Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Honors Gordon Lightfoot, Whose Songs ‘Captured the Canadian Spirit’

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement honoring legendary singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot, who died Monday at the age of 84. In it, he recalls meeting Lightfoot as a child, when Trudeau’s father Pierre was prime minister in the 1970s and ’80s.

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“I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing yesterday of Gordon Lightfoot, one of Canada’s greatest singer-songwriters.

“Mr. Lightfoot gave us so many special moments over the years. With a career that spanned over half a century, Mr. Lightfoot’s music told stories that captured the Canadian spirit, none more so than his iconic Canadian Railroad Trilogy, which will forever be a part of our country’s musical heritage.

“I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Lightfoot as a child – he spent the afternoon in the Gatineau Hills with my family, and it is a memory I will always cherish.

“Mr. Lightfoot received many Juno Awards and Grammy nominations, and was honoured as a member of Canada’s Walk of Fame, the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He received the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award in 1997, and was appointed Companion of the Order of Canada in 2003.

“On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I express our deepest sympathies to Gordon’s family, friends, and his many, many fans. His legacy will live on in the dynamic Canadian soundscape he helped to shape.”

While a legend in his home country, Lightfoot’s biggest U.S. successes came in the 1970s. He topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 1974 with “Sundown” and also had top 5 songs with “If You Could Read My Mind” and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” All three songs reached No. 1 on the adult contemporary chart, as did “Carefree Highway” and “Rainy Day People,” during his mid-’70s chart heyday.

With a career that spanned seven decades, Lightfoot rose to prominence in the mid-‘60s, penning such folk standards as “Early Morning Rain” (a major hit for the Canadian folk duo Ian and Sylvia Tyson), “For Loving Me” and “Ribbon of Darkness,” as well as the ambitious “Canadian Railroad Trilogy,” a sort of Northern equivalent to Mickey Newbury’s “American Trilogy.”

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