Originally released in 1988, the single “Big League” has become a Canadian anthem of sorts in the years since. Sadly, it took on a whole new meaning in the wake of the Humboldt tragedy last weekend.
The song tells the story of an anguished hockey parent whose son had earned a scholarship to play with a big American team, until tragedy strikes.
The lyrics are based on a true story. Cochrane told The National Post in 2015 it was inspired by a parent who approached him before a show at a rink. “He came up and he said, ‘My boy’s a big fan of (1986 single) ‘Boy Inside The Man.’ And I said, ‘Oh, is he coming to the show? We’re playing it tonight,'” the singer recalled. “And he said, ‘No, he passed away, he was an aspiring hockey player.’ And that just hit me like a ton of bricks.”
As a tribute to the Humboldt Broncos and all those affected by the tragedy, Cochrane performed a poignant unplugged version this week.
No Canadian will ever hear the song the same way again.