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Old 07-23-2009, 08:32 AM   #1
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Default Canadian troubadour Gordon Lightfoot finds inspiration in his fans

July 23, 2009

Canadian troubadour Gordon Lightfoot finds inspiration in his fans

By Chris Kocher

A lot of folks at 70 years old are ready to kick back and take it easy. Not singer/songwriter Gordon Lightfoot, though.

The iconic Canadian troubadour - known for such 1970s hits as "Sundown," "If You Could Read My Mind" and "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" - isn't anywhere near retirement. Just take a glance at his tour itinerary: seventy-five or so shows in 2009, centered on eight regions across North America. On Saturday night, he'll showcase his reassuring baritone and folk-rock songbook at The Forum in Binghamton.

In a recent interview, Lightfoot credits the dedication of his backing musicians and crew as well as enthusiasm from audiences for his continued energy - even after a health scare seven years ago nearly ended his career.

"The fans fuel the passion for the work. I'm very, very fortunate to be able to write songs and sing as a living. I've done it all my life and I feel blessed to be able to do so," he said from his home in the Toronto area. "We're getting a better response now than perhaps many years ago, when I was concentrating more on recording and less on the show. The show really is the most important part of the whole thing, as far as I'm concerned."

Lightfoot has been rebuilding his stamina since a burst abdominal artery left him in a coma for several weeks in 2002 and kept him from touring for more than two years. With a keen sense of understatement, he called the affliction and recovery "not a small matter."

"My principal concern, about two days after I regained full consciousness, was, naturally, what I was going to do about my band and my organization. It was at that point when I really started fighting. Right from the very beginning, I had a strong desire to recover," he said. "Fortunately, at that time, I had quite a few songs recorded with just guitar and vocal, which I had stored up - maybe for a rainy day!"

From his hospital bed, Lightfoot directed the production of the 2004 independent release "Harmony," which was based on those demo recordings. Critics have hailed the album as one of his best.

"It was a great thing to have because it took my mind right off my condition. I've been a very, very lucky guy in so many ways," he said.

Skill has a big part in Lightfoot's career, too. With 20 albums and more than 200 songs, he's been mentioned as a favorite songwriter of Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash and Jimmy Buffett, and his tunes have been covered by dozens of other musicians. He's been nominated for five Grammys and won 16 Juno Awards (the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys).

In addition to his introspective musings on life and relationships, he's also written a host of songs about Canadian history - and for that, he was named to the prestigious Order of Canada, the country's highest honor. He even had his own Canadian postage stamp in a 2007 series that also included Joni Mitchell, Anne Murray and Paul Anka. Not bad for a kid who started out as a choirboy in his native Orillia, Ontario, and didn't release his first solo album until he was 27.

Because he's currently without a recording contract, Lightfoot said he doesn't feel the pressure to produce songs anymore - a sense that reflects the ebb and flow of his inspiration throughout the last two decades of his career.

"Nowadays, the events are so gigantic all around us that I really wouldn't want to meddle around by writing songs about that. Some of the things that are going on - I wouldn't be writing protest songs as we did around the early '70s," he said. "I've been through the emotional roller-coaster so many times that I don't really relate to that side. So I'm just concentrating on doing great shows."

But with so much material to choose from, how does Lightfoot choose what to perform? He promised that "all the key songs are always in the show" - in other words, many of those hits that still get radio play today - but also said he and his top-notch band like to rotate songs in and out to keep things fresh.

"If I had to do exactly the same show every night, I don't believe I would enjoy the work nearly as much, and I don't think the people would, either," he said.
Additional Facts
If you Go

* Who: Gordon Lightfoot

* When: 8 p.m. Saturday

* Where: The Forum, 236 Washington St., Binghamton

* Tickets: $52.50, $42.50, $32.50; available at the Forum box office, or by calling (607) 778-1369.

* More information:;
"I'll see you all next Saturday..."
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Old 07-23-2009, 03:57 PM   #2
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Default Re: Canadian troubadour Gordon Lightfoot finds inspiration in his fans

Great article! Thanks for posting it!
Portland OR USA

- if you meet him you will be/ the victim of his minstrelsy/ he'll sing for you a song

"You could wrap me around your finger"
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Old 07-25-2009, 10:54 PM   #3
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Default Re: Canadian troubadour Gordon Lightfoot finds inspiration in his fans

Well, that was a great article to read. And even better, he's who puts a smile on my face every morning, as I keep a personal CD player in my pocket & my earphones on my ears. And I still kick back & unwind of an afternoon while listening to him.
Talk to me, run to me, whisper my name
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Old 07-26-2009, 01:00 AM   #4
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Default Re: Canadian troubadour Gordon Lightfoot finds inspiration in his fans

interesting article. what a guy that Gord is.
goin to a Gord concert!
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