Photo - Norm Hacking

Welcome to Norm Hacking's
home on the web!

Updated April 28, 2009




past gig links

When Cats Go Wrong













With great regret and sadness, we announce that
Norm Hacking died on Sunday Nov. 25, 2007
. . .
May 7 - 9, 2009 - The Renaissance Cafe is closing.
Norm's east-end Toronto musical home
Farewell events include a tribute to Norm - more info on upcoming page
. . .
Watch for a 2009 concert memorial event / "The Ache" CD release.
Enjoy the selection of Norm's lyrics and prose on this website
watch for more to be added
. . .
Norm's CDs NOW available from Outside Music's web store
. . .

Norm Hacking photo Nov. 11, 2006

August 1, 1950 - November 25, 2007

“And the world gets a lift when you practice your gifts:
Each heart knows the courage of song.
And we'll not replace the love and the grace
That lives in a songwriter's song—
It gives you strength to just keep keeping on.
- Norm Hacking
"A Songwriter's Song
(link for full lyrics)

"You shine for me and I will shine for you" - "Shine"
(Norm's full lyrics added to this site March 2008)

“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

Among the tributes to Norm:
Greg Quill's Toronto Star article Nov. 29, 2007
Norman Nelson in The Scarborough Mirror Nov. 29, 2007
Matt MacLeod's "A Songwriter's Songwriter" for Norm (listen on his site)
on this website:
Linda Stitt's poems "For Norm" and "Legacy"
articles first published in TaxiNews:
Heino Molls "Remembering Racetrack Hack" (Dec 2007)
Shirley Gibson "Norm will be one Stubborn Ghost" (Jan 2008)
Mike Beggs "The big man's music was the real deal" (Jan 2008)
Peter McSherry "Norm Hacking was one of a kind" (Jan 2008)
(watch for more links)

Memorial event / open stage was held Thursday Dec. 6, 2007
at the Renaissance Cafe in Toronto

"Songs and Stories of Norm Hacking" was hosted by Tim Harrison
February 9, 2008, as part of Winterfolk VI

Radio tributes - all webcast - Dec. 2, 7, 9, 20 + Mondays
(Dec. 20 CIUT show archived at )
(Dec. Mondays 6-8 pm programs archived at )

. . .
Added July 2008: "One Last House Call"
Norm's memorial to the late Hunter S. Thompson (Jan. 2006)
. . .
NEW COLUMN (Feb 2008) - Norm's last
Race Track Hack column for TaxiNews is now on this site:
"A writer recycled"
(Valentine theme, including pun-filled song lyric)

. . . . . .

Other Recent News Summary below...
Norm hosted a memorial and birthday celebration of the amazing Kathy O. Hacking
(Norm's mom, July 11, 1922 - October 4, 2006) on her 85th birthday July 11, 2007 / read Norm's on-line account and tributes to his mom / Norm's song "Richer for the Time" is included on the CD in Clay Eals' Steve Goodman biography - getting attention and airplay, including in a satellite radio feature.

. . . . . .

For more than 30 years, Toronto (Canada) singer-songwriter 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 now cats!

Orange Cats CD cover, click for detailsWhen Cats Go Wrong BOOK cover, click for detailsHis latest music 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. "When Cats Go Wrong" from the CD is the text of a BOOK - including a CD single of the song - that is brilliantly illustrated by Cynthia Nugent. Published by Raincoast Books and widely available from Canadian booksellers since October 2004, the book was released in the U.S. in April 2005, but is selling out. The paperback edition (ISBN 1-55192-917-1 or 13 digit format ISBN 978 1-55192-917-0) - full size with CD single - is NOW available in both Canadian and U.S. stores. The book was nominated for two awards: short-listed for a 2005-2006 Chocolate Lily Book Award (chosen by kindergarten through grade 3 British Columbia students) and it was an Alcuin Society Book Design Award Winner (4th in Children's category in Canada for 2004; Elisa Gutiérrez designed the book).

Skysongs CD cover, click for detailsOne Voice tribute album cover, click for detailsCanadian and U.S. songwriters recorded 18 of Norm's songs for One Voice: A Tribute to Norm Hacking, Vol. 1 (released with a gala concert in late 2001). A second volume is in progress.

Norm's own "best-of" CD Skysongs... A Writer's Collection (1996) was remastered and reissued with lyrics in late 2001. Watch for The Ache CD soon.

I Am the Night CD cover, click for detailsNorm released a new CD "I Am the Night" with 33 original spoken word selections (poems and prose) on Monday December 19, 2005!! Fans who attend his concert performances already know the beauty - and humour - of his spoken word pieces. The CD is available on-line or by mail order form from Iridescent Music, where it was recorded with the generous help and studio time donated by Executive Producer Phil Ball and the talent of Recording Engineer Charlie Agnello. See the detailed I Am the Night CD description.

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."
-- Richard Christy, Whig-Standard, Kingston, Ontario

NEW:  Norm's music CDs are available from Outside Music's secure web store at - they also supply major stores in Canada. More details and options are on Norm's Buy CDs and Contact page.

Two letters from grade 2 students - click for larger versionThe BOOK When Cats Go Wrong is receiving a terrific reception. Two of many letters from grade 2 fans are shown at left (click image for larger version) and more are quoted on the reviews page, along with two letters from their teacher. Norm answered each letter individually, and we've posted his additional letter to the whole class responding to the most common questions about cats, himself and writing. As usual, his ideas have universal interest.

Cats students created for Norm in response to his book, click for larger image How much fun and learning can one book - When Cats Go Wrong - inspire for one class and one choir and their audience? Click on the photo for a larger image of a few of the Monet-style cats "gone wrong" that some talented first grade students created for Norm. The letter from their teacher is on Norm's reviews page.


Adult critics are also enthusiastic. The book was featured on p.16 in the October 2004 Quill & Quire, p.26 in the October 9 Book Section of The Globe and Mail (Globe link now requires registration or subscription), Vancouver Sun (Nov. 20, 2004, p.F16), The Toronto Star April 24, 2005, p.D8 (Deirdre Baker's Small Print column in the book section), Canada's news magazine Maclean's, Nov. 29, 2004 (p.68) and national CBC radio program "The Roundup".

OTHER RECENT NEWS - events, book news, more...

Photo of Kathy O. Hacking"A Small Celebration" is Norm's account of the July 11, 2007 memorial gathering on the 85th anniversary of Kathy O.'s birth, and some photos.
Thank you to everyone who sent their prayers and best wishes to my mother, the amazing Kathy O.
Katherine O. Hacking
July 11, 1922 - October 4, 2006
She lit the shadows.

- Norm Hacking, October 2006

Norm's prose and lyrics added October 2006 - October 2007:
Olya Katarina - lyrics of his song for Kathy O., recorded earlier for The Ache CD
Kim and Ben - great advice to recently wed son Ben and daughter-in-law Kim
Vigil - keeping vigil with his mother Kathy O. in the hospital
A Song at Midnight - a beautiful gift from Kathy O., still in hospital
Never Goodbye - Norm shares memories of Kathy O. after her passing on October 4
A Small Celebration - a lovely memorial: a celebration of Kathy O. on her 85th birthday

Norm's beautiful mother Kathy O. "slipped away" peacefully in the early morning on Wednesday October 4, 2006, with Norm at her side. He had spent most of his time since July with her at Scarborough Grace Hospital (Toronto) - see his prose, linked above.

Steve Goodman book cover; included CD has a song by NormUPDATED!! - Steve Goodman: Facing the Music by Clay Eals
(book with CD; May 2007, 1st edition; March 2008: 2nd edition with more photos and minor updates released; May 2008 the book won a silver medal in the biography category of the 2008 Independent Book Publisher (IPPY) Awards)
Author Clay Eals of Seattle interviewed Norm and 1,066 others (and contacted more than 1,100 other people) to write a comprehensive 800-page biography of Steve Goodman. The book includes a CD of 18 songs written about Steve Goodman. The second track is Norm's "Richer for the Time" (from his Skysongs CD, originally on his Stubborn Ghost LP) - Norm was inspired by seeing Steve Goodman at The Riverboat (prominent 1964-1978 folk coffeehouse in Toronto's Yorkville area). With forward by Arlo Guthrie and preface by Studs Terkel, this 8"x10" format book includes hundreds of photos - 16 pages are in colour. The cover photo (above) is by Gina Jett. Published by ECW Press (Toronto) for $29.95 U.S. / $32.95 Cdn (ISBN 978-1-55022-732-1 or 1-55022-732-7). For details of the book, including the full first chapter, sample clips from each song on the CD, acknowledgements, author's bio, reading / music events, reviews, see The website also lists many concerts and author interviews, continuing in mid-2008. Prominent 2007 programs included Mike Regenstreif's "Folk Routes / Folk Branches" June 21 (90.3 FM Montreal, In October 2007 XM Satellite Radio Channel 15 (The Village, folk - U.S. and Canada by subscription) aired a 90 minute program of the tracks on the included CD, with the author's introductions to each. For more, see the book website).


Norm was one of the performers Friday June 22, 2007 for The Riverboat Revival, the gala opening concert at Hugh's Room for the Toronto City Roots festival (which continued Saturday and Sunday at the Distillery District). The concert honoured the 1960s prominent folk coffeehouse - for details see Past Events 2007.

Brampton Folk Festival logo What a wonderful day and evening!!! Congrats to all involved in organizing the festival.... Norm Hacking played the Brampton Folk Festival on Satuday June 16, 2007. His performances included a set of cat songs and stories at 1 pm on the family stage, hosting "A Songwriter's Travelogue" workshop at 3 pm and main stage concert at 6:15 pm. It's a rain or shine free festival in lovely Gage Park in downtown Brampton. The main-stage line-up and more details are now on Norm's Past Events 2007 page (along with a photo of the lovely main-stage area) and at - Yes, there are GO-buses from Toronto to Brampton and free parking for those with cars!

Winterfolk V logo - click for festival detailsFEBRUARY 9 - 11, 2007 - Winterfolk V festival on 7 stages in 5 venues on Danforth at Broadview in Toronto was a great success. It had a great line-up again in 2007, including Norm - it's first year as a free festival! See for festival info - info on Norm's performances has been moved to Past Events 2007.

(released November 2006)
cover - Songs for a Better Planet Vol. IINorm's "Shine" [3:25] from his Skysongs CD is the lead track on this anthology of original songs with themes for an improved earth, produced by the Association of Artists for a Better World. More information, including descriptions of the 14 tracks on this 56 minute CD, is at Artists are from Canada, U.S.A., Australia and Holland. CDs are available on-line for US$ 12.97 plus tax and shipping from CD Baby at with proceeds going directly to United Nations Foundation. Produced by Brian Gladstone.

DECEMBER 17, 2006 (Sunday) at 8 pm - Norm returned to KINGSTON, Ontario, after a long absence for Sweet Folk All's Winter Solstice FREE special show! It started with an open stage, and featured a full set from Norm. UPDATE: a wonderful evening, Norm enjoyed the fine local performers and was happy to meet old friends and make new ones. Details, including the regular open stage there, have been moved to past events in 2006.

NORM'S SONG "SHINE" used in a tribute to Agent Orange victims in New Brunswick. Yes, that's exposure in Canada! To watch Art Connolly's video, which opens with a few facts then goes to Norm's song behind a loving collage of images dedicated to those individuals and families affected by spraying of Agent Orange and other chemicals at CFB Gagetown 1956 - 1984, go to . To explore the issue behind the video, see .

MAY 10, 2006 was the U.S. release date of the new paperback edition of Norm's When Cats Go Wrong book, so it is NOW available from both U.S. and Canadian booksellers. The hard cover edition is out of print. This papercover edition, also from Raincoast Books, retains the full-colour vibrancy of Cynthia Nugent's illustrations, the full page size and the CD single, making it a read-along and sing-along experience. It's a bargain at C$12.95 / US$9.95! Look in the children's book section - but we're all kids at heart when the fun is this clever! See our page about the book - where you can also listen to part of the song:
    Life with a naughty kitty / Isn't very pretty.
    So I sing this mournful song / About when cats go wrong.
    ( full lyrics of "When Cats Go Wrong" )

Sample some of Norm's other lyrics and writing on this website:
See the index of lyrics and prose on this site

Norm launched his NEW SPOKEN WORD CD I Am the Night on December 19, 2005 with a concert at the Renaissance Cafe. See our details of the new CD. It's available on-line or by mail order from Iridescent Music, Toronto.

Stuart McLean
playing "When Cats Go Wrong" on his national CBC Radio show Vinyl Cafe led directly to the song becoming a book. The story is now on our book page.
CBC Radio One Ontario-wide program Fresh Air
aired a feature on Norm and the book early on December 11, 2004 - the Toronto book launch day. In addition to interviewing Norm and playing the title song, host Jeff Goodes also read Norm's December 2003 Race Track Hack column "Maybe One More"
Jorgan Gothe's popular national CBC Radio Two show DiscDrive (ended in summer 2008) introduced Norm's and Kirk's cat songs to many new fans.

LISTEN to 6 of Norm's songs!! In September 2004, we moved the website, tidied it up and added sound from six of Norm's songs: two each from his three current music CDs, including Alan Rhody and Jason Fowler from the tribute album. The mp3 links are on the lyrics list. We've made separate pages for each of Norm's recordings, updated links and added more lyrics, a new "Race Track Hack" column about the book, a site map and a press kit. Please ensure links and bookmarks for this website are to

SEE MORE NEWS, still relevant, on the separate NEWS page!

Did you know that...

Norm Hacking is a determinedly-independent folk singer-songwriter from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, who loves sharing his songs. His performances are totally engaging: melodic songs sung in his expressive baritone, with tasteful acoustic guitar, interspersed with original poetry and prose recitations.

Norm's albums brim with original songs ranging 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"). See the discography for an overview of his vinyl (solo starting in 1977 - and one with friends in 1972!) and CDs.

Fine songwriters from Chicago (Michael Smith) to Nashville (Alan Rhody) to Whitehorse (Mikel Miller) and many from Ontario (Nancy White, Ron Nigrini, Chris Whiteley, Rick Fielding, Slowpoke, Brenda Lewis, many more) recorded Norm's songs for the tribute album and / or their own albums.

Five artists have written songs about Norm, including one days after his passing. Poet Linda Stitt shared two poems about Norm.

Many Torontonians know Norm as "Race Track Hack," author of the monthly thoughtful humor column by that name in Taxi News from February 1992 to late 2007. Selected columns on this site include tales of his cats and his family, tributes to late friends Lloyd Landa and Rick Fielding, imaginary "dates with the dead" heroes Bogie and Marilyn, and musings on a variety of topics - touching and funny, as are his songs. Columns may be reprinted occasionally on the Taxi News website.

Selected lyrics and prose and one poem "I Have Imaged You" are shared here. Lyrics include all Norm's songs from the "Orange Cats" CD, with selected others.

Kirk Elliott is a well known multi-instrumentalist and composer and as half of family entertainment duo Kirk and Magoo - their 2003 CD Mars Rocks! tied for Canadian Independent Music Awards Children's Album of the Year. Norm and Kirk's Orange Cats CD was nominated in the same category for 2004. Kirk's website features his multi-instrumental playing and recordings, mixing Celtic and other influences.

The non-profit Annex Cat Rescue (Toronto), receives a donation from all sales of the Orange Cats CD. Please consider a direct donation of money (Canadian tax receiptable), or even specified goods, Air Miles or Canadian Tire money!! Go directly to for tips on cat care and for profiles and photos of kitties up for adoption. Or leave a message at 416 410-3835.

Norm created a real musical community as a warmly encouraging host of several fine Toronto open stage series. Read details of featured performers at the last two series, "Norm's Living Room" at the Silver Dollar Room (2001-2002) - site of his first open stage! - and at the Tranzac (1999-2001). You may see many of them performing in Toronto and touring.

Norm's other artistic hats have included stage actor (musical, dramatic and comic), festival artistic director, poet, soundtrack song writer (for Back to School with Franklin video - yes, Franklin the Turtle!) - more in his bio.


When Cats Go Wrong (book):  This is no ordinary melancholy ode to cats, naughty or otherwise. This is a song, a tango composed and written by folk artist Norm Hacking and lavishly illustrated with thick daubs of paint in the manner of a Toulouse Lautrec. It all seems to prove that words, music and illustration played appassionato become hilarious when deployed in the service of a cat gone wrong.

Susan Perren, Globe and Mail, Oct. 9, 2004, p.D26

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.

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 28 years of recording, see Reviews.


Norm's three current music albums on the Three Flamingos Music label are now available by secure web sales through Outside Music Distribution (Toronto) at The CDs are also available in stores - or at events honouring Norm. Many thanks to Festival Distribution of Vancouver for years of friendly service. Norm's poetry and prose CD I Am the Night is available from For more details, see Buy CDs / Contact which includes some stores and a new address for Three Flamingos Music label and recording services.

Join Norm's email newsletter list, ask a question, get updates on upcoming events, The Ache CD release and other news,

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Norm Hacking webpage contact: re content

Web Design, Content and Photography: Shirley Gibson
Layout: Glen Hornblast
MP3 samples: Wayne Marshall, Three Flamingos Music

Website first established February 2001
Site reorganized September 25, 2004
Last update April 28, 2009

Oct. 18, 2001 - Sept. 25, 2004:   6,604
Since September 26, 2004:

Please link to this page as