Posthumous Ron Hynes album is powerful, says longtime friend
The owner of a popular St. John's music store says Ron Hynes' newly-released posthumous album may sound like a "bare bones" recording, but it showcases songwriting at its finest.
"Some very beautiful, subtle references to the theme of one's mortality shine through in a lot of these tunes," Tony Ploughman, owner of Fred's Records, told CBC Radio's On The Go of the album Later That Same Life.
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"The art of songwriting was Ron's stock and trade, I don't think there's anyone better quite frankly."
Hynes said he still struggled with speaking and singing last January, two years after receiving chemotherapy for a cancerous tumour in his throat.
After a second bout of cancer, this time in his hip and lungs, the legendary Newfoundland singer-songwriter died in November at the age of 64.
One of Ploughman's favourite tracks on Later That Same Life is Marie, a song based on the life of Newfoundland's first opera singer, Georgina Stirling — known by her stage name Marie Toulinguet.
Toulinguet, originally from Twillingate, studied and performed with prestigious opera groups across Europe.
"He probably feels a bit of a soul connection with her," Ploughman said.
"Her career was cut short by a throat ailment and, sadly, she died of cancer … and I think just the whole beauty of the simplicity of how that song is written, a gorgeous melody. There's an emotional power and prowess in Ron's tone in that song."
Ploughman met Hynes in 1981, at "the height of the Wonderful Grand Band phenomenon."
He last spoke with the musician a couple of weeks before Hynes was diagnosed with cancer for a second time.
"We had a moment that I'll cherish all the more now … I just kind of put my arm over his shoulder and said, 'I think about you a lot.' I think it caught both of us off guard and he was speechless," said Ploughman.
And while there's little fanfare surrounding Later That Same Life, Ploughman said Hynes was eager for its music to be heard.
"He was excited about this album coming out, he had hoped to have it out by the beginning of December and, you know, he was ready to tour."