On Saturday September 23. 2017 Bruce Cockburn along with Neil Young, the group Beau Dommage, and Stéphane Venne were inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Scroll to the end for Bruce’s acceptance speech in his own hand.
(The following is from Billboard article by Karen Bliss)
The impact of four life-changing Canadian songwriters — Neil Young, Bruce Cockburn, the group Beau Dommage, and Stéphane Venne — was the common thread at the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF) induction ceremony over the weekend at Toronto’s Massey Hall, where professional musicians of all ages — and one former astronaut — expressed their respect and gratitude for their music.
This was the first induction ceremony in six years. The CSHF was created by music publisher Frank Davies in 1998; the inaugural gala was held in 2003 with six more to follow. The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers (SOCAN) purchased it in December 2011 and has been working to update the brand and educate the public about its inductees and mandate.
The historic Massey Hall, which opened in 1894, was the perfect setting for such esteemed honorees. Both Young and Cockburn have recorded live albums there and the late Jonathan Demme’s final doc on the folk-rocker, 2011’s Neil Young Journeys, culminates in two performances at Massey. It’s a venue many Toronto artists dream of headlining — our Carnegie Hall.
The four-hour show, which ran an hour over schedule, was a bilingual affair, giving equal time to the two Quebecois legends, even if, truth be told, many of the Anglophones in the audience found their own grade-school French studies proved absolutely useless. Each artist was feted with covers of their songs and stories about their influence, plus the customary tribute video.
To view above speech in standard pdf viewer click here.
Here’s the text version:
Thank you, Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. Thank you SOCAN.
I spend so much time playing and singing my own songs — it’s very interesting, very moving, to hear them performed by others! And on an occasion like this — to be so honored in the company of these wonderful artists.
I’ve been at my craft for a long time — long enough that the beginning seems like yesterday.
Under the influence of those who were a bit quicker on the draw than me, Bob Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot, Buffy Sainte-Marie among others, I was seduced away from the pursuit of an education in jazz composition by songs…creations that combined music with something like poetry.
Though I didn’t understand it at the time, I came to realize that art, including the art of songwriting, is about sharing the human experience. Music is a spiritual bonding agent, a means of sharing deep feelings of all times. When you add words, the sharing becomes pointed — specific. A song can offer inspiration, distraction, solace, solidarity – a sense that we are not alone in our feelings. The human ability to create songs is precious and vital. We have always done it and I think we always will — the artifice of machines (and ISIS) not withstanding.
I’m immensely grateful to have been allowed to live a life centered around songwriting. And immensely grateful for the attention my efforts have received. To be able to do this and make a living at it is truly a great gift.
Re “Making a living at it,” I want to offer a word of thanks to Bernie Finkelstein, my friend and long-time manager, from whose asute ears and talent for strategizing I have benefited greatly. So too, all the excellent producers and musicians I have worked with, some of whom are here tonight, who have helped give my raw material the power to appeal to the world at large.
In a world increasingly defined by its fakery, we’ve together pulled off the greatest trick ever — we spread truth.
~from Bruce’s Facebook page, by Bernie Finkelstein:
Some sad news to report. Acclaimed bassist Rob Wasserman has passed away (June 29). Here’s what Jambase reported last night.
“Just hours after Bob Weir shared the news bassist Rob Wasserman was battling serious health issues, comes word Wasserman has died. RatDog guitarist Mark Karan first revealed Rob had passed on with Weir confirming the news shortly thereafter.
Rob Wasserman is best known for his long tenure alongside Weir as a founding member of RatDog as well as the pair’s Bob Weir & Rob Wasserman project. Wasserman was a member of RatDog from the group’s mid ’90s formation through 2002 and then again from 2010 to their most recent performances.”
Rob played on what many people consider to be one of Bruce’s finest albums “The Charity Of Night“, recorded in 1996. Before that Bruce and Rob had played together in the early 90’s at Sony studios in New York where they along with Lou Reed and Rosanne Cash performed together on one of Bruce’s “Christmas With Cockburn” radio shows.
1983 – The Order Of Canada
1989 – Honourary Doctorate/York University – Doctorate Of Letters
1993 – Performance at Presidential Inaugural Ball
1997 – Honorary Doctorate of Music Berklee College of Music Boston
1999 – Honorary Degree (Doctor Of Letters) St. Thomas University (New Brunswick)
2003 – Promotion to Officer of The Order of Canada
6 June 2014 – June 2nd, 2014 – Canada’s 27th Governor-General, Michaëlle Jean, and renowned singer-songwriter and activist Bruce Cockburn are among the recipients of Honourary Doctorates at Spring Convocation ceremonies at Laurentian University this year.
Bruce Cockburn, Doctorate of Letters: Winner of a Governor-General’s Performing Arts Award and 13 Juno Awards, Bruce Cockburn has released more than 30 albums over a career spanning four decades. Mr. Cockburn is also renowned as a humanitarian and activist. In 2002, Mr. Cockburn was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame for his powerful lyrics and his immense contribution to Canadian music. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Bruce Cockburn is a rock musician, singer/songwriter, political activist and Canadian icon. From his beginnings in the late 60s with the rock group, The Children, through his solo career and musical collaborations over three decades, Bruce Cockburn has followed his own path creating music that has defied traditional labels.
His life informs his music. He has consistently expressed and maintained political views that haven’t endeared him to a mainstream audience. But his willingness to speak out on issues that many performers wont go near has earned him a strong following.
Of the all inclusive nature of his work, Bruce says “If the purpose of art is to reflect life and the human experience, that includes politics, as inevitably as it includes sex and spirituality, money and all the other things that interest people. I like to get everything in there.”