Watch Paul Brandt perform 'Small Towns and Big Dreams,' dedicated to Humboldt, Sask.
“Sometimes the only thing that you can do is just walk alongside people because you can't fix it,” he says.
The country is in collective grief following the tragedy in Saskatchewan, in which a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team collided with a tractor-trailer, with many of the people on board the bus losing their lives and others seriously injured. In situations like this, it's hard to know what to say.
"Sometimes the only thing that you can do is just walk alongside people because you can't fix it," says Calgary country musician Paul Brandt, who just performed a special version of his song, "Small Towns and Big Dreams," in honour of the victims and their families. "When word came of the tragedy just a few nights ago, my wife and I were devastated. I mean we were up late into the night and thinking about these people and praying for them. And I think that the whole country feels that way."
"Small Towns and Big Dreams" was originally released in 2001, but Brandt had recently rewritten the song, giving it a hockey theme, after Ron McLean asked him if he'd consider doing a hockey song for his Hometown Hockey broadcast.
"I grew up in a small town, hockey night in my hometown kind of place," he sings on the new version. "I never knew what life would bring but I always had big dreams."
Brandt originally performed the song across the country, "in small towns and places that nobody goes, places like Humboldt, and it was a song that really seemed to connect to people's hearts and minds," he says. "Small towns and hockey they go together hand in hand."
Although he never realized he'd be performing it following such a tragedy. It's not an easy one to play given the circumstances, and even just talking about the song afterwards, he tears up.
"You have to kind of shut your emotions off when you're playing it, and you can see like they're flooding out now, but it's, yeah, I'm just, I'm so thankful for the gift of music and how it can actually come into situations like this and provide comfort and healing, hopefully, in some way. We just want them to know that we're with them."