More than 25 year after the runaway success of “Life Is a Highway,” Tom Cochrane is still trying come unpack exactly how it forever readjusted his career.

Topping the Canadian charts for six weeks, the furiously optimistic solitary burst top top radio in 1991 and helped lug its album Mad Mad human being to sales heights got to by few Canadian artists: over a million copies.

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Even now, Cochrane appears baffled through the trajectory the turned his “manageable success” together frontman the 1980s rock band Red Rider into an entirely various beast.

“As an artist it shows up like there might be a grasp plan,” that says.

“But I’ve always been a believer in putting one foot ahead of the other and also seeing where it leads.”

In February, the eight-time Juno winner will embark on an anniversary tour that clues the bear of the song and also its seminal album, which to be released in September 1991. The concerts space timed with a reissue the the album, packed through extra goodies because that fans, and a coffee-table publication that’s tho in the works.

It’s not just Cochrane who is noting the occasion.

A stretch that Manitoba highway close to his birthplace in Lynn Lake was renamed in his honour critical October and Calgary’s Studio Bell is holding an exhibition of absent memorabilia indigenous his career that runs until April.


All the this might’ve never happened if an previously take of “Life Is a Highway” hadn’t been rescued indigenous a heap of songs Cochrane assumed were unusable.

First envisioned as “Love Is a Highway,” Cochrane claims his initial version was nixed when he was still in Red Rider.

It to be his friend man Webster, an instrumentalist top top Mad mad World, who urged him come revisit a demo recording through mumbled vocals and also improvised lyrics that still lacked the contagious singalong chorus. The tune was ceiling bones in ~ best and also Cochrane didn’t know what to do with it.

Upon returning from a “shocking and traumatic” visit come West Africa he discovered the answer.

Struck by his experience in the region with the human being Vision starvation relief organization, he was trying to process his think after witnessing level of poverty unlike something he had actually seen before.

“I didn’t realize just how much the would impact my psyche,” the says.

Cochrane essential a happy tune he could “hang the suffer on” and also one morning motivation struck for a new take top top “Life Is a Highway.”

“It came to be a pep speak to myself . . . Saying you can’t really control every one of this stuff, you simply do the best you can,” he says.

“All the details of going into a nation like Mozambique, which was in a protracted civil battle at the time, friend can’t it is in distracted with every one of that.”

Writing some principles out, that rushed right into his backyard recording studio come lay it down.

Within job of that is release, “Life Is a Highway” was anywhere Canadian airwaves.

Stateside, that didn’t take lengthy to record fire either and it climbed come No. 6 on the Billboard hot 100.

“It simply seemed to save going,” a befuddled Cochrane recalls.

On its heels, Mad mad World turned out a couple of other notable singles.


“No Regrets,” “Sinking prefer a Sunset” and also “Washed Away” all charted, but none the them come close come the toughness of “Life Is a Highway.”

Cochrane claims without the an initial hit, it’s unlikely his album would be among Canada’s all-time bestsellers.

“I tho think it was a strong record every the method through, but it wouldn’t have actually been the very same thing,” he says.

“It would’ve gone in a various direction and also perhaps wouldn’t have had actually the influence it had.”

He wishes that past Mad foolish World he’s additionally made a dent in how Canadian artists are regarded on a worldwide scale.

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“I aided pave the way, ns believe, because that artists (being) proud to it is in a Canadian,” the says.

“Back then it was hard to hit for her Canadian identity and stand her ground.”