“Thank You for the Songs”: Bryan Adams, Geddy Lee, Justin Trudeau and More Lead Canada’s Farewell Tributes to Gordon Lightfoot
Legendary Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot — seen here in a 1975 photo taken in Toronto — died at the age of 84 on Monday, leading to an outpouring of tributes from fellow Canadians. Photo: Jeff Goode/Toronto Star via Getty Images
A number of iconic Canadians are paying tribute to one of their own, Gordon Lightfoot, in the wake of his passing.
The legendary singer-songwriter who earned a reputation as Canada’s poet laureate with hits like “If You Could Read My Mind,” “Sundown” and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” died of natural causes at the age of 84 on Monday.
Fellow Canadian music legend Bryan Adams, who photographed Lightfoot twice for the cover of Zoomer magazine — in 2011 and 2020 — penned a touching tribute to the troubadour on Instagram, accompanied by a snap they had taken together behind the scenes at Zoomer‘s 2020 cover shoot.
“This one is really hard to write. Once in a blue moon you get to work and hang out with one of the people you admired when you were growing up,” Adams wrote in the caption. “I was lucky enough to say Gordon was my friend and I’m gutted to know he’s gone. The world is a lesser place without him. I know I speak for all Canadians when I say: thank you for the songs Gordon Lightfoot. Bless your sweet songwriting heart, RIP dear friend.”
Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau remembered Lightfoot as one of the country’s greatest songwriters.
“We have lost one of our greatest singer-songwriters,” he said in a tweet on Monday. “Gordon Lightfoot captured our country’s spirit in his music — and in doing so, he helped shape Canada’s soundscape. May his music continue to inspire future generations, and may his legacy live on forever. To his family, friends, and many fans across the country and around the world: I’m keeping you in my thoughts at this difficult time.”
Rush’s Geddy Lee took to Instagram to reminisce about the mutual admiration he and Lightfoot had for one another, while also revealing the troubadour’s competitive streak.
“The first time we met was outside a local award show at a club in Toronto – a legendary poet, a songwriting inspiration — a gem of a man — I loved him. He used to bring his daughter who was a fan, to our shows, and he’d sit with her in the audience getting blasted with volume for three hours — a few months back he phoned me out of the blue, for no other reason than to say he’d just watched one of our concert films and really loved it,” Lee wrote in an Instagram post alongside a black and white photo of the pair. “Every time I ran into him the first thing he would ask was how many gigs we’d done that year — he’d then proudly counter with the fact that he had played even more! RIP Gord — you are the man — the greatest Canadian.”
Meanwhile, Alan Frew, the lead singer of Glass Tiger, shared lyrics from Lightfoot’s “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” and included elements of the song in his tribute.
“Goodbye kind sir. One of the greatest honours of my life was to have shared some time on this earth with you,” he said in the Instagram caption along with a photo of Lightfoot onstage. “When I landed in this fair land as a young lad, I was filled with all things Beatles, Stones, The Who …..until your voice found my soul, and I became a fan for life. You will live on forever.”
And actor Kiefer Sutherland shared a photo of himself with Lightfoot with the caption, “The world lost one of its great storytellers yesterday. Canada lost part of itself. And I lost a hero. Gordon Lightfoot, may you rest in peace.”
On Twitter, musician, author and actress Jann Arden said Lightfoot “truly walked among the greatest. His Songs woven into the fabric of our every day lives. We all know the words, even if we don’t think we do. What a legacy you leave behind. Steady on…”
Fellow singer-songwriter Tom Cochrane also honoured the late Canadian musician with a succinct message of appreciation.
“Farewell Gordon, thanks for the inspiration and thanks for helping to define us,” he tweeted, adding a maple leaf emoji.
Cochrane, who also spoke with The Canadian Press after Lightfoot’s passing, said that Lightfoot once opened up to him about his strong ties to his homeland.
“He said to me, ‘You know, trees grow in certain soils, and this soil has been a very powerful soil for me to grow,”‘ he recalled of the conversation. “Why would I leave this country? This is where I bear fruit.”
Despite that affection for Canada, he enjoyed plenty of success in the U.S., where his 1974 album Sundown topped the U.S. pop charts.
Discussing Lightfoot’s trailblazing success south of the border, former Barenaked Ladies member Steven Page called him “the archetype of the Canadian singer-songwriter,” and credited him with achieving a level of success that would be “broken, smashed and resculpted” by future generations of Canadian artists.
“Even though he did spend time in the United States and made records there, he was still deeply connected to the country, the landscape and the personality of Canada,” Page told The Canadian Press.
Lightfoot accumulated a number of accolades over five decades in the music business, including inductions into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, as well as the American Songwriters Hall of Fame.