Canadian labels unite to release a star-studded tribute to Canada’s  greatest songwriter, Gordon Lightfoot

The Tragically Hip, Blue Rodeo, Ron Sexsmith, Cowboy Junkies and Bruce Cockburn are among the artists who have recorded Lightfoot songs for  the first-ever salute to Canada’s premier songwriter.

Borealis Records, Canada’s pre-eminent folk/roots label and NorthernBlues, Canada's cutting-edge blues label have combined forces to release “Beautiful: A Tribute to Gordon Lightfoot.” The album was released in Canada, the United States, and a number of overseas markets, on October 7, 2003.

Some of North America’s best-known roots and blues artists produced and recorded their own interpretations of some of Lightfoot’s best-known songs.

The Cowboy Junkies open the album with “The Way I Feel” and are joined by a cast of performers that include The Tragically Hip, who recreate “Black Day in July,” Blue Rodeo, with one of Lightfoot’s earlier songs, “Go Go Round,” Murray McLauchlan, who essays a personal solo version of “Home From the Forest.” and Bruce Cockburn who delivers a soulful version of “Ribbon of Darkness” — the first Lightfoot “hit” recorded by Marty Robbins. 

Other Lightfoot hits are here too: “Sundown” (Jesse Winchester), “For Loving Me” (Terry Tufts), “If You Could Read My Mind” (Connie Kaldor) and the classic “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” from Canadian folk hero James Keelaghan. 

Ron Sexsmith — who once lined up to get Lightfoot’s autograph — performs “Drifters,” while other artists include Blackie & The Rodeo Kings (“Summer Side of Life”), guitarist Harry Manx (“Bend in the Water”), Quartette (Song for a Winter’s Night”), and Maria Muldaur (“That Same Old Obsession.”)

The principals of the two labels are delighted that the project — which has been in the making for almost two years — is finally about to be released. Said Grit Laskin of Borealis:  “Gordon Lightfoot is the most significant figure on Canada’s folk scene, and has been creating wonderful music for well over 30 years.  Canadians — and many others around the world — know so many of his songs.”  Fred Litwin, who heads Northern Blues, added: “This has been a labour of love for both labels, and the willingness of all the artists to get involved shows how grateful they are to Gordon Lightfoot for the music he created.”

The salute is being announced a week after it was announced that Lightfoot has been appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada. 

“Beautiful” has been executive-produced by Colin Linden, and will include a 20-page booklet.  A special series of events is being planned to coincide with the release of “Beautiful” in early October.  The album will be distributed in Canada by Festival Distribution and in the United States by Big Daddy Music Distribution, based in New Jersey.