OTTAWA — When Premier Stephen McNeil told Nova Scotians to “stay the blazes home” Friday, some people heard a stern, coronavirus-related public service announcement — others heard a song.
Jon Landry, front man for the Halifax-based rock band The Stanfields, said he was watching McNeil’s press conference with his wife, Shannon, when they heard the turn of phrase.
“[She] turned to me and said, ‘That’s a song, you know.’ And we laughed about it, she even hummed a few bars of the chorus,” Landry told HuffPost Canada.
“I swear, the exchange was 15 seconds long. We just went about our business for the rest of the evening and watched ‘Tiger King’ just like everybody else.”
Watch: A CanCon soundtrack for social distancing. Story continues below video.
McNeil blasted “reckless and selfish” Nova Scotians for continuing their shopping habits, business-as-usual. He said that kind of behaviour risks community spread of the virus.
“And then everyone is putting pressure on the public health to solve it, our healthcare system to deal with it, and government to pay for it, when all we have to do is stay the blazes home,” he said before getting up from his seat, walking out of the broadcast camera’s frame.
That was Friday. By Saturday, the Landrys wrote the lyrics, with nods to the premier and Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health. That afternoon, they shared a recording to a kitchen party-themed Facebook group where it was a hit.
“We’ve been professional musicians for 15 years and, you know, work on albums that can’t even get that kind of traction half the time,” he said.
By Sunday, the local radio station was asking for a studio version of the song.
Band members recorded tracks from each of their home studios. By Monday, while the song was getting mixed, they filed clips from their homes for the music video.
“Everybody was just trying to out-weird each other,” Landry said. He called the whirlwind project “absolutely exhausting” and “an awful lot of fun.”
Premier ’grateful’ for ingenuity and charity of Nova Scotians
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, there are 293 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, the contagious respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus. The disease has been linked with one death as of Tuesday.
The message to stay home is important, Landry explained, adding it’s “critical” people follow the physical distancing measures recommended by health and government officials.
A sign of the time, the song includes acoronavirus-era disclaimer promising: “NO ACTUAL PEOPLE WERE PHYSICALLY TOGETHER FOR THE PRODUCTION OF THIS SONG.”
He said sales from downloaded copies of the track will go to Feed Nova Scotia, an organization that supplies more than 140 food banks across the province.
“It feels good to help,” he said. “It feels good to use the skills that you have to help the people who need it.”
People are having fun with the phrase, and I think it is good to find humour at a time like this – we can all use a bit of that right now.Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil
McNeil told HuffPost that his message to “Stay the blazes home” was intended to appeal to Nova Scotians.
“People are having fun with the phrase, and I think it is good to find humour at a time like this – we can all use a bit of that right now.”
The premier said he’s impressed by The Stanfields and loves the song and how they, and other Nova Scotians, took the phrase and ran with it.
“I have enjoyed listening to the songs and seeing the different things Nova Scotians are coming up with,” he said. “Local businesses have made mugs and T-shirts and are donating proceeds to our local charities; food banks, shelters, and other organizations that support Nova Scotians impacted by COVID-19. I’m grateful for that.”
McNeil said he wants the public to wholly embrace the message to stay at home and follow public health guidelines.
“Flattening the curve is in all of our hands,” he said.
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