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Old 06-06-2008, 10:43 AM   #1
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Default Williamsport PA. article -

Gordon Lightfoot to perform at CAC

That Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot is alive — much less looking more fit than most guys half his age — is a miracle.

In September 2002, prior to a concert in Orillia, Canada, he suffered severe stomach pains and had to be airlifted to McMaster Medical Center in Hamilton, Ontario.

The source of that pain — an abdominal hemorrhage — is nearly always fatal, said Lightfoot, who will perform next Thursday at the Community Arts Center in Williamsport.

“It was a case of mechanical failure akin to blowing a hose in an automobile,” he said during a recent phone interview from his home in Toronto. “As fate would have it, I did not leave the planet at that point.”

It was touch and go for a while, however.

Lightfoot was in a coma for almost two months. He was in and out of the hospital three times. It was 19 months before he could perform live and more than two years before he could tour again.

“It took a year for it to sink in that I would be able to come back,” he said.

Fortunately for Williamsport and other cities on Lightfoot’s tour schedule, Lightfoot did come back — and when he takes the stage next Thursday, fans will have an opportunity to see and hear one of the greatest singer-songwriters of the modern age.

Backing Lightfoot will be his longtime band, guitarist Terry Clements, bassist Rick Haynes, drummer Barry Keane and keyboardist Mike Heffernan.

Over the course of a career spanning more than four decades and 20 albums, Lightfoot has penned and recorded some of the era’s most recognizable songs — “If You could Read My Mind” (charting at No. 5 in 1971), “Sundown” (No. 1, 1974), “Carefree Highway” (No. 10, 1974), “Rainy Day People” (No. 26, 1975), “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” (No. 2, 1976) “The Circle is Small” (No. 33, 1978), and scores of other songs hailed by critics and fans alike for their earthy, personal lyrics and musical beauty.

Lightfoot’s songs have been covered by the likes of Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Peter, Paul and Mary, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jim Croce, Glen Campbell, Barbra Striesand and Judy Collins.

Dylan is said to have noted that when he heard a Lightfoot song, he didn’t want it to end.

The Band’s guitarist and fellow Canadian Robbie Robertson called Lightfoot his favorite Canadian songwriter and a national treasure. (The government of Canada apparently agreed, bestowing on Lightfoot the country’s highest civilian honor, companion of the Order of Canada, in 2003).

In 1976, Robertson invited Lightfoot to perfo during the Band’s farewell concert in San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom. Much to the eternal chagrin of Lightfoot fans, he declined the invitation.

The concert, which was captured in Martin Scorcese’s classic film “The Last Waltz,” featured many of Lightfoot’s countrymen and women, including Neil Young and Joni Mitchell.

“I was there as a guest with (Stones guitarist) Ron Wood and (Warner Bros. executive) Mo Ostin,” Lightfoot recalls. “Robbie asked me if I wanted to play but I didn’t have my instrument.”

Lightfoot may have missed an opportunity to be part of film and rock and roll history, however, 1976 still was was a high-water mark in his career.

That year marked the release of “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” the spooky true-life story of a doomed Great Lakes freighter that sank Nov. 10, 1975, on Lake Superior.

“(The song) was written two months later,” Lightfoot said. “We were recording right at that time so we put it down. It was on the radio the following July.”

The song, which chronicles the desperate last hours of the ship and its 29 crewmen, struck a chord with radio listeners and record buyers and went on to become one of Lightfoot’s most successful recordings.

Lightfoot said he was on a canoe trip in the Canadian wilderness and when he returned the song was on the charts, he said.

The song was based almost entirely on newspaper reports that came out in the wake of the tragedy. Lightfoot said he used artistic license only in the account of the cook.

“The part about the cook is the storyteller part,” he said. “I even borrowed a line from Woody Guthrie — ‘it’s been good to know ya.’ ”

Lightfoot said he may have borrowed the song’s hook from an Irish folk song he heard in the early 1960s. He credits his band with creating the seafaring theme that cradles his desperate lyrics.

“Terry and Pee Wee (Charles, Lightfoot’s former steel guitar player) made the sound that made the song,” he said. “When you hear it, you think about water.”

Lightfoot said “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” has become his signature song.

“It has to be. It’s true, it’s valid, it’s in chronological order. I’ve met tons of people who love the song,” he said, adding, “and we love to play it.”

Performing the song live, even after 30 years, can be an exhausting experience, he said. Lightfoot’s devotion to clean living — he quit drinking in 1982 and works out four or five times a week — allows him to reach into his reserve tank to find the energy he needs to perform the song each night, he said.

“I consider working out to be my day job and I don’t mind going to it,” he said, adding, “Sometimes I hate it, but I have to do it. It is something that has to be done.”

So what can Gordon Lightfoot fans expect from Thursday’s show?

Lightfoot said he plans to perform 25 songs. He rotates about a dozen songs — six songs each on alternating nights — while the rest, including many of his hits, stay the same.

Lightfoot said he hasn’t tired of performing. On the contrary, he loves doing concerts because it gives him a chance to get out and meet his fans, he said.

“That’s my other life. It’s wonderful,” he said. “It allows me to relax and meet the people who relate to the music.”

The show will begin at 7:30 p.m. For more information, call 1-800-432-9382 or 326-2424 or log on to the Community Arts Center Web site at Tickets are $35, $45 and $55.
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Old 06-06-2008, 02:47 PM   #2
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Default Re: Williamsport PA. article -

Originally Posted by charlene View Post
(Part of that long and interesting article)
"Lightfoot said he may have borrowed the song’s hook from an Irish folk song he heard in the early 1960s. He credits his band with creating the seafaring theme that cradles his desperate lyrics."
I don't know about anybody else but I found that to be a stunning admission hitherto I thought it was agreed that the similar sounding song "I Wish I Were Back Home in Derry" which was recorded by Christy Moore using lyrics penned by the Irish martyr Bobby Sands was a crib of Gord's TWOTEF

That's a very unimaginative and exceedingly boring "video" but nevertheless it is fascinating I had never heard that before, makes you think donnit??
this might entail the editing the Fitz wiki at:-
which currently confidently states:-
"The tune and rhyming structure were borrowed in 1984 byChristy Moore for his song, "I Wish I Were Back Home in Derry," which is itself an adaptation of Bobby Sands's poem, "The Voyage."
The song in fact seems to be about an 1803 voyage down under by Irish involuntary "immigrants"
but on:-
it doth say
"Back Home In Derry
(Traditional melody; lyrics by B Sands)"
perhaps the last words should be as stated by the aforementioned Christy Moore as pasted in as a comment on that youtube video and originally on his own web site at:-
I was playing in Derry and staying with The Barrett Family. After my gig we were gathered in Chamberlain St having a banter and drinking tea when a bit of singing broke out. A lad, just home from The Blocks, sang these verses and subsequently wrote out the words for me. At the time the name Bobby Sands was not known to the world as it is today. The following night I played in Bellaghy where the same process took place when I stayed with Scullion. Later on he "sang" McIlhatton for me and told me it had been written by Bobby Sands with whom he had shared a cell while "On the Blanket". The name was becoming known to me.
He used the air of The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald from Gordon Lightfoot, an air which I suspect has earlier origins. My version of Bobby's song is shorter than the original.
I meant no one no harm

"Sir" John Fowles Bt
(where Sir does not signify that I am a fully benighted Knight just a Bt which signifies a humble Baronet)

Last edited by johnfowles; 06-06-2008 at 02:53 PM.
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Old 06-07-2008, 03:36 PM   #3
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Default Re: Williamsport PA. article -

That's a great little article.

Always interesting to see certain things that he'll continue to do time and again like giving the credit for the sound of the song to Terry and Pee Wee. Also his description of working out - the sometimes you hate it but it has to be done. I've heard him describe writing a song that way at times. Not the hating it part, but the idea that it's work that has to get done. The kind of advice it would behoove me to take...
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