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.
Steve Bartlett is an editor with SaltWire Network. He dives into the Deep End Mondays to escape reality and small monkeys. He’d love to hear about your encounters with the famous or infamous. Reach him at email@example.com.