In addition to receiving 13 Juno Awards throughout his career, Cockburn was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1982 before being promoted to Officer in 2002. In 1998, he received the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, which is Canada’s highest honour in the performing arts.
More recently, in 2012, Cockburn received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal as well as the Lifetime Achievement Award from SOCAN.
In 2001, Cockburn told Toronto Sun reporter Jane Stevenson he had mixed feelings about this admittedly “great honour.”
“It seemed like you’re supposed to be dead or something to be in the Hall Of Fame—and I didn’t feel that dead. It kind of took me aback slightly—it’s a great honour at the same time, so the feelings were mixed. I was slightly uncomfortable because of that but I’ve kind of gotten over that now. It’s just a nice thing,” he told Stevenson.
“I’ve had time to reflect on the Hall of Fame thing, time to get over my fear of taxidermy. That was a very big part of my initial response. Some of my fellow inductees are still alive, some aren’t. Some are active, some aren’t. Some are doing living things, others are repeating what they’ve already done. That’s the category I don’t want to find myself in.
“It’s a compliment, of course, a great honour. A lot of people take this stuff really seriously and put great stock in it, and good for them. They’re saying something really nice to me and about me by inducting me, and that’s great, I appreciate it. But I’ll never stop what I’m doing. I’m concerned about age as a human being facing certain prospects, though I’m not yet aching in the places where I used to play, as Leonard [Cohen] says. But, as an artist, I’m not concerned. If age means shutting down, closing the heart, relying on past habits to get you through, it’ll be a problem for any kind of creative work. So far that hasn’t been the case. I feel as if I’m learning at the same rate as I always have, but I’m more aware of it now, and able to appreciate it more.
“My models for graceful aging are guys like John Lee Hooker and Mississippi John Hurt, who never stop working till they drop. Eventually time is going to get everyone, but in the meantime, they stay out there, doing their thing – out of necessity, to a degree, as I fully expect to be doing – and just getting better as musicians and as human beings. You don’t have to stop maturing just because you become mature.”
After accepting his induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, Cockburn gave his thanks.
“I want to thank the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Ross Reynolds, Randy Lennox and everyone at Universal, the gang at True North for their daily tolerance and support; the many excellent musicians and technicians I’ve had the good fortune to work with and learn from; my family and friends who fed me in so many ways; and Bernie Finkelstein who’s gifts of heart and mind have, for 31 years, kept me visible and audible to people around the world.”
2011 CANADIAN RECORDING ARTISTS SERIES
In 2011, Canada Post featured Cockburn on a 59-cent permanent stamp (Scott #2480) from its Canadian Recording Artists series. The stamp depicts a portrait of Cockburn atop the names of his various songs, including Coldest Night of the Year and If I Had a Rocket Launcher.
Cockburn has recorded 31 albums, 20 of which have gone gold or platinum. He has also received seven honorary doctorates in recognition of his lifelong contributions to Canadian culture.
For a few years, Canada Post dabbled in commemorating Canadian musicians with its biennial “Canadian Recording Artists” series, which ran from 2007-13.
In 2007, the first four-stamp booklet pane (Scott #2222) was issued. This first set featured Gordon Lightfoot (SC #2222a), Joni Mitchell (SC #2222b), Anne Murray (SC #2222c) and Paul Anka (SC #2222d).
The second set (SC #2333) was issued in 2009 and featured Robert Charlebois (SC #2333a), Édith Butler (SC #2333b), Stompin Tom Connors (SC #2333c) and Bryan Adams (SC #2333d).
In 2011, the third four-stamp set—this featuring Cockburn—was issued. Also featured were Ginette Reno (SC #2479), Robbie Robertson (SC #2481) and Kate and Anna McGarrigle (SC #2482).
Finally, in 2013, the series returned with a four-stamp souvenir sheet (SC #2655) featuring Canadian bands, including The Tragically Hip (SC #2656), Rush (SC #2657), Beau Dommage (SC #2658) and The Guess Who (SC #2659).