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Old 04-28-2004, 08:34 AM   #1
Jim Driskell
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Location: Brockton, Ma. United States
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It gives me a great thrill to give you this! Enjoy:

The legend lives on


Even as he lay in his McMaster hospital bed, Lightfoot began to think of his latest album; Final of two parts
By Graham Rockingham


About 10 days after Gordon Lightfoot recovered consciousness, his thoughts began turning back to his music.

He'd been in a coma for six weeks in intensive care at McMaster University Medical Centre after an artery ruptured in his abdomen. It was near Halloween 2002. It would still be months before he would be able to play guitar, many months more before he could even consider singing.

Before his near fatal attack, Lightfoot had taped practice demos of 18 new songs at Grant Avenue Studios in Hamilton with his producer Bob Doidge. The recordings were just Lightfoot and his guitar.

"My mind went back," Lightfoot recalls of those first thoughts he had of music while lying in his hospital bed.

"It carried me back to these practice recordings that I had made. And they didn't sound all that bad to me at the time, I told myself. I said let's review the whole lot and see what's in there that we can use."

Back at the studio, Doidge had already started work on those practice tracks. A devoted Lightfoot fan, Doidge had taped them with extra care on multi-track recording equipment.

"I approached everything he breathed into a microphone as if it was maybe his last song," Doidge says. It was a wise decision.

Ever since he was a kid growing up in Ancaster, Doidge had dreamed of nothing else but playing bass for his idol, Gordon Lightfoot. Doidge used to lock himself in his room for hours, learning the bass lines by John Stockfish on those early Lightfoot records, like The Way I Feel, Did She Mention My Name and Back Here on Earth.

Stockfish and Lightfoot had an amazing interplay not apparent in other folk/strumming acts of the era.

Even after Doidge and his friend Daniel Lanois had begun playing in backup bands with performers like Ray Materick, Shirley Eikhard and Sylvia Tyson, Doidge would phone Lightfoot's management, offering his services.

"I used to call up and say if you ever need a bass player, even for one night, I can play every song note for note," Doidge, 52, says. "Every year, I'd call. It got to be a running joke with (Lightfoot's) band."

In 1985, when Lanois went off to become world famous producing for acts like U2 and Peter Gabriel, Doidge took over Grant Avenue Studios, the old house in Hamilton's downtown that Lanois and his brother Bob had converted into a world-class recording facility.

Eleven years later when Lightfoot was looking for a new sound engineer, his drummer Barry Keane remembered the Hamilton bass player who used to pester them for a break. Lightfoot phoned up Doidge and invited him to record his new album in Toronto.

"I said sure, but all my stuff is here in Hamilton," Doidge says. "Lightfoot paused for a minute and then said, 'Well, I'll come there.' "

The resulting collaboration was 1998's Painter Passing Through, recorded at Grant Avenue with Doidge as co-producer with Lightfoot.

In 2000, Lightfoot began writing songs for what would eventually become his 20th album.

He was happy with his new recording digs in Hamilton, so he returned to Grant Avenue to lay down the first demo tracks in the summer of 2002.

He recorded them without the help of a click track or metronome, something he had used on his more recent albums to keep his tempo from wandering. The absence of the clicking metronome made for a more relaxed session. You can hear it in his voice. The songs come easy, unforced, no stress or strain.

"They've got that flow that I used to get earlier on," Lightfoot says.

Still, the recordings were never intended to be used on the new album.

Lightfoot planned to rehearse them with the band, take them out on tour for a test drive, then head back into the studio and get the final versions down.

The aneurysm that struck down Lightfoot Sept. 7, 2002, a few hours before a benefit show in his hometown of Orillia, forced a change in plans.

Lightfoot arranged for a portable CD player to be brought to his hospital room "with a headset so I wouldn't wake up the neighbours."

He listened to the demos, determined that at least nine were good enough for use on the new album. The band was assembled across town from the hospital at Grant Avenue and backing tracks began to be recorded.

"So they would burn a CD at the end of the day and the bass player, Rick Haynes, who has been a great help to me all through this, would drop one over to me at the hospital," Lightfoot explains.

"I 'd listen to it for a day or two and Rick would come in and we'd discuss what me might do a little bit differently or what we might add, or what we might want to do over again. There were quite a few things that were done over again. You don't just want one attempt made. These things are made quite meticulously."

Over the years, Lightfoot had built up quite a reputation for paying attention to the smallest details. He studied musical arrangement at an early age and would write out every part for every instrument on his albums.

Luckily for the musicians working at Grant Avenue in his absence, some of the arrangements had already been written down.

So it was with some trepidation that Doidge asked Lightfoot if he could try his hand at arranging and recording all the backing instrumentation on one of the tracks. Lightfoot gave him the OK.

Doidge is a natural musician. Give him a few hours and he can learn just about any instrument, stringed, brass or percussion. He took End of All Time, a soul-searching love song, and backed it with himself on strings, bass, piano, pan pipes, percussion and guitar. More than any other song on the new album, it sounds like the Lightfoot of old, reminiscent of the classic Song for a Winter's Night. Lightfoot's voice is steady and strong, Doidge's arrangements a labour of love.

"He called me up from the hospital and said, 'I like it. Do another,' " Doidge says. The producer took on Sometimes I Wish, the 11th and last track on the new album. Doidge plays everything on the track but drums.

Most of the other music was performed by his longtime bandmates -- Haynes on bass, Keane on drums and Mike Heffernan on keyboards.

Another old friend, Red Shea, was called by Lightfoot to contribute lead guitar to Flyin' Blind, a story of polar adventure, and No Mistake About It, a song about a woman "who moves like a raptor, moves like a snake."

They sent a digital audiotape to Shea's home where he recorded over the tracks. "He worked his fingers to the bone to get those parts," Lightfoot says. "Believe you me, he really did."

Altogether they used nine songs from those practice sessions.

"But that's really two short of a full deck when you're making an album," Lightfoot said.

They found two more songs on a recording Doidge had made of a Lightfoot concert at Massey Hall in May 2001. The gentle and introspective Shellfish and the rowdy No Hotel round the album out.

The sound quality of the two live recordings was so good that Lightfoot said he was worried people would think they were recorded in the studio.

"When we do concerts, we're at our best," he said. "That's why we like doing them so much. We're always in perfect tune and everybody's right up there. It's just like being out on the ice playing hockey, really. You get the same feeling."

The finished album is called Harmony, Lightfoot's 20th in a recording career stretching back almost 40 years. The album will be released May 11. The first single is called Inspiration Lady, one of those songs filled with all the things we should tell our mate on a daily basis, but rarely do. In February, Lightfoot recorded a video for the single. It's already in rotation on MuchMoreMusic and Country Music Television Canada. (It can also be viewed on www.linusentertainment.com.)

Lightfoot is 65 now and in the past 20 months, he's been to the brink and back. It's a miracle Harmony was ever made, let alone recorded with such strength and vitality.

He got out of the hospital in December 2002 with months of therapy still ahead. Doctors say it will be at least 24 months in all. He's in his 19th month now and hoping to be able to perform again either late this year or early next.

"When I got back home, one of the first things I did was pick up a guitar. My fingers were as stiff as boards.

"I kept working at it and pretty soon I got playing. By the time we did the video early in February, I figure I was better than I was before I got sick because I practised so much. So I practise every day and my hands are fine. It was just getting everything working."

Since his illness, much has happened in the world of Gordon Lightfoot. It's as if the entire nation suddenly realized we can't take our icons for granted. Last year some of the top artists in Canada, including the Tragically Hip, Quartette, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Murray McLauchlan, Bruce Cockburn and Blue Rodeo made a critically acclaimed Lightfoot tribute album called Beautiful. Late last year he was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters' Hall of Fame.

The writer of Early Morning Rain, Canadian Railroad Trilogy, Sundown, If You Could Read My Mind and The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald shrugs off all the attention. All he did, he says, was show others it could be done.

"It's the work ethic that they admire. I know that," Lightfoot says.

"Get the job done for as long as you can because the day will come when you will not be doing it anymore."

grockingham@thespec.com

905-526-3331

Jim Driskell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-28-2004, 08:34 AM   #2
Minstrel Man
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Hamilton
Posts: 163
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It gives me a great thrill to give you this! Enjoy:

The legend lives on


Even as he lay in his McMaster hospital bed, Lightfoot began to think of his latest album; Final of two parts
By Graham Rockingham


About 10 days after Gordon Lightfoot recovered consciousness, his thoughts began turning back to his music.

He'd been in a coma for six weeks in intensive care at McMaster University Medical Centre after an artery ruptured in his abdomen. It was near Halloween 2002. It would still be months before he would be able to play guitar, many months more before he could even consider singing.

Before his near fatal attack, Lightfoot had taped practice demos of 18 new songs at Grant Avenue Studios in Hamilton with his producer Bob Doidge. The recordings were just Lightfoot and his guitar.

"My mind went back," Lightfoot recalls of those first thoughts he had of music while lying in his hospital bed.

"It carried me back to these practice recordings that I had made. And they didn't sound all that bad to me at the time, I told myself. I said let's review the whole lot and see what's in there that we can use."

Back at the studio, Doidge had already started work on those practice tracks. A devoted Lightfoot fan, Doidge had taped them with extra care on multi-track recording equipment.

"I approached everything he breathed into a microphone as if it was maybe his last song," Doidge says. It was a wise decision.

Ever since he was a kid growing up in Ancaster, Doidge had dreamed of nothing else but playing bass for his idol, Gordon Lightfoot. Doidge used to lock himself in his room for hours, learning the bass lines by John Stockfish on those early Lightfoot records, like The Way I Feel, Did She Mention My Name and Back Here on Earth.

Stockfish and Lightfoot had an amazing interplay not apparent in other folk/strumming acts of the era.

Even after Doidge and his friend Daniel Lanois had begun playing in backup bands with performers like Ray Materick, Shirley Eikhard and Sylvia Tyson, Doidge would phone Lightfoot's management, offering his services.

"I used to call up and say if you ever need a bass player, even for one night, I can play every song note for note," Doidge, 52, says. "Every year, I'd call. It got to be a running joke with (Lightfoot's) band."

In 1985, when Lanois went off to become world famous producing for acts like U2 and Peter Gabriel, Doidge took over Grant Avenue Studios, the old house in Hamilton's downtown that Lanois and his brother Bob had converted into a world-class recording facility.

Eleven years later when Lightfoot was looking for a new sound engineer, his drummer Barry Keane remembered the Hamilton bass player who used to pester them for a break. Lightfoot phoned up Doidge and invited him to record his new album in Toronto.

"I said sure, but all my stuff is here in Hamilton," Doidge says. "Lightfoot paused for a minute and then said, 'Well, I'll come there.' "

The resulting collaboration was 1998's Painter Passing Through, recorded at Grant Avenue with Doidge as co-producer with Lightfoot.

In 2000, Lightfoot began writing songs for what would eventually become his 20th album.

He was happy with his new recording digs in Hamilton, so he returned to Grant Avenue to lay down the first demo tracks in the summer of 2002.

He recorded them without the help of a click track or metronome, something he had used on his more recent albums to keep his tempo from wandering. The absence of the clicking metronome made for a more relaxed session. You can hear it in his voice. The songs come easy, unforced, no stress or strain.

"They've got that flow that I used to get earlier on," Lightfoot says.

Still, the recordings were never intended to be used on the new album.

Lightfoot planned to rehearse them with the band, take them out on tour for a test drive, then head back into the studio and get the final versions down.

The aneurysm that struck down Lightfoot Sept. 7, 2002, a few hours before a benefit show in his hometown of Orillia, forced a change in plans.

Lightfoot arranged for a portable CD player to be brought to his hospital room "with a headset so I wouldn't wake up the neighbours."

He listened to the demos, determined that at least nine were good enough for use on the new album. The band was assembled across town from the hospital at Grant Avenue and backing tracks began to be recorded.

"So they would burn a CD at the end of the day and the bass player, Rick Haynes, who has been a great help to me all through this, would drop one over to me at the hospital," Lightfoot explains.

"I 'd listen to it for a day or two and Rick would come in and we'd discuss what me might do a little bit differently or what we might add, or what we might want to do over again. There were quite a few things that were done over again. You don't just want one attempt made. These things are made quite meticulously."

Over the years, Lightfoot had built up quite a reputation for paying attention to the smallest details. He studied musical arrangement at an early age and would write out every part for every instrument on his albums.

Luckily for the musicians working at Grant Avenue in his absence, some of the arrangements had already been written down.

So it was with some trepidation that Doidge asked Lightfoot if he could try his hand at arranging and recording all the backing instrumentation on one of the tracks. Lightfoot gave him the OK.

Doidge is a natural musician. Give him a few hours and he can learn just about any instrument, stringed, brass or percussion. He took End of All Time, a soul-searching love song, and backed it with himself on strings, bass, piano, pan pipes, percussion and guitar. More than any other song on the new album, it sounds like the Lightfoot of old, reminiscent of the classic Song for a Winter's Night. Lightfoot's voice is steady and strong, Doidge's arrangements a labour of love.

"He called me up from the hospital and said, 'I like it. Do another,' " Doidge says. The producer took on Sometimes I Wish, the 11th and last track on the new album. Doidge plays everything on the track but drums.

Most of the other music was performed by his longtime bandmates -- Haynes on bass, Keane on drums and Mike Heffernan on keyboards.

Another old friend, Red Shea, was called by Lightfoot to contribute lead guitar to Flyin' Blind, a story of polar adventure, and No Mistake About It, a song about a woman "who moves like a raptor, moves like a snake."

They sent a digital audiotape to Shea's home where he recorded over the tracks. "He worked his fingers to the bone to get those parts," Lightfoot says. "Believe you me, he really did."

Altogether they used nine songs from those practice sessions.

"But that's really two short of a full deck when you're making an album," Lightfoot said.

They found two more songs on a recording Doidge had made of a Lightfoot concert at Massey Hall in May 2001. The gentle and introspective Shellfish and the rowdy No Hotel round the album out.

The sound quality of the two live recordings was so good that Lightfoot said he was worried people would think they were recorded in the studio.

"When we do concerts, we're at our best," he said. "That's why we like doing them so much. We're always in perfect tune and everybody's right up there. It's just like being out on the ice playing hockey, really. You get the same feeling."

The finished album is called Harmony, Lightfoot's 20th in a recording career stretching back almost 40 years. The album will be released May 11. The first single is called Inspiration Lady, one of those songs filled with all the things we should tell our mate on a daily basis, but rarely do. In February, Lightfoot recorded a video for the single. It's already in rotation on MuchMoreMusic and Country Music Television Canada. (It can also be viewed on www.linusentertainment.com.)

Lightfoot is 65 now and in the past 20 months, he's been to the brink and back. It's a miracle Harmony was ever made, let alone recorded with such strength and vitality.

He got out of the hospital in December 2002 with months of therapy still ahead. Doctors say it will be at least 24 months in all. He's in his 19th month now and hoping to be able to perform again either late this year or early next.

"When I got back home, one of the first things I did was pick up a guitar. My fingers were as stiff as boards.

"I kept working at it and pretty soon I got playing. By the time we did the video early in February, I figure I was better than I was before I got sick because I practised so much. So I practise every day and my hands are fine. It was just getting everything working."

Since his illness, much has happened in the world of Gordon Lightfoot. It's as if the entire nation suddenly realized we can't take our icons for granted. Last year some of the top artists in Canada, including the Tragically Hip, Quartette, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Murray McLauchlan, Bruce Cockburn and Blue Rodeo made a critically acclaimed Lightfoot tribute album called Beautiful. Late last year he was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters' Hall of Fame.

The writer of Early Morning Rain, Canadian Railroad Trilogy, Sundown, If You Could Read My Mind and The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald shrugs off all the attention. All he did, he says, was show others it could be done.

"It's the work ethic that they admire. I know that," Lightfoot says.

"Get the job done for as long as you can because the day will come when you will not be doing it anymore."

grockingham@thespec.com

905-526-3331

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Old 04-28-2004, 10:04 AM   #3
mtheeb
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Incredible. Best article yet. (Thanks again!)
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Old 04-28-2004, 10:04 AM   #4
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Incredible. Best article yet. (Thanks again!)
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Old 04-28-2004, 11:46 AM   #5
Auburn Annie
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I'm grinnin'. Goes to show it pays to be in the right place at the right time and ready when opportunity shows up at your door (for both Bob and Gord.)
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Old 04-28-2004, 11:46 AM   #6
Auburn Annie
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I'm grinnin'. Goes to show it pays to be in the right place at the right time and ready when opportunity shows up at your door (for both Bob and Gord.)
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Old 04-28-2004, 12:13 PM   #7
DMD3
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Even as he lay in his McMaster hospital bed, Lightfoot began to think
of his latest album; Final of two parts
By Graham Rockingham


About 10 days after Gordon Lightfoot recovered consciousness, his
thoughts began turning back to his music.

That's the spirit! That made me VERY happy reading this.
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Old 04-28-2004, 12:13 PM   #8
DMD3
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Even as he lay in his McMaster hospital bed, Lightfoot began to think
of his latest album; Final of two parts
By Graham Rockingham


About 10 days after Gordon Lightfoot recovered consciousness, his
thoughts began turning back to his music.

That's the spirit! That made me VERY happy reading this.
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-28-2004, 03:48 PM   #9
Don Quixote
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I am a new member and this is a great article! Gord has been my musical influence since 1970. He is an amazing human being that we love and admire (He'd probably shrug that one off!)and I wish him a full recovery. I hope he knows we need him!
Sean

------------------
sean
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Old 04-28-2004, 03:48 PM   #10
searam
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I am a new member and this is a great article! Gord has been my musical influence since 1970. He is an amazing human being that we love and admire (He'd probably shrug that one off!)and I wish him a full recovery. I hope he knows we need him!
Sean

------------------
sean
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Old 04-28-2004, 11:48 PM   #11
Tyler
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Searam-welcome, we all feel the same way. Hope you enjoy the board.

MM Thanks for posting the great article. Seems as if Gord has decided to be a little more personal with his fans. He has given some very telling interviews. This one sure answers some questions we all had about his hospital stay. Thanks!
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Old 04-28-2004, 11:48 PM   #12
brink
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Searam-welcome, we all feel the same way. Hope you enjoy the board.

MM Thanks for posting the great article. Seems as if Gord has decided to be a little more personal with his fans. He has given some very telling interviews. This one sure answers some questions we all had about his hospital stay. Thanks!
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