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Bonnie Dobson gets hall-of-fame treatment at Mariposa

Dobson's song, Morning Dew, inducted in Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame

The Grateful Dead did it. Robert Plant did it. Jeff Beck did it. Nazareth did it.

But Bonnie Dobson did it first.

Morning Dew, written by Dobson 57 years ago, continues to be popular among well-known artists who want to cover the folk classic.

No one does it quite like Dobson, who, on Saturday, at the Mariposa Folk Festival, was on hand as her song was inducted in the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.

If you ask Dobson why the song still resonates with so many musicians, she answers honestly.

“I don’t know,” she told OrilliaMatters after the induction. “It’s a very simple song, but loads of musicians have interpreted it with different meanings.”

She was inspired to write Morning Dew after a conversation about a hypothetical nuclear disaster. In her song, one man and one woman remained following a nuclear apocalypse.

That it continues to be recorded — one recent example being The National’s 2016 cover — “really amazes me,” she said.

For Dobson, the most important rendition was Plant’s. It is arguably the most popular cover of Morning Dew.

She praised the former Led Zeppelin singer on stage Saturday: “He gave me my song back.”

Dobson premiered Morning Dew at the inaugural Mariposa Folk Festival in 1961. She performed it Saturday, marking the sixth time she has played the tune at the festival.

She was honoured to learn the song would be inducted in the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. It became even more of a thrill when she learned Gordon Lightfoot would be inducting it.

After Lightfoot performed during a “surprise” appearance (in recent years, it’s become more a question of when rather than will he perform at Mariposa), Lightfoot, co-president of the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, presented Dobson with the honour.

“That was the icing on the cake,” she said.

Dobson and Lightfoot performed at the Algoma Folk Festival in Sault Ste. Marie in 1965, she recalled. She hadn’t seen him in decades, until she attended one of his shows a couple of years ago, when they reconnected.

“He has written the most amazing, best songs about Canada,” Dobson said of Lightfoot.

Festival president Pam Carter was elated to have the induction take place at Mariposa.

“Mariposa is hugely honoured to have this induction ceremony happen here,” she said.

Expect more of that to happen in the future.

When Vanessa Thomas, executive director of the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, heard Carter’s comment, she said, “It’s the first of many.”




Nathan Taylor

About the Author: Nathan Taylor

Nathan Taylor is an experienced multimedia journalist and editor who covers Orillia and other parts of Simcoe County.
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