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The troubadour

Ron Hynes
Ron Hynes

God only knows what takes a petal from the rose What makes the dark rivers overflow What makes a lifetime come and go — Ron Hynes, “Godspeed”

If you had never seen Ron Hynes before, you’d be in for a bit of a shock.
His battles with drug and alcohol addictions took their toll over the years. He had a permanent frown, with crooked teeth and sunken cheeks.
He wasn’t always that way. In the early days, he was handsome, a nicely coiffed troubadour who just happened to write one of the most popular folk songs in the world.
But self-abuse left its mark, not only on his appearance but on his relationships. He was adored by fans, but not always by acquaintances. He could be abrasive and infinitely cocky.
And he knew it.
Nonetheless, he had a knack for the perfect song: the perfect turn of phrase, the perfect hook, the perfect union of verse, chorus and bridge.
That man, that complicated meeting of flesh, bone and spirit, is now gone. All we have left are the fruits of his genius.
And what fruits they are.
His seemingly endless repertoire was the soundtrack of our souls, his words the story of our lives.
The outpouring of emotion since Thursday night has truly spoken to the gift Ron Hynes was to the people of this province.
Some called him the Bob Dylan of Newfoundland — but the tone from those pouting lips was far more silken and natural. He never lost that youthful lilt when he sang. You could drift away on the easy rise and fall of his voice.
He was the man of a thousand songs. And they were our songs. They were and are a mirror on our own lives, our hopes and dreams, our comforts and fears.
Hynes remained largely anonymous to the world outside Atlantic Canada.
He had his moments abroad. He spent some time in Nashville. He did some touring, and he won some awards.
But he never really gained much traction. Much of that had to do with his life choices, as well as his determination to remain true to his music. He was nobody’s servant.
The only exception was “Sonny’s Dream,” a ballad performed and recorded the world over.
In Ireland, Hynes actually met with disdain by some in the audience who insisted the beloved song was a home-grown classic.
Right until cancer finally cut him down, however, Ron Hynes could be found in a downtown St. John’s pub on any given weekend.
You could pay a small cover charge and listen to the master himself. Until his dying days, he remained the troubadour in the corner.
That will be one lonely corner now.

If you had never seen Ron Hynes before, you’d be in for a bit of a shock.
His battles with drug and alcohol addictions took their toll over the years. He had a permanent frown, with crooked teeth and sunken cheeks.
He wasn’t always that way. In the early days, he was handsome, a nicely coiffed troubadour who just happened to write one of the most popular folk songs in the world.
But self-abuse left its mark, not only on his appearance but on his relationships. He was adored by fans, but not always by acquaintances. He could be abrasive and infinitely cocky.
And he knew it.
Nonetheless, he had a knack for the perfect song: the perfect turn of phrase, the perfect hook, the perfect union of verse, chorus and bridge.
That man, that complicated meeting of flesh, bone and spirit, is now gone. All we have left are the fruits of his genius.
And what fruits they are.
His seemingly endless repertoire was the soundtrack of our souls, his words the story of our lives.
The outpouring of emotion since Thursday night has truly spoken to the gift Ron Hynes was to the people of this province.
Some called him the Bob Dylan of Newfoundland — but the tone from those pouting lips was far more silken and natural. He never lost that youthful lilt when he sang. You could drift away on the easy rise and fall of his voice.
He was the man of a thousand songs. And they were our songs. They were and are a mirror on our own lives, our hopes and dreams, our comforts and fears.
Hynes remained largely anonymous to the world outside Atlantic Canada.
He had his moments abroad. He spent some time in Nashville. He did some touring, and he won some awards.
But he never really gained much traction. Much of that had to do with his life choices, as well as his determination to remain true to his music. He was nobody’s servant.
The only exception was “Sonny’s Dream,” a ballad performed and recorded the world over.
In Ireland, Hynes actually met with disdain by some in the audience who insisted the beloved song was a home-grown classic.
Right until cancer finally cut him down, however, Ron Hynes could be found in a downtown St. John’s pub on any given weekend.
You could pay a small cover charge and listen to the master himself. Until his dying days, he remained the troubadour in the corner.
That will be one lonely corner now.

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