Who would have thought that a private school- educated, Victorian doctor's son would bring thousands of Tasmanian schoolchildren to line the streets to wave him on his final journey like royalty? Who would have thought that a hard-nosed former union chief could bring more than 100 government bureaucrats and staff out to crowd the steps of Parliament House to bow their heads and weep quietly as his funeral cortege passed by?
But who would have thought when Jim Bacon arrived in Tasmania with his young family, in 1980, as the new State Builders Labourers Federation secretary that he would become one of our most popular premiers, prompt one of the biggest funerals we've seen in one of our only State funerals outside a cathedral or church?
Those close to Jim Bacon would have known and not been surprised by the outpouring of love and respect yesterday from more than 2500 Tasmanians crowded into Hobart's Federation Concert Hall, spilling over into the Hotel Grand Chancellor next door and the hundreds more lining the streets outside.
His family had watched the transformation of Mr Bacon from Maoist student activist to passionate man of the people.
But even they would have been moved by the nearly two-hour service - Jim's last show - a carefully orchestrated performance worked out by the former Premier and his wife, Honey, before his death from cancer last week.
It used music to tell his story, to leave us his message.
And meant that he enjoyed one, final, giant party.
"Jim carefully selected these pieces of music in late February," Mrs Bacon told her huge concert hall audience as her husband lay by her on stage in a coffin of manchurian oak draped with white flowers.
"He loved music, music spoke to him, inspired him and moved him. It touched Jim's heart and soul," said Mrs Bacon.
"Part of his dream was that he wanted Pink Floyd to open this wonderful concert hall. He always was such a big thinker. He thought it would give national and international exposure to Tasmania."
So the huge array of mourners - Federal Labor icon Gough Whitlam, Prime Minister John Howard, all the state premiers, Tasmanian parliamentarians shoulder-to-shoulder with Labor stalwarts in open-necked shirts, corduroy trousers and runners - were soothed into the show by guitarist Cary Lewincamp.
He performed A Place In Our Hearts, a piece he had specially written for his former Premier inspired by the tranquility of Boat Harbour, on Tasmania's far North-West Coast - a favourite place for the Bacons.
Ten Days On The Island artistic director and international performer Robyn Archer belted out an emotional rendition of Non Je Ne Regrette Rien, made famous by Edith Piaf and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra moved many of the audience to tears playing Shostakovich's The Gadfly: Romance.
MC Tim Cox told how Mr Bacon had asked Ms Archer at one of her last meetings with him and Honey if she would sing the Piaf song.
"Jim evidently looked up at Robyn and winked and said, `if I go before you, will you sing this song for me?" Mr Cox said.
And 1970s US folk-protest singer Bob Dylan's Only A Pawn In The Game set the scene for Mr Bacon's sister Wendy to tell his adopted Tasmanians about his Victorian childhood, his growing awareness of a huge sector of the community not as fortunate as himself and his determination to help them.
"My strongest memory of Jim as a small child was that he was prone to fits of infectious giggling at the dinner table," she said.
"Nobody was quite sure what he was laughing about but we all ended up laughing too. He had a wonderful sense of humour which remained with him until the end of his life."
But Ms Bacon also remembered clearly her younger brother's political initiation.
"After he was expelled from Monash (University), he did what most middle-class radicals of his generation never considered doing - he became a builder's laborer," she said.
"This was when he really began to find out about the lives of ordinary people and he used to tell me that he got particularly upset when he had to visit young families of men killed in work accidents."
His non-conformist religious beliefs were also formed in his earliest years.
"Jim remembered a few years ago family dinners where my parents would invite close friends and we would have discussions," Ms Bacon said.
"One popular topic of discussion was `did God exist?'
"Given the venue that Jim has chosen for his funeral, you would not be surprised to know that the consensus in our family was that he did not.
"Our answer was not a materialistic one but rather that the meaning of life was to be found in the deeds you do, especially in the service of your fellow human being."
The service, followed closely by those inside the concert hall as well as people watching on television screens in the Grand Chancellor foyer, on a giant, outdoor screen across the road at the lower end of Hunter St and on TV screens in homes and office around the State, brought together Mr Bacon's diverse passions.
Michael Mansell and Lutana Spotswood performed the welcome to country ceremony at the start, using for the first time, in Tasmania, Aboriginal language at a funeral service for a non- Aboriginal person.
"It's a mark of the standing Jim had with Aboriginal people," Mr Mansell said.
"He had a passion for reconciliation but it was reconciliation not imposed on us - a point that the Prime Minister (John Howard) might consider."
Mr Mansell told a media officer later that Mr Bacon would have been disappointed with him if he hadn't taken the opportunity to take a jibe at the Prime Minister.
Premier Paul Lennon's eulogy was a moving tribute to an inspirational former Premier who had given his State a sense of hope and optimism and to Mr Lennon's best mate.
He brought the house down when he called for three cheers from the audience for the life of a great Tasmanian.
But in the end, despite the words, the distinguished guests, the mates, the hundreds of grieving bystanders, the day belonged to two people and their music - Jim Bacon and Honey, the love of his life.
They chose Tom Waits's Tom Traubert's Blues to play as Mr Bacon was carried from the stage and Mrs Bacon stayed, quietly listening, cherishing the last moment as the audience filed from the hall into a rain-soaked day without a favourite Premier.
Who would have thought?
Former Prime Minister and Federal Labor icon Gough Whitlam leaned heavily on a stick as he moved slowly from the State funeral to a waiting car but his sense of drama had not diminished with his increasing frailty. When asked by a reporter what he thought of Jim Bacon, he boomed in reply: "No, no, no - do you know why?" he continued a few seconds later. "I'm opening Australian Story (on Jim Bacon) on Sunday night and you will steal my thunder."
Prime Minister John Howard acknowledged the differences between former Premier Jim Bacon and himself as he left the service. "Jim's belief and mine differed on some issues, I respected the job that he did and we tried to work effectively for the benefit of Australians who live in Tasmania."