Leav­ing their mark

Young, Cock­burn touch on pol­i­tics as they join Canadian Song­writ­ers Hall of Fame

Truro Daily News - - CANADA - By DaviD FriEnD

Leg­endary artists Neil Young and Bruce Cock­burn were ush­ered into the Canadian Song­writ­ers Hall of Fame on Satur­day with a cel­e­bra­tion that car­ried a few po­lit­i­cal un­der­tones.

While the con­cert and in­duc­tion cer­e­mony at Toronto’s Massey Hall gen­er­ally steered away from overt so­cial state­ments, it seemed al­most im­pos­si­ble for two of protest mu­sic’s most in­flu­en­tial Canadian song­writ­ers to ig­nore the cur­rent state of global pol­i­tics.

“I’m ter­ri­bly proud to be Canadian,” Young told the crowd as he was in­ducted. “I know I’ve trav­elled a lot ... but I’ve al­ways been a Canadian ci­ti­zen.”

“I love the U.S.A., by the way,’’ he added be­fore lean­ing into Don­ald Trump’s “Make Amer­ica Great Again” cam­paign slo­gan.

“My mes­sage is: They’re al­ready great.”

That’s about as close as the 71-year-old singer got to his ac­tivist side.

A trib­ute per­for­mance of his song “Ohio” by rock band White­horse inched a lit­tle closer. Orig­i­nally writ­ten about the 1970 Kent State shoot­ings, White­horse played their cover in front of a pro­jec­tion screen with the names of young men killed by po­lice, in­clud­ing Fred­die Gray, Eric Garner, Wal­ter Scott and Canadian Greg Mat­ters.

“We’d like to say so much has changed, but we’re not sure if it has,” gui­tarist Luke Doucet said as he in­tro­duced the song.

A per­for­mance of Cock­burn’s “If I Had a Rocket Launcher” by Blackie and the Rodeo Kings added an­other notch to the po­lit­i­cal tone of the event. Neil Young speaks dur­ing a news con­fer­ence in Van­cou­ver, B.C. Leg­endary artists Young and Bruce Cock­burn were ush­ered into the Canadian Song­writ­ers Hall of Fame on Satur­day with a cel­e­bra­tion that car­ried a few po­lit­i­cal un­der­tones.

It was fol­lowed by Buffy Sain­teMarie who of­fered her per­spec­tive on the song­writer’s ca­reer as she in­tro­duced him onto the stage.

“Bruce is an agi­ta­tor, an ac­tivist, a pro­tester,” she said.

He writes “words that move the nee­dle of public opin­ion” and that “shine the light on in­jus­tices,” Sainte-Marie added.

But Cock­burn left au­di­ences to read be­tween the lines as he thanked his long­time man­ager Bernie Finkel­stein.

“In a world in­creas­ingly de­fined its by fak­ery, we to­gether have pulled off the great­est trick ever — we spread truth,” the 72-year-old said to Finkel­stein.

The re­marks were some of

the most poignant mo­ments in a cer­e­mony that was oth­er­wise spent cel­e­brat­ing the good times.

It marks the first hall of fame in­duc­tion in five years, af­ter the or­ga­ni­za­tion was ac­quired by the So­ci­ety of Com­posers, Au­thors and Mu­sic Pub­lish­ers of Canada (SOCAN), which be­gan re­build­ing its op­er­a­tions. Pre­vi­ous song­writ­ers who re­ceived the honour in­clude Leonard Co­hen, Rob­bie Robert­son, Joni Mitchell and Gilles Vigneault.

Among the other high­lights of the night was singer k.d. lang who brought down the house with a heart-wrench­ing take on Young’s “Help­less,” which earned her a stand­ing ova­tion.

Rock star Randy Bach­man pulled up a stool to de­liver an ex­tended sto­ry­telling ses­sion on his mem­o­ries of fel­low Win­nipeg­ger Young, in­clud­ing when he learned the “Har­vest Moon” singer’s mother was call­ing a lo­cal ra­dio sta­tion to boast about his live shows.

Bach­man said the en­thu­si­asm of Young’s mother en­cour­aged him to urge his own mom to show more sup­port over the air­waves.

Que­be­cois in­ductees for the evening were Beau Dom­mage, a group formed in the early 1970s that be­came known for writ­ing pop­u­lar French folk staples, such as “La Com­plainte du Phoque en Alaska.”


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