Ron Hynes has been blessed with an emotionally rich voice, now under threat from cancer treatments he must undergo. The voice that carried a thousand songs may never be the same.
What is the importance of that voice, and his particular style of Newfoundland music?
A quick walk through Fred’s Records may tell you.
There are dozens of Newfoundland artists today — Amelia Curran, Erin Best and The Dardanelles, to name a few — still lighting and carrying a torch for The Rock, still blending themes of love and loss with the sound of the sea — a sound we know, and that is known the world over as ours.
This was something Ron talked about in an interview he did many years ago. At the time, his view that the artists of this province are our greatest resource may have seemed overly dramatic. But his words have stood the test of time.
Back in April 2000 when he talked of being an influence on younger artists, he said, “I’m glad to help them because I want to see music and its ongoing creativity sustained in the province of Newfoundland.”
“We have nothing else,” he continued.
“They can get as good doctors here as anywhere in the world. But they will never get the artists or musicians that grow up in this province. Because they are really unique artists. So I want to see that survive.”
The genius of Ron Hynes is his openness. In his music, in conversation, in interviews, you may not like everything he says, but you are stunned and awed by the way he says it.
The outpouring of support for him now with concerts and tributes is not really surprising. Ron had his rise through the St. John’s music scene. He had his fall, and he had his rise and rise again.
He won us over.
He was like us — living here, loving here, screwing up, then winning. Somehow he was able to constantly put it all to music that became iconic.
He can make you cry over his child’s dog (“A Good Dog is Lost”), and find comfort after a suicide (“Godspeed”).
The idea that his voice may be taken from us, well, it is unthinkable. But of course we have the recordings. We have “House” and “Constance” and “Sonny’s Dream,” and just about a thousand more, all waiting to take us on that bumpy, exhilarating, one-way trip to “Cryer’s Paradise.”
Ron’s music is not for the weak-spirited. But then again, nothing that comes out of The Rock ever is, or could be.
In 2000 he said, “I’m not what’s important. The song is what’s important. Songs are about communication. You have to get something, you know?”
We know, Ron. Thanks.
Get better soon.
Kathleen Lippa is a journalist in Ontario.