Single Premiere: Ben Somer, “99 (A Hockey Song)”

Ben Somer, “99 (A Hockey Song)”

The one that she adored wasn’t Messier or Orr / She liked Gordie Howe just fine, but he’s still half of 99 / She kept him on her bedroom wall, a poster her first kiss / And she knew her love would hit the mark, the Great One he don’t miss.”

Beating the buzzer before the start of a new NHL season, Hamilton, ON singer-songwriter (and producer) Ben Somer releases “99 (A Hockey Song)” today, an ode to the legendary Hockey Hall-of-Famer known to all as “The Great One.”  With some well-crafted lyrics, Ben reminisces about a childhood crush on a girl, who in turn was in love with Number 99. Try as he might, how could he compete?  How could anybody compete with Wayne Gretzky, The Great One?

“Growing up, I was a huge Gretzky fan. I had the old black and silver Kings jersey with the iconic 99 on it. I wasn’t a particularly gifted hockey player, but I loved it. I used to shoot on a net in my driveway all the time when I was a kid, and just daydream,” Ben recalls. “But even then, when I was fantasizing about winning the Stanley Cup, I’d always be imagining tapping in a perfect pass from Wayne. Even in my imagination I was playing second fiddle to The Great One. He was just that good.”

Ben Somer

Accompanied by his pretty tight band, The Cold Winter, this polished, bouncy, bluegrass-tinged tune quickly fills your ears with nostalgic whimsy.  “I wrote the song quite a while ago, and actually had some luck getting a demo on Hockey Night in Canada when they did a broadcast out of my hometown arena in Dundas for Hockeyville several years ago,” Ben offers. “I ended up recording this version with my pals in the now-defunct band Harlan Pepper. They were entering a hockey songwriting contest through CBC and needed a studio to record at, so I traded them studio time in exchange for them backing me up on my own tune. I had hoped to put my song out on an album, but ended up just sitting on it for a while.”

Atop this stellar team of players, Ben’s conversational and laidback vocal delivery reminds me of some of John K Samson’s solo work, complete with some brushed marching drums, mandolin fills, and immaculate production.  You don’t even have to be a hockey fan, but it helps.  “It’s been a song I’ve played live for years, and one that I think the crowds always seem to gravitate towards, so I’m excited to release the recording and hopefully get it out to a new audience,” Ben states. “And of course, it had to be a love song, because aren’t they all?”

Be sure to spend some time today sharing Ben’s memories of The Great One, as we prepare for the puck to drop tonight and officially signal the return of our National Sport.  “I’m a Leafs fan, so I’ve learned to temper my expectations [for the season],” Ben adds, when asked about his own hockey allegiance. “I try to be hopeful, but always prepared for the worst. I think that’s probably something that shows up in my songwriting from time to time as well.”  “99 (A Hockey Song)” shall appear on Ben’s upcoming album, “Ben Somer & The Cold Winter,” out November 4th via Down By The Point Records – with this track available for streaming right now across most digital platforms.

All my blood and all my scars / Oh my love, oh my lucky stars / All my blood and all my scars / Oh my love, oh my God / Past the hash marks, through the dot / Duck and cover, a slap shot / All my blood and all my scars / I’d trade all my hockey cards.

A bit of a Renaissance man, Steve Murphy is a singer-songwriter, author, and journalist based out of London, Ontario. An avid vinyl collector and audiophile, his personal collection of albums is wide ranging and in the thousands, including four released from his band Westminster Park.

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