Ron Hynes, Man of a Thousand Songs

Ron Hynes: a great Newfoundland singer/songwriter, was born on December 7, 1950. He was The Man of a Thousand Songs. And there are at least a thousand stories about the man himself. Here are four:

1) How Ron got his handle: Ron became The Man of a Thousand Songs when he was just established enough to be traveling most of the time, but not famous. He did have an agent though, and one day she called him and said a club owner wanted to hire him but first the guy wanted to know how many songs Ron could play. Ron said, “Tell him a thousand. What’s he going to do? Ask me to play them all for him? One…two…three…”

2) Moose Burgers: The story below is recounted in a 2011 thread about Ron’s song ‘Sonny’s Dream’ on the Mudcat Cafe folk website:

About 5 years ago I went to Newfoundland to take in the Folk Festival being held in St. John’s. While at the festival I met a man who gave me hell because I bought a moose burger from a stand that was not his. “Why didn’t you buy it here at this stand. I provide the meat here “. I apologized and then realized that I was speaking to Ron Hynes. He followed up by saying ” You main landers will believe anything”.   We spoke for a while and he asked where I was from and what I did. I told him I was retired but kept myself busy running a folk festival. He said “Why don’t you book me”. I replied that I wouldn’t be able to afford him. He said “How do you know? call my business agent in Dartmouth Nova Scotia and talk to her”. He was very serious. I told him that in fact I would be in Dartmouth in less than 2 weeks as I was going there taking my grand son to visit.
I met Lynn Horne at Chapters book store and in less than an hour we parted not but shaking hands but by hugging each other and with an agreement that Ron would come to Quebec and play at our festival.
Great lady

3)  Rewriting his famous song ‘I’ll Be There Christmas Eve’ for the Ennis Sisters in their living room:

Ron became so popular in Newfoundland it’s been said that if Elvis Presley had come to Newfoundland back then he could have opened for Ron Hynes. A lot of people were covering his songs, among them three teenage girls in St Johns with beautiful voices; the Ennis Sisters. They wanted to sing ‘I’ll Be There Christmas Eve,’ which in Ron’s original version tells the story of a hung-over sailor asking his girlfriend to have faith in him until he gets home for Christmas. The girls’ dad/manager didn’t think the lyrics were quite appropriate for his young daughters so, he screwed up his courage, called Ron Hynes, and asked him to change the lyrics for his daughters. And Ron Hynes did! He went to their house, sat in their living room and rewrote the song. That’s why there are two versions on the internet. One is Ron (and others) singing the original. The other is Ron’s rewrite for the Ennis Sisters, sung by them (and others).

4) Stealing Genius: An album that just goes to show you it ain’t over ’till it’s over.

When he was in his late fifties Ron grounded on personal shoals. A relationship ended, the songwriter’s words weren’t coming. He’d had a good run with music, maybe it was time to be a carpenter or something. Then he found a book by a Canadian poet telling Canadian stories. His passion revived. A friend lent him a house where he took that book and others by writers from the Maritime Provinces. He worked the days away, taking breaks to eat, sleep and walk the dog. He melded those stories into his own words and music, turning out a brilliant album that includes one of the scariest ghost stories ever, a song that weaves life’s gambles into a popular Maritime card game, and ‘House’ which I sing sometimes when I work on my place.


Fella From Fortune/I’s Da By’s (from wild and crazy folk/rock/jigs and reels/comedy days with The Wonderful Grand Band sometime between 1978-1983 tremendous energy that doesn’t need to take itself too seriously):

Sonny’s Dream: Probably Ron’s most famous song that’s been covered by hundreds of artists:

For decades he captured, better than anyone, the essence of Newfoundland in its pre-television, isolated, self-reliant, hard working glory. Here’s the trailer for a documentary about Ron.