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Old 11-03-2023, 06:40 PM   #101
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Default Re: R.I.P Gord

May 2, 2023
A Personal Appreciation

Peter O’Brien

Canada doesn’t have too many icons, and the few it does have tend to be begotten, not made. It seems now that Gordon Lightfoot, who died yesterday, May 1, 2023, had always been with us and would always be with us.

From a youthful choirboy singing at St. Paul’s United Church in Orillia, to the hard-living troubadour singing about vanishing love and about nature that is both beautiful and terrifying, Gord was always an intimate part of our lives. He sang about us, but he also sang to us and with us.

I met Gord about 15 years ago and was fortunate enough to spend a bit of time with him. We talked about various things: the deep creases that the guitar strings etched permanently into his fingertips; about Taylor Mitchell, a young singer-songwriter I knew, who had great potential but who died tragically while still in her teens – “She would have had a real future in music,” said Gord; about the importance of physical exercise to keep the body and soul moving forward; and about romance and related quotidian joys.

In our last conversation – which was over dinner at Scaramouche Restaurant in Toronto, with owner Mordy Yolles, Gord’s wife Kim, and Mordy’s son Dylan – Gord mentioned that he had recently donated his piano to a local school.

We talked about Glenn Gould, and I referenced some stories about Gould and his singular habits and passions. I mentioned how Gould, who often wore hats, gloves, and winter coats in the heat of the summer, was arrested in Sarasota, Florida, under the suspicion of being a homeless drifter (he was later released after it was revealed he was a famous concert pianist). He would sometimes play random TV shows in the background, or asked his cleaning woman to run the vacuum cleaner when he was learning a new piece of music. Gould sometimes needed those extraneous and disruptive sounds in order to concentrate on the ethereal matter at hand.

I asked Gord if he wanted wine with his meal. He responded, with definition, “I’m an alcoholic,” and then proceeded to talk about his years drinking a bottle of whiskey a day, and then quitting. I was worried that if he had a glass of wine that might start him drinking again. “No, it’s okay now,” he said. So we drank wine with the meal.

Mordy circled back to talk about Bach and Gould. Mordy likes to say that Gould talked like he played Bach, and we nodded.

I asked Gord about the sorry state of his hands. He had two bandages – on the index finger and the ring-finger of his left hand. Kim noted that his wedding ring had fallen off three times during his recent tour in the US. He started to wear a band-aid around his left-hand ring-finger so the ring didn’t fall off.

Gord led an adventurous life, and we talked about the various kinds of mistakes that people make. I quoted Joyce: “A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.” It seemed to me that there were opportunities for various portals of discovery around the table.

In a photo taken that evening, Gord is holding a book I made about Mordy. It’s called I Know the Answers But I Don’t Know the Questions. I had brought a copy of the book for Mordy to sign for Gord. It is full of funny and witty “Mordyisms,” and we had lots of laughs over the course of the evening reciting some of them. Mordy signed his name in the book, and then wrote “not funny” under his name, which we all laughed at.

Gord’s voice was weak, and even though I was sitting beside him, I had to lean in to capture all his words. But he definitely wanted to talk, and laugh.

I know that producing music and words that can live on takes significant effort, inspiration, and hard work, but sometimes the results seem as though they just tumbled out, fully and spontaneously and elegantly formed.

Listening to Gould play Bach, and to Gord singing about the early morning rain encourages me to appreciate talents that seem as thought they were effortlessly gathered from the air – as though they were begotten, not made. And that leads me to eternal thanks.


Peter O’Brien works for The Glenn Gould Foundation
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Old 12-12-2023, 10:52 PM   #102
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Default Re: R.I.P Gord

A reflection on the death of Canadian music icon Gordon Lightfoot
By Jeff Mahoney Spectator Reporter
Tuesday, May 2, 2023

If we could read his mind? We most surely could, even in the castle dark of Canada’s foreshortened winter days.

He shone the light, often a hard one, and held the page down for us.

And what a tale ... Gordon Lightfoot’s music was the large print in which that tale became legible, the window through which that mind appeared, and the music’s texture was the braille we ran our searching Canadian fingers over.

Read his mind? He helped us read our own, helped us, as great songwriters and their songs do, to find and feel something that inheres in us, deeply, something more essential to us than we ourselves really even know is there.

He took us to those places, to those feelings and blind corners of our being, on everything from trains in trilogies to a sinking laker getting swallowed up, along with the souls of the sailors, into the last infinity and stillness of Superior’s vast depths.

Lightfoot. Even the name. The bright airy trochaic lift of that first beat, the gently touching-down groundedness of the second. And Gordon? The name, as he wore it, was like something carved out of the rock in the Canadian Shield.

Yes, the legend — who died Monday at 84 — lives on, from the Arctic on down ... all over Canada, but with a special relevance for Hamilton.

Did I call him a great songwriter in that fourth paragraph? Let Bob Doidge qualify. “He was the greatest songwriter,” says the celebrated and sought after producer and co-owner (until recently) of Hamilton’s legendary Grant Avenue Studio, where Lightfoot recorded many albums.

“Oh, you might put McCartney in there or Paul Simon,” adds Doidge. But Doidge didn’t spend 25 years producing their music as he did with Gordon Lightfoot.

Doidge is just one of many connections between Lightfoot and Hamilton, a city he loved, perhaps the most dramatic being the life-saving surgery he received here after being rushed to McMaster hospital by air ambulance for stomach surgery in 2002. He later did a benefit concert for the hospital as a gesture of gratitude.

Doidge’s relationship with Lightfoot started — and Hamilton’s was accordingly intensified — with a phone call in 1997. Lightfoot was looking for a new sound, a new producer and studio. Barry Keane, his drummer and recording expert, told him, “Your number 1 fan (that would be Bob Doidge) owns a studio and would kill to work with you.”

Doidge got a call from Barry, saying that in 10 minutes Gordon Lightfoot would be calling him. And he did.

“I just sat down, smoking every cigarette I could find (he has since quit) and drinking coffee after coffee, trying to sound rational and coherent.”

He was that dumbstruck because it didn’t really start with the phone call in 1997. It started when Doidge was in his teens and got taken along to a Gordon Lightfoot concert. “I was into The Beatles and psychedelia at that time.” That concert turned him right around. He knew right from that moment.

“I wanted to play the bass guitar and I wanted to play for Gordon Lightfoot.” Very handy even then, he made his own bass guitar.

After that ’97 phone call, Doidge ended up producing Lightfoot’s 1998 released album “A Painter Passing Through.”

He went on to produce “Harmony” and numerous other records including a live one from Reno and the Royal Albert Hall.

“Doing ‘Harmony,’ one of the albums I made with him, he was in hospital (after the aforementioned surgery) and was working on it from his hospital bed,” Doidge recalls. “I’d add in instruments (in the studio) and take it to him. He was fresh out of a coma. It was crazy.”

But that was Lightfoot, Doidge says, the most meticulous, giving, ever musical man he’d ever met. His teenage boyhood hero made flesh as a hero in real life.

Doidge wasn’t the only Hamiltonian to experience Lightfoot’s power to reach into one’s hunger for what it is — whatever mysterious unknown — that the soul is hungry for, at a young age.

Says renowned singer-songwriter/author/playwright Tom Wilson: “She (Tom’s mother) came through the door one day with a copy of a record ... Dropping the needle on that record changed my life immediately. It was responsible for igniting the devil in me and stirring the sludge up at the bottom of my lake. Everything was so real like the guy was standing right there beside me.”

That guy? You know who.

Thus was born a fan who, over the next decades, like Doidge, enjoyed several fan fantasies being lived out in real life — for instance, in Wilson’s case, inducting Gordon Lightfoot into the Mariposa Folk Festival Hall of Fame in 2022.

At the time Wilson said of Lightfoot, “He lives in our blood.”

Someone else, earlier, in 1986, inducted Lightfoot into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. You might have heard of him. Bob Dylan, who considered Lightfoot a songwriting mentor of sorts.

“All these people, all these artists,” says Doidge, “like the (late) Dan Fogelberg who says so right on his album” that Lightfoot is a chief songwriting influence. “Every single artist in the big leagues looks at him as the ultimate songwriter.”

Doidge recalls travelling with Lightfoot to Nashville to do some recording. “He said to me, ‘You wanna meet Joan?’ And there was Joan Baez and she throws her arms around Gordon and says, ‘It’s been too long.’”

It’s not just that he was such an influence; he was genuinely beloved.

“Straight up,” says Wilson. Lightfoot was just as naturally gracious and amiable as he seemed.

“He’s a hero. And I got to work with him. To work withe a hero, that’s something.” Lightfoot sang backup on the Wilson recording “Summer Side of Life.” “You can’t that buy kind of ...”

Says Doidge, “It’s hard to digest sometimes. I have so many instances when I’d come home the phone rings and Gordon Lightfoot is on the other end saying, ‘I’m just checking in.’ For 25 years I worked with him. I’m going to miss working with him, with a raw Gordon Lightfoot and guitar. Mostly, I’m going to miss him.”

His voice on the phone. His generosity.

But the legend lives on, and Bob knows it better than most. He still has raw material from Lightfoot that has never been heard before — songs, outtakes, demos. Right here in Hamilton. We’ll see what the future brings.

Gordon Lightfoot at Waterdown ArtsFest in 2017.
The Hamilton Spectator file photo

Bob Doidge at Grant Avenue Studios, the legendary Hamilton music studios started by Daniel and Bob Lanois.
The Hamilton Spectator file photo

Gordon Lightfoot on Sept. 6, 2009, singing "If You Could Read My Mind."
The Hamilton Spectator file photo

Canadian icon Gordon Lightfoot was just one of many music legends to record at Grant Avenue Studios.
The Hamilton Spectator file photo

Lincoln Alexander and Gordon Lightfoot on Sept. 6, 2009, talk about old times.
The Hamilton Spectator file photo

Gordon Lightfoot on stage with Brian Good at Waterdown ArtsFest in 2017.
The Hamilton Spectator file photo
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Old 12-12-2023, 11:04 PM   #103
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Default Re: R.I.P Gord

Canadian musical icon Gordon Lightfoot performed at FirstOntario Concert Hall on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2018.
The Hamilton Spectator file photo

Gordon Lightfoot on Sept. 6, 2009, admiring the bust of him made by local sculptor Gino Cavicchioli.
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Old 12-14-2023, 01:07 PM   #104
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Default Re: R.I.P Gord

Larry Groce Remembers Gordon Lightfoot

I bought Gordon Lightfoot’s first album in 1966 at my local record shop. I was already familiar with some of his songs from Peter, Paul, and Mary and especially Ian and Sylvia versions. I loved the recording.

He visited Mountain Stage in 1993 and 1998. Both visits thrilled me because I admired his songs and singing so much, but at the first one something very special happened.

In those days, Mountain Stage was live on West Virginia Public Radio. We would record the show and send it, unedited, to NPR for distribution via their satellite the next week. Our format was slightly different then. We would have three or four guests, not five like today, and most guests would do two sets, one during each hour. The guest we considered lead act would open and close the show.

Gordon, his band, and his manager arrived early on show day in a private plane that Gordon himself flew. During a pre-show discussion, his manager told our producer, Andy Ridenour, that Gordon would never do a finale song and he did not stay around to meet and greet or sign autographs after his shows. They would finish their set and immediately proceed to the airport to fly out. That was all fine with us. Our finale is never mandatory for anyone.

As expected, the first set went great and Gordon and his band, dressed in their dark, long-sleeved shirts, headed back to their dressing room. They didn’t mix with us or the other guests. Once again, hanging out with us is not required. Some folks do, others prefer their privacy. It’s their business.

All the other acts performed, including a beautiful set by David Lindley (with Hani Nassar) on his first visit, and then it was time for Gordon to finish the show. When he and his band came out of the dressing room, he had changed into a t-shirt and seemed a bit looser. Once again, the set was a triumph and received an immediate, spontaneous standing ovation. There were many lifelong Lightfoot fans in the full house.

We took a dive into our archives and found this live performance of ‘If You Could Read My Mind’ by Gordon Lightfoot from his May 9, 1993 appearance on Mountain Stage in Charleston, WV. see link below:

As I waited in the wings with the other artists to go out for the finale, Gordon came off, saw us and suddenly asked me if he could sing on the finale. I told him of course he could and asked if he wanted to take a verse. He said no, he’d just join the chorus. Then we all headed onto the stage.

I don’t remember what we were singing, but if I had known he was going to join in, I would have asked to do one of his many classic songs.

In any case, the finale was finished to another standing ovation, and everyone left the stage. As the audience filed out, a few folks rushed down to the front of the stage in hopes of getting Gordon’s attention. They succeeded and he sat on the stage and started signing autographs. Many had brought his albums and cassettes in anticipation of this moment.

Our crew proceeded to start taking down the equipment and I began to pack up my things. Andy was on stage watching to make sure everything was OK. In a few minutes, Gordon’s manager came up the stairs and asked where Gordon was. Andy pointed out the signing party down front.

The manager looked puzzled and concerned so Andy walked over to the gathering and told the folks that Mr. Lightfoot needed to get to the airport and the session would have to wrap up. Gordon smiled up at Andy and said that it was OK, it was his airplane.

Andy turned away and looked at the manager who just shrugged and said he’d never seen Gordon do this before. The last time I looked, there was a line of fans up the aisle all the way to the back of the hall. Gordon had gotten down off the stage and was signing albums and shaking hands with every one of them.

I thought to myself, I guess the manager has never been with him in West Virginia before. Our people just wanted to thank him for what he had given them. Gordon must have felt that.

audio: May 9, 1993 appearance on Mountain Stage in Charleston, WV.
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Old 12-15-2023, 08:37 AM   #105
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Default Re: R.I.P Gord

Wow, great story, and yes that's the way Gordon was. He loved his fans and showed it. Thank you for the post.
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Old 12-21-2023, 11:00 PM   #106
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Default Re: R.I.P Gord

May 2, 2023

Mark Clairmont |

GRAVENHURST — I sat on my front step today listening to Gordon Lightfoot songs and reading about his passing.

And recalling a 1984 visit to my home where Canada’s folk laureate sat on the same stoop for a family photo we’re tracking down today.

He had called my dad, Hugh Clairmont, and said he was dropping by for a visit one August day, recalled my sister, Chris Jones, who was there with her family.

It wasn’t unusual for famous musicians my dad knew or worked with to drop by the Clairmont home — many en route to Dunn’s Pavilion in Bala.

They chatted about their mutual music careers and reminiscing about playing together in Charlie Andrews’s band in Orillia — my dad on trumpet and Lightfoot singing and playing drum licks my dad taught him.

My mother had to race to bake butter tarts she said he loved, which to my sister meant he had been to our home before.
Mark Clairmont sits with today’s home delivery copy of the Toronto Star and it’s great headline about Gordon Lightfoot’s passing. It’s the same spot Lightfoot stood in 1984 during a visit to his friend and colleague Hugh Clairmont.

Over the years my dad and he and I occasionally got together like when he played his annual Massey Hall gigs.

I recall after one show us going back to his apartment next to Maple Leaf Gardens for a post party.

Another time I ran into him was again at Massey, thanks to his manager Bernie Fiedler, when Lightfoot told me “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” really put him on the map in the U.S.

In recent years at Mariposa Folk Festivals in Orillia we connected back stage as Lightfoot recalled playing the Barge in Gravenhurst — after first being refused after an audition.

Similar stories are being told today across Canada and in parts of the world after Lightfoot’s passing Monday, May 1, at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto at age 84.

His passing, ironically, came yesterday the same day as the Orillia Kiwanis Music Festival held a Festival Encore presentation of winners at the Orillia Opera House.

For it was the Kiwanis that early on helped set his path to stardom as a young singer in his hometown.

And so this Saturday the Orillia Opera House is certain to be sold out for “Early Morning Rain – Legend of Gordon Lightfoot.”

It’s billed as: “Spend the evening with the incredible music of a Canadian legend, and sing along to Sundown, For Loving Me, Early Morning Rain, Canadian Railroad Trilogy, Did She Mention My Name, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, Black Day in July, If You Could Read My Mind, Carefree Highway, Rainy Day People, Song For a Winter’s Night, Ribbon of Darkness, Alberta Bound, I’m Not Sayin’, Bitter Green, Cotton Jenny, Pussy Willows Cat-Tails and more!”
Gordon Lightfoot looked and sounded good last year at Casino Rama in his finaly local performance.

One person certain to be there is Lynne Westerby.

The former Bethune House employee, who just retired as manager of the Mariposa Pharmacy in Orillia, is a huge fan of Lightfoot.

“It’s a sad day. It hurts a lot,” she said this afternoon from the pharmacy where she still does deliveries.

She was listening to one of his songs on the radio as she left of her home for her run.

Last summer she met with Lightfoot at Mariposa and sat down for a lovely chat while they listened to Serena Ryder perform and he signed a sketch of himself, which by chance she bought at the souvenir booth.

“Even for the amount of time I got to spend with him he made me feel like an old friend. You know he was very warm and welcoming and kind. You know he took the time to sign a sketch for me. I just still to this day still feel very kind of surprised and honoured I got that opportunity with him. Yeah that was very special.

“I’ve got that wonderful sketch hanging in my home with a rose on it. It’s just beautiful. It’s all framed nicely and hanging in the most prominent space in my combination living room, dining room and kitchen. He’s got the best wall in the house now.”
Lynne Westerby shows her autographed sketch of Gordon Lightfoot she has in a “prominent” place in her home in Orillia.

Westerby is also saddened that Lightfoot won’t make his annual formal or informal appearance at Mariposa this July.

“I was just so hoping upon hope to see him there again. Even if he’s not scheduled, sometimes he just still goes. And I just felt like I was going to see him. You know I just did.

“As soon as I heard all those cancellations (last month), and the way he was talking to me last year about how he was loving it so much. And he’s got 13 people that love it and go everywhere with him, I just knew it was something big for him to cancel like he did.”

Westerby said that “way back months ago, I happened to buy tickets” for this weekend’s tribute performance “because there are performers doing Gordon Lightfoot music there.

“I was already going to that and to lose him in less than away week before that event …. It’s going to be beautiful to sit through that; but it’s going to be somewhat heartbreaking to sit through it as well. Some of both.”

Thelma Marin, of Bracebridge, was another devoted fan who “loved” and “admired him.”
She and husband Jim had seen him perform about a dozen times, including a contest win and when he closed and opened Massey Hall last year after recent renovations with friend and “chauffer” Fred Schulz.

After hearing of his passing on the late news Monday, “I read all the coverage, too.”

“I loved the front page (of the Toronto Star” ‘Sundown.’

“Yeah, you know, I guess the final moment is always the toughest. We should have been prepared, I guess, because they cancelled that tour.”

Lightfoot, she agreed, seemed almost invincible the way he kept bouncing back from illnesses.

“It’s too bad he put on all those hard miles back in the ’70s. That’s what really got him, I think. But you can’t reverse that damage. The damage is done.

“Oh dear, it’s very sad. But yeah, he’s 84. It’s pretty good. We’re only promised three score and 10 according to the Bible.”

“It’s surprising,” said Marin, “we’ve had several emails of condolence from people who know how much we loved him.”

She said in recent years Lightfoot’s “range, his physical range was down and his stamina was down a bit. He said as long as he could stand and sing he would do it.

“One of our daughters said ‘Why do you go and listen to that old man?’

“And I said, listen, as long as he stands up and sings for us, we will go and listen.

“Because I admired him, I really did. He didn’t look good, but he still sounded fine.

“We will miss him. End of an era. He really was a legend. Let’s be honest. No question.”
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Old 12-21-2023, 11:01 PM   #107
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Default Re: R.I.P Gord

Here are a few other good stories and videos about Lightfoot.






Lightfoot honours Dobson with award at Mariposa
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Old 01-31-2024, 05:26 PM   #108
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Default Re: R.I.P Gord

Updated headstone:
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Old 02-05-2024, 09:57 AM   #109
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Default Re: R.I.P Gord

Just curious, is Bev buried elsewhere?
"I'll see you all next Saturday..."
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Old 02-05-2024, 03:48 PM   #110
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Originally Posted by imported_Next_Saturday View Post
Just curious, is Bev buried elsewhere?
Yes, but at the same cemetery..
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Old 05-01-2024, 12:22 PM   #111
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Default One Year Today

Gone one year today
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Old 05-01-2024, 01:42 PM   #112
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Yeah, today has to be pretty hard on Kim and the family. Rick Haynes' comments on Gord's last days and how he was ready to pass on to the next adventure really made me feel better about Gord being gone. Still trying to find video from Gord's appearance on WTTW Channel 11's "Made in Chicago". Not from 1979 (Soundstage) but from 1972 before the name change. I've heard the audio, but the performance was great. I remember watching it when it premiered.
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Old 05-01-2024, 04:33 PM   #113
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Default Re: R.I.P Gord

Just merging today's posts with the original from May 1 2023.

I am so happy to be able to attend the Lightfoot Band shows - 5 so far - time spent with them and their families has helped so much over the last year...

I am ever thankful for the music and the kindness Gordon showed me over the years.. Always and forever remembered and missed...
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