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When a Song Grows Legs

November 9, 2011
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It is the dream of many aspiring songwriters to write something that can inspire thousands.  Most people don’t expect this to happen with their first recording.  This is what happened to S.A.C. member Bob Reid.  Inspired by the final trek our fallen soldiers take upon returning to Canada, Bob’s song, “Highway of Heroes,” has gotten almost 32,000 hits on Youtube and has been featured at events across the country.  The story of his song and how it has changed his life is a reminder that when a song comes from a genuine source of inspiration it can cut through all the noise of an over-saturated digital space to find an audience that will not only embrace it but give it momentum to take the song, and its writer, the extra mile.

In Bob’s Words…

You know how we have all heard countless songwriters talk about how songs can actually take on a life of their own?  Well, add me to that list.

It was the summer of 2008 when the seeds for what would become my song, “Highway of Heroes,” took root.  The sight of thousands of ordinary people, turning out along Highway 401 to pay their respects when one of our fallen soldiers came home from Afghanistan was an incredible – and uncharacteristic – display of Canadian patriotism, pride, sorrow and gratitude all wrapped up into one.  That emotion came out of me in a song, and when it resonated so strongly with anyone I played it for, I knew for sure that it had to “get born.”

I had never made a “real” record before, but I took the plunge, with help from some ace-talent pals including Blair Packham and Rik Emmett (who graciously donated an absolutely soaring guitar solo), we recorded a single.  With a lot of luck, connections and perhaps just a touch of providence, damned if it didn’t make the physical singles sales charts, hitting No. 1 for one brief, shining week in December of 2009.  That would never have happened without some fortunate media coverage, which led to a call from music retailer HMV, saying they wanted to help (because I ear-mark a share of sale proceeds to www.woundedwarriors.ca).  That connection, in turn, paved the way to a pressing and distribution arrangement with Universal Music Canada, furthering the distribution reach of the physical product, and “Highway of Heroes” managed to hang on to a spot in the Top 40 CD singles sales chart for two, separate, 16-week runs

Bob Reid performs "Highway of Heroes" live at Kandahar Air Field, March 2010

A few months later, I was invited to travel to Afghanistan – to Kandahar Airfield – to play the song for our troops and their NATO allies.  Didn’t see that one coming!  Then, after living with these amazing men and women for a week, and being so inspired by the good and positive work they were doing, a second song started to tumble in me wee brain – a grateful look-ahead to their return home, titled “Soldier, Welcome Home.”  Released on Canada Day of this year, I got to perform it live on CTV’s CANADA AM and at several military-related events, and it has just been adopted by Sears Canada as the official theme song for this year’s Operation Wish initiative, which supports military families with loved ones who can’t be home for Christmas.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought, as someone who has always dabbled in songwriting and performing but never pursued it full-time, that something I wrote sitting at my same old piano would go out into the world and touch so many people, and provide me with such incredible experiences.  And I think it just goes to show that, as the SAC’s slogan says, It All Starts With A Song.  Keep writing.  Keep networking.  Keep chasing your dreams.  You never know when the stars will line up …

Visit Bob Reid’s Songwriter Profile.  Scroll down to see the video for both, “Highway of Heroes,” and “Soldier, Welcome Home.

 

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