In a song induction partnership between the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF) and the Mariposa Folk Festival, “Morning Dew,” by Bonnie Dobson, will be inducted into the CSHF at the 2018 edition of the festival. Dobson will perform the song live, and receive the honour, during the event, which takes place July 6-8 in Tudhope Park, in Orillia, Ontario. Dobson performed the anti-nuke protest ballad, accompanying herself on acoustic guitar, at the very first Mariposa fest in 1961.
“Morning Dew” is a dialogue song between the sole surviving woman and man in a post-nuclear dystopia; she’s naïvely in denial; he’s the hopeless voice of doom. Radiation has turned the morning dew – yesterday’s life-giving water – into an annihilator.
At the height of Cold War tensions in 1961 Dobson, a folksinger, was performing in Los Angeles at the Ash Grove club. She’d been deeply moved by the anti-nuke movie On the Beach, and after discussing it with friends, composed “Morning Dew.” “I had never written anything in my life,” she says. “This song just came out, and really, it was a kind of re-enactment of that film in a way, where at the end there is nobody left…. apocalypse, that was what it was about.”
Over the years, the song grew into a powerful blues-rock protest anthem, with subsequent singers adding lyric variations. It’s been covered by a legion of artists, including The Grateful Dead, Lulu, Jeff Beck with Rod Stewart, The Allman Brothers, Nazareth, Long John Baldry, and Serena Ryder, among countless others. Dobson performed the song with Robert Plant at the Royal Festival Hall in the U.K. in 2013.
“The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame is partnering this year with our country’s most vibrant music festivals and events – coast to coast — to honour the songwriters and songs that are connected to each region,” said Vanessa Thomas, Executive Director of the organization. “We’re very excited to have Bonnie Dobson join us to perform and induct her song.”
Says Mariposa Folk Foundation President Pam Carter, “It’s a distinct pleasure to host this Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame induction of this important song… Bonnie Dobson appeared at Mariposa six times during the 1960s, and this will be a wonderful homecoming.”
Bonnie Dobson was born in Toronto in 1940. Influenced by The Weavers, The Travellers, Pete Seeger and Paul Robeson, she was part of the 1960s urban folk movement, appearing often at U.S. colleges and clubs, Toronto folk clubs and festivals, and on the CBC and BBC television networks. She was rated by Time magazine as second in popularity only to Joan Baez, and had hits with “I Got Stung” (1969) and “Good Morning Rain” (1970). She moved to London in 1969 and toured extensively in the U.K. and Europe until 1989, when she decided to return to university. She studied Politics, Philosophy and History at Birkbeck College, and ended up running the Faculty of Arts until 2007. In 2013 she returned to the music business, releasing the album Morning Dew.