just bad timing that’s all.