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Neil Young Honors Gordon Lightfoot: ‘His Melodies and Words Were an Inspiration’

Young also called the late musician a “great Canadian artist” and a “songwriter without parallel”

Neil Young paid tribute to fellow “Canadian legend” Gordon Lightfoot after the storied singer-songwriter died earlier this week at the age of 84.

In a statement shared on his website, Young called Lightfoot a “great Canadian artist” and “a songwriter without parallel.” He continued, “His melodies and words were an inspiration to all writers who listened to his music, as they will continue to be through the ages. There is a unique and wonderful feeling to Gordon’s music.” 

Young added that he spoke with Lightfoot “a few weeks back,” saying the musician “sounded happy, although he had cancelled some shows ad was re-organizing his touring. I was saddened when I learned today of his passing.” 

Young previously showed his reverence for Lightfoot and his songwriting when he included two Lightfoot tunes on his 2014 covers album, A Letter Home: “Early Morning Rain” and “If You Could Read My Mind.”


Along with Young, Lightfoot’s songs have been covered by an array of top artists, including Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Liza Minnelli, Johnny Cash, and Harry Belafonte. In a 2019 interview with Rolling Stone, he spoke about the enduring appeal of his music.

“I suppose it’s the turn of the phrase. Or the fact that they’re so simple. People can play these songs if they can get around this business here,” he said. “We’ve got songs that register well with the crowd, like ‘Read My Mind’ and ‘Beautiful’ and ‘Don Quixote.’ They’re all tunes that just move along and have a forward momentum, which is what I look for in my writing. Forward momentum.”

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