Billy Joel covers Gordon Lightfoot in heartfelt tribute to his 'lifelong musical hero'

6 May 2023, 12:33 | Updated: 10 January 2024, 12:40

After Gordon Lightfoot passed away, Billy Joel called him his "lifelong musical hero".
After Gordon Lightfoot passed away, Billy Joel called him his "lifelong musical hero". Picture: Getty

Gordon Lightfoot's contribution to music cannot be overstated.

In a career that spanned seven decades, the Canadian folk singer is widely considered to have defined the folk-pop sound of the 1960s and 1970s.

The legendary Bob Dylan revered Gordon Lightfoot and considered him a musical peer, and even Neil Young referred to his music as "an inspiration to all writers".

Late folk hero John Prine also adored the Canadian's music and declared he was his hero, dedicating songs to him in the past.

"I know that night we went out and had a coupla beers and you were standing in the middle of Yonge Street singing the chorus to this, so this is for you, Gord" he once declared at a concert of his.

So after his recent passing at the age of 84, tributes came pouring in from the music world and beyond, with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and author Stephen King sending their condolences.

Now Billy Joel has become the latest artist to pay tribute to the esteemed life and work of Gordon Lightfoot with a heartfelt cover of his classic song 'If You Could Read My Mind'.

Posting the rendition to his 571,000 followers and fans on Instagram, Billy is seen sat behind his iconic piano before playing the first notes of Gordon's iconic song.

Alongside the video of his performance, Billy Joel wrote in the caption: "So sad to hear of the death of Gordon Lightfoot."

"He was a lifelong musical hero of mine. 
His songs were the heart of Canada.

 Billy Joel."

Evidently, Gordon's music made a huge impact on his fellow songwriters, as it was celebrated and even covered by many superstars throughout his career.

The likes of Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Barbra Streisand, Harry Belafonte, Johnny Cash, Olivia Newton-John, Glen Campbell, Liza Minelli, Paul Weller and Herb Alpert have all put their spin on Lightfoot's music in the past.

During his lengthy and lauded career in music, Lightfoot received five Grammy Award nominations throughout and won a total of 17 Juno awards.

It was Bob Dylan that would induct Gordon into the Canadian Music Hall Of Fame at the 1986 Juno Awards and called him "somebody of rare talent."

In a surprise turnout, Dylan cheekily admitted on the podium that "I've known Gordon for a long time, and he's refused this award before and has never accepted it, because he wanted me to come and give it to him."

Bob Dylan Inducts Gordon Lightfoot into The Canadian Music Hall of Fame at The 1986 JUNO Awards

Gordon Lightfoot performing at London's Royal Albert Hall in 1973.
Gordon Lightfoot performing at London's Royal Albert Hall in 1973. Picture: Getty

Another Canadian music legend, Neil Young, also paid a sentimental tribute to Lightfoot after hearing about this death.

"I just spoke to Gordon a few weeks back and he sounded happy, although he cancelled some shows and was re-organizing his touring" Neil wrote on his website Neil Young Archives.

"I was saddened when I learned today of his passing. Gordon was a great Canadian artist. A songwriter without parallel."

"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. Lightfoot is a Canadian legend" he concluded.

Neil Young had previously covered Lightfoot’s most celebrated songs 'Early Morning Rain' and 'If You Could Read My Mind' on his 2014 lo-fi covers album A Letter Home.

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