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Welcome to Norm Hacking's
home on the web!

Updated June 30, 2004
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& past gig links

When Cats Go Wrong











It's a BOOK!!! see exciting news after the intro paragraph!

For more than 30 years, Norm Hacking has been winning loyal fans and critical acclaim for his beautifully crafted songs, with their moving and often humorous insights into life, love, songwriting - and cats! His latest CD Orange Cats Make the Very Best Friends (with fabulous multi-instrumentalist Kirk Elliott) is making many new friends who send him stories of their own feline best friends. One of the songs "When Cats Go Wrong" is the text of an upcoming (Oct. 2004) book illustrated by Cynthia Nugent - bookstores can order from Raincoast now!

Norm's songs "capture a very real slice of life. They are easy to relate to yet are neither simple nor boring... Hacking, like John Steinbeck, understands the depths of very simple situations and the simplicity of very complicated events." A stellar group of Canadian and U.S. songwriters recorded 18 of his songs for One Voice: A Tribute to Norm Hacking, Vol. 1, and a second volume is in progress. Norm's 1996 "best-of" CD Skysongs... A Writer's Collection was remastered and reissued in late 2001. Watch for The Ache CD in 2004. Norm created a real musical community as a warmly encouraging host of several fine Toronto open stage series. His performances with his acoustic guitar (often solo), his songs and recitations are totally engaging. This website includes some of Norm's lyrics and prose and lots of information on his recordings (distributed by Festival online or at 1-800-633-8282 or in stores), appearances, upcoming book and more.


Norm's song "When Cats Go Wrong" (from the Orange Cats CD) is an illustrated children's book available in October - preview on TV July 1. Norm plays Northern Lights Festival Boreal in Sudbury July 2-4!

When Cats Go Wrong book coverIt's a book very soon!!! Thursday July 1 - CTV national television news includes an interview with Cynthia Nugent, illustrator of Norm's upcoming "When Cats Go Wrong" book 6 - 7 p.m. (around 6:40?) local time across Canada. "When Cats Go Wrong" is a favourite from the Norm Hacking & Kirk Elliott Orange Cats CD. In early October the beautifully illustrated book version - including a CD single - will be widely available in bookstores. Meet illustrator Cynthia Nugent on this CTV news segment. Ask your favourite bookstore to order now from Raincoast Books (ISBN 1-55192-729-2)! See a full page on the book and When Cats Go Wrong lyrics (the book text).
"Life with a naughty kitty
 Isn't very pretty.
 So I sing this mournful song
 About when cats go wrong."

NLFB logo, click for websiteNEWS FLASH!!!
NORM is performing at
Great line-up and price - tickets are on sale NOW!
More info on Norm's coming up page and NLFB festival page.

In his June "Race Track Hack" column for Taxi News "A Folk Singer's Riches" Norm recalls his start in folk music - it's still on-line here

For Canada Day reading on this web site:

Stories for July 1st (written for Canada Day in July 2002) about his grandparents and uncle relates "three stories, three more patches for the quilt, the Great Canadian Mosaic."

Lyrics of "This One's the Dreamer" (Norm's anthem to Canada; on Orange Cats CD and One Voice tribute album, where it's performed by Rick Fielding)

SEE MORE NEWS, still relevant, on the new separate NEWS page!
There is still duplication - separation of pages still in progress.

A note on chords for "Cats Everywhere" has been added to the lyrics. Reminder - links to lyrics for nine of Norm's songs, a poem and his prose are here.

Fourteen of Norm's "Race Track Hack" columns are on this website - most have been added in February and March 2004, with most recent being for Rick Fielding, who died on March 20, and Norm's start as a folk singer (watch for more columns):
Mar 1996 - Who is Race Track Hack? by Syd The Cat
Sept 1998 - A Reminiscence with Friends [about Syd]
Apr 1999 - The Cat Came Back
Sept 2000 - My Friend Lloyd [Lloyd Landa]
July 2002 - Some Stories for July 1st [Norm's grandparents and uncle]
May 2003 - Dates with the Dead Pt 1 - Lunch with Bogie
June 2003 - Dates with the Dead Pt 2 - Dinner with Marilyn
July 2003 - Catman [why Norm started writing songs about cats]
Aug 2003 - May I Reflect?
Oct 2003 - About Angels
Dec 2003 - Maybe One More

Feb 2004 - Big Hearts
Apr 2004 - For Rick Fielding
June 2004 - A Folk Singer's Riches [Norm's first gigs]

Norm's latest "Race Track Hack" column for Taxi News is always here.

Norm's three CDs are available via SECURE WEB SALES through Festival Distribution - just click on catalogue and search on "Hacking" (faster if you specify CD and Canadian) - with Canadian or U.S. prices!  Festival continues to offer telephone orders via their toll-free number (1-800-633-8282 in U.S. and Canada) and supply major stores in Canada.  Festival's top-30-album description of the Orange Cats CD is linked by clicking the "top titles" tab at the top of their website. More info on Festival and other sources for Norm's CDs here.

URGENT:  If you're in Toronto and can adopt a cat or kitten or make a tax-receiptable donation, see below or go directly to the Annex Cat Rescue website for profiles and photos of felines needing a home, lots of tips on cats.

One Voice tribute album covera determinedly-independent folk singer-songwriter from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, who for more than thirty years has been winning loyal fans and critical acclaim for his beautifully crafted songs, with moving and often humorous insights into life, love, songwriting - and cats!  His songwriting was recently honoured with One Voice: A Tribute to Norm Hacking, Vol. 1, an album of North American songwriters performing his songs (Volume 2 is in progress). See Tribute Album. Norm's songs range from whimsical ("Cats Everywhere") to humorous looks at modern life ("Once Was Enough", "Video Love") to the emotional ups and downs of relationships to soul searching and social commentary ("Last Dance with the Bully God"). Others are tributes (eg to Steve Goodman, "Richer for the Time") or stories that have the character development of a biography ("Cara"). Norm's 1996 "best-of" CD Skysongs... A Writer's Collection was remastered and reissued in late 2001.

Orange Cats CD coverThe newest CD Orange Cats Make the Very Best Friends, by Norm Hacking and fabulous multi-instrumentalist Kirk Elliott was released in December 2002 and is making many new friends. It's was nominated for a Canadian Indie Music Award (see top of this page)! Featuring 5 songs about cats (4 by Norm and 1 by Kirk), it was on Festival Distribution's top 10 selling artist list for February, March and April 2003 - and it's back in the "Top Titles" section in late 2003 / early 2004 (click on tab). The track "Cats Everywhere" made CBC radio DiscDrive host Jurgen Gothe's hit list for 2002 and community radio hosts are enthusiastically playing the CD. We love the emails we're getting from new fans - often telling tales of feline best friends! Lyrics for 8 of the 11 songs are online!! More detailed info on Norm's three CDs (and previous recordings) is here with buying info here - or call Festival toll-free (from Canada and the U.S.) at 1-800-633-8282.

This page of Norm's website gives an overview of info you can see in more detail by following the embedded links or those on the left - Norm's recordings, the tribute album, some lyrics, a poem, prose, reviews, past open stages, upcoming and past performances. Contact us or subscribe to Norm's email newsletter at

URGENT:  Cats and kittens need adopting. If you're in the Toronto area and can adopt (or provide a temporary foster home to) a kitten or cat rescued from Toronto streets by the fine non-profit Annex Cat Rescue, call 416 410-3835 or see their website for profiles of rescued felines seeking permanent homes and great info on cats. Or consider a donation (tax receiptable). Yes, this is the wonderful organization that gets a donation for every Orange Cats CD sold.

ORANGE CATS CD LYRICS are on-line!! see list here

  Life with a naughty kitty / Isn't very pretty.
  So I sing this mournful song / About when cats go wrong.
  ( for the full lyrics of "When Cats Go Wrong" click here )


"We speak the language of poetry, when we try to talk to God. Music is God's reply. The courage of song results from just such intimate conversations"

- Norm Hacking
on songwriting


Orange Cats CD coverOrange Cats Make the Very Best Friends, by Norm Hacking and fabulous multi-instrumentalist Kirk Elliott, was launched at the Tranzac, Main Hall (292 Brunswick Ave., Toronto) on December 3, 2002. Special CD launch guest Marie-Lynn Hammond began her musical career with legendary folk group Stringband and issued her 5th solo album in February 2003. She is a long-time volunteer with the non-profit Annex Cat Rescue (Toronto), which receives a donation from all sales of Orange Cats. Holmes Hooke and Michael Laderoute added to the special occasion.

This is "an album for kids and cat-lovers of all ages" and anyone who loves good songwriting with generous helpings of humour. Yes, that's really the famous Syd on the cover! "Syd and The Flea" is the lead track, making Norm's popular first song about his cats widely available at last. CBC and other airplay "caught the public imagination" and led to wonderful emails to Norm and a second litter of CDs early in 2003. Details of the CD and list of the 11 songs (5 about cats) are on Norm's discography page. Lyrics for Norm's 8 songs are here. Kirk Elliott is also known as part of children's entertainment duo Kirk and Magoo - congratulations on their 2003 Canadian Independent Music Awards tie for Children's Album of the Year to their Mars Rocks! CD. For Gary 17's beautiful cover story on Norm and his three CDs, including this new one, see the Nov. 28, 2003 issue of TO-NITE, distributed in many Toronto-area clubs and also on line at

One Voice tribute album coverA gala launch on Wednesday November 14, 2001 marked the release of One Voice, A Tribute to Norm Hacking, Volume 1, a fabulous recording reflecting the high regard Norm's peers have for him. Selected tracks from a recorded tribute concert at the Tranzac in June 1999 and studio tracks produced by Wayne Marshall of Three Flamingos Music, Brantford, Ontario, and others are included. Most of the contributors performed at the launch at Hugh's Room in Toronto. Launch details are here . A few of the artists performing 18 of Norm's songs on the CD are Nancy White, Ron Nigrini, Chris Whiteley (Toronto blues, swing jazz), Michael Smith (Chicago), Alan Rhody (Nashville), Brenda Lewis (Guelph) and Rick Fielding, whose last CD includes Norm's "This One's the Dreamer" as the title track. See tribute album for album details and links to performers' websites. Volume 2 is in progress.

Skysongs CD coverNorm had previously released one CD, Skysongs... A Writer's Collection (1996), a "best of" his vinyl LPs, 1984 Cut Roses and acclaimed 1988 Stubborn Ghost, with 4 new (in 1996) tracks. This recording was also reissued at the tribute album launch on November 14, 2001, remastered with lyrics and full credits. See Skysongs.

All three albums are on the Three Flamingos Music label and are NOW AVAILABLE with distribution through Festival at their toll-free number (from Canada and U.S.) 1 800 633-8282 or in stores - or at Norm's gigs. For details of several methods of buying them, see Buy CDs / Contact which includes some stores and a new address for Three Flamingos Music label and recording services.

The Ache had limited pre-release in 1999, and will be issued in 2004. Watch for Volume 2 of the tribute album.

For details on Norm's CDs, his earlier albums (vinyl) and a number of other artists whose CDs include Norm's songs, click here.


Orange Cats Make the Very Best Friends  The songs are catchy, cute, sometimes thoughtful... This is homey, friendly music, just right for Norm's warm cozy voice.

David Kidney's review at GreenmanReview

One Voice: A Tribute to Norm Hacking, Vol. 1   rich and varied collection... played and sung by a who's who of Canadian folk musicians... celebration of a master songwriter... well written, melodic works. They deal with universal themes of love, and loss, and stories of people trapped by both... solid folk music... good pickin' and singin'

David Kidney,

Listen to the 19 songs comprising Skysongs and you will hear first-hand Hacking's warm voice, as eloquent lyrics take flight on the wings of ear-pleasing melodies...    The 18-track tribute ... demonstrates how good songs lend themselves to a variety of interpretative approaches.

Robert Reid, The Record (Kitchener-Waterloo), April 6, 2002, pE7

Norm Hacking is back with 19 of his country/folk tunes that shine with refreshing honesty, thoughtful lyrics and sparkling arrangements... Excellent songwriting and expressive performances make Skysongs a winner.

James Morgan, Dirty Linen (Dec 97 / Jan 98, p91-92)

Skysongs can be highly recommended. Hacking has an engaging voice and his lyrics flow effortlessly. Young songwriters should purchase this album as an outstanding example of songwriting craftsmanship.

Gene Wilburn, Northern Journey 2 (1998)

The best song ever committed to vinyl ("Stubborn Ghost")

Greg Quill, The Toronto Star (1988)

For reviews spanning 26 years of recording, see REVIEWS.


Also a talented prose writer, Norm has a popular monthly column in Taxi News. See Article on Lloyd for the tribute column he wrote just after the August 2000 death of his close friend Lloyd Landa, a very talented songwriter and musician.

The Toronto Star published a major feature article he wrote, "Looking for Christmas: A Songwriter's Journey" (Sunday, December 19, 1999), weaving prose snapshots of Christmas experiences with quotes from seven of his songs. Read it here

A poem by Norm Hacking, "I Have Imagined You", is the first to be posted on this website.

I have imagined you
Soft and mysterious as a cat's purr
For the full poem, go here


Norm is also a warm and caring person, well known for the support and encouragement he gives fellow artists, including those just getting started. He started his first open stage at Toronto's Silver Dollar Room more than a dozen years ago and returned there for "Norm's Living Room" open stage series July 24, 2001, through March 28, 2002. See Norm at Dollar for a look at our evenings and terrific features.

Before returning to the Silver Dollar, Norm had a popular high-quality open stage on Tuesdays October 26, 1999 through June 26, 2001, and performances by invitation at "Norm's Living Room" on Saturdays January 29, 2000 through June 2, 2001 at the Tranzac, 292 Brunswick Avenue, Toronto. Both series attracted talented perfomers and developed a real sense of community which was transported along with the virtual furniture to his larger "Living Room" Thursdays at the Silver Dollar. See Norm at the Tranzac page for a look at the earlier series, including feature artists February through June 2001. Hint: some features at both Silver Dollar and Tranzac were regulars at Norm's evenings, so look for them at Norm's special-occasion open stages. Subscribe to Norm's email newsletter to be sure you keep up on Norm's news (see next paragraph).


Find out how to get Norm's CDs by looking here. Secure web sales and toll-free phone orders are through Festival Distribution. OR to join Norm's email list, ask a question, get updates on gigs or notices of the upcoming CD releases (The Ache),

send an email to

Norm Hacking webpage contact: re content

Web Design, Content and Photography: Shirley Gibson
Layout: Glen Hornblast

Website first established February 2001
Last update June 30, 2004

Visitors since October 18, 2001