Wartime tale inspires Hollerado's So It Goes

A Second World War tale of forgiveness and compassion is reborn in a song and new music video from Canadian indie band Hollerado.

Lyrics and video recall Second World War experiences, survival of singer's grandfather

Hollerado song honours WW II story

10 years ago
Duration 2:44
Toronto band tells story of lead singer's grandfather

A Second World War tale of forgiveness and compassion is reborn in a song and new music video from Canadian indie band Hollerado.

So It Goes was inspired by songwriter, vocalist and guitarist Menno Versteeg's grandfather: his wartime experiences as a Dutch resistance fighter during the German occupation of the Netherlands and how his life was spared by a Nazi officer. Though Versteeg's grandfather was captured, rather than being executed shortly thereafter as was most often the case, he and the commanding officer shared an honest conversation — after which he was imprisoned for two years. When the Second World War ended, Versteeg's grandfather recounted the story in court as testimony on behalf of the German officer, whose life was spared.

"It's the story of forgiveness in the most horrible of times — there's something inspiring about it," Versteeg told CBC News.

When his grandfather died, his songwriting instinct kicked in and So It Goes was born. This spring, Hollerado travelled to Rotterdam to film the music video, with their locations including the tiny prison cell where Versteeg's grandfather spent two years in solitary confinement. With help from the Dutch government, he was also able to track down and meet the German officer's grandson in Munich.

"Since he heard a lot of bad things about his grandfather, to be able to hear some good things ... it really meant a lot to him," Versteeg said.

Though a departure for Toronto-based Hollerado, which made a name for its viral videos, happy-go-lucky sound and rollicking live performances, So It Goes resonates with a wider audience, says Versteeg. 

"A lot of people, when I tell this story, they can relate to it. Their grandfather was in the war or they're older people and they were in the war [or] their parents were in the war. There are so many similar little stories that people have, that when they hear this it reminds them of something that happened to them and I think that's one of the reasons that people like to hear it," he said.

"This story is a real special story of forgiveness. It's a message that I know in my own life I have to remind myself: to be able to forgive someone who has made me angry or done wrong to me. I want people to listen to the lyrics and hear the story."

On Friday's The National, CBC's Deana Sumanac reports on the powerful story behind Hollerado's So It Goes.