A passionate hockey fan and Maple Ridge musician has had a life-long dream come true.
As the Toronto Maple Leafs battled the Calgary Flames on January 31, an original song by Marty Zylstra was played on Hockey Night In Canada.
“It’s pretty crazy,” said the 42-year-old Toronto fan who moved to Maple Ridge in 2016.
“When we were in the studio, the joke with the song was we are going to get this one into the dressing room of my favourite hockey team,” explained Zylstra. And even though the Leafs lost that night in overtime, the Ontario native didn’t mind. He was on top of the world.
Rattle The Glass was played just before a commercial break during the second period as commentators did a break down of a play.
“It kind of all happened so quick,” said Zylstra.
Zylstra describes the song as a “hockey rock song” that came to him as he exercised to video workout programs in the early hours of the morning as his two youngest daughters, aged five and one, slept.
“The trainer would say these cliche phrases like, ‘You’ve got to work through the pain,’ and ‘It’s only temporary,’” and Zylstra thought the generic phrases would make a funny song.
“I sat down one day and wrote it. It kind of all came out at once,” he explained.
His team pitched the song to CBC a week before Zylstra’s new album, Boom Chicka, was released.
The three minute and 40 second song is about overcoming adversity, noted Zylstra, who added lyrics to the verse about Colin Kaepernick taking a stand against police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement.
“We added some of those elements into the verse because it really meant a lot to me at the time, and still does today,” he said. “I’m pretty proud of that, that I could be vocal about my position on some of these movements.”
Boom Chicka is the first solo LP for Zylstra who, after moving to Vancouver in the late 1990’s, had been playing in a Beatle’s tribute band all over the Lower Mainland for the past seven years until COVID-19 hit and live shows were cancelled. He started work on the album in January of 2019.
“This one is more whimsical than the previous record,” he said referencing his last solo record called The Dragonfly and the Spider, which, he described as more like a mini-album.
In Boom Chicka a lot of songs are based on themes of grief and overcoming trauma. Something Zylstra knows too well after losing his mother and younger sister within the last five years. During his grief, he reset his entire creative outlook.
“I’m writing songs that are based in real themes and strong, powerful emotions,” said the musician.
“You can still overcome trauma. You can still overcome grief. And you can still find the joy and love in the simple things like family and friends.”
His love for The Beatles is also evident.
The music of the year 1967 has had a huge influence on his music career, noted Zylstra, especially Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the legendary British band.
He is also a fan of American pop pre-Beatles like The Everly Brothers, The Beach Boys and The Four Seasons; as well as Motown, and Canadiana.
“I listen to all music,” he said, although his writing style, he admits, tends to be 60’s pop and British Invasion.
Zylstra’s favourite song on his album is Shine So Bright. It is based on the story Love You Forever by children’s author Robert Munsch. In the story a mother sings a song – “I’ll love you forever; I’ll like you for always; as long as I’m living; my baby you’ll be” – to her son every day.
At the end of the book, described Zylstra, the mother is old and it is her son who carries her, rocks her and puts her into bed, singing the same lyrics. Then the son goes home and sings that song to his own daughter.
”Shine So Bright is my version of that story. It’s my mom singing me a song and then me singing that to my daughters,” he said.
“I felt when I wrote that song I accomplished something new which was to tell a really beautiful story that meant a lot to me,” added the father of three.
Zylstra can’t wait until he will be able to play the festival circuit again. But for now he will have to wait. So, he has already started working on his next record.
“It will be changing gears a little bit and going to a bit of a different sound than the first two,” he said.
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