“LIFE IS A HIGHWAY” – Tom Cochrane – The Emily Dahl Foundation

“LIFE IS A HIGHWAY” – Tom Cochrane

More than thirty years after the runaway success of “Life Is a Highway,” Tom Cochrane is still full of energy and will be playing live in Vernon, BC on Monday, November 13, 2023.

Thanks to a tee time set up by my long-time friends Dev Randhawa and Jamie Bannerman, I was surprised to be playing golf with Tom Cochrane on the last day at Predator Ridge on Saturday, October 21. The course was completely empty. When I pulled into the valet area the one team member from Predator said, "you are the only group playing today", and then Dev introduced me to Tom Cochrane, and off we went for a magical ride of golf and visiting. Life IS a Highway of experiences!  

After golf we went for wings and beer, and it was Jamie that asked Tom the story of the hit “Life Is a Highway”. 

First envisioned as “Love Is a Highway,” Cochrane told us his original version was nixed while he was still in Red Rider.

It was his friend John Webster, an instrumentalist on Mad Mad World, who encouraged him to revisit a demo recording with mumbled vocals and improvised lyrics that still lacked the infectious singalong chorus. The song was bare bones at best and Cochrane didn’t know what to do with it.

He told us the story about returning from a “shocking and traumatic” visit to West Africa where he found the answer.

Struck by his experience in the region with the World Vision famine relief organization, he was trying to process his thoughts after witnessing levels of poverty and pain unlike anything he had seen before.

“I didn’t realize how much that would affect me,” he told us. 

Cochrane needed a happy song he could “hang the experience on” and one morning inspiration struck for a new take on “Life Is a Highway.”

Tom said, “It became a positive talk to myself . . . saying you can’t really control all of this stuff, you just do the best you can."   

Writing some ideas out, he rushed into his backyard recording studio to lay it down.

Within days of its release, “Life Is a Highway” was all over Canadian airwaves.

Stateside, it didn’t take long to catch fire either and it climbed to No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“It just seemed to keep going,” a befuddled Cochrane recalls.

The kindness and compassion of Tom was amazing, and I most certainly look forward to spending more time with him in the future. 

In this picture Tom is holding one of the hand carved chains from the well-known Saskatchewan blind carver, Ted Ohlsen. These incredible hand carved wooden chains remind us how we are all connected!  

This verse from "Life is A Highway" is a powerful teaching: 

There's a world outside every darkened door
Where blues won't haunt you anymore 
Where the brave are free and lovers soar
Come ride with me to the distant shore 

-Tom Cochrane 

Sherman Dahl 
The Emily Dahl Foundation
October 22, 2023