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Old 06-08-2012, 05:07 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 15,639
Default Montreal article

and news about SHOF -
MONTREAL - The last time Gordon Lightfoot performed in Montreal – two years ago at Salle Wilfrid Pelletier of Place des Arts – he felt compelled to explain his presence to the audience.

“Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” he said, referencing the famed Mark Twain utterance.

Two months before his Montreal gig, Lightfoot had been on the road, driving from his dentist to his Toronto office, when he heard his classic If You Could Read My Mind on the radio. Following the tune, he heard his obituary being read by Charles Adler. “I happened to be passing a cemetery at the time when I heard this,” Lightfoot recalls in a telephone interview.

He had to pinch himself first, just in case. Then he put his foot on the gas, got to his office, called the radio station and served up the Twain quote. “It scared the bejesus out of me. I had to call my kids right away to let them know I was still kicking.”

This all emanated from a rumour. What may have made the report somewhat credible is that Lightfoot had battled his share of illnesses over the preceding decade. He had overcome everything from an abdominal aortic aneurysm to a six-week coma to a tracheotomy to numerous delicate surgeries.

This all may explain Lightfoot’s zest for hitting the road now. At 73, he is touring and performing with a vengeance, doing about 70 shows a year. His latest cross-country tour brings him back to Salle Wilfrid Pelletier on June 17 – when, hopefully, he won’t feel obliged to explain his vertical state.

“I just have a very intense desire to perform these days,” he says. “I have a very enthusiastic backup group and we always stay prepared. We live in two worlds – our family and music worlds.”

Regardless, the music world can be hostile, often turning on and eating its own. “It’s a rough business,” he allows. “I try to stay focused, to stay in shape. I just don’t want to stop. And it’s a good thing that I’ve got the older crowds now, who are only about 10 or 15 years behind me.”

Not entirely true. At the Salle Wilfrid Pelletier concert two years ago, all age groups were represented, including a number of appreciative students and young musicians.

“My goal is to be the musical equivalent of the Ringling Brothers Circus: entertainment for all ages,” he cracks.

Self-effacing though he may be, the man is no clown. Few can deny the impact Lightfoot has had in shaping the folk-pop scene, here and internationally. He is considered the greatest Canadian songwriter by many in the trade. Whether they be ballads of a romantic, political or historical vein, there is a depth to Lightfoot’s songs that puts him in a class all his own.

Lightfoot tunes like The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald – one of the most melodic history lessons to be released on disc – required something few contemporary songwriters have much use for: research.

“I had to buy all the newspapers and read all the accounts to try to get that one right,” he says. “It’s work, but it doesn’t always work out. I had to change a couple of the lyrics to the song when new facts had emerged. Then I did another one called the Ballad of Yarmouth Castle. But it was such a deadly sounding song about a ship on fire.”

Prior to hitting Montreal next weekend, Lightfoot will be making a pit stop in New York City on Thursday, where he will be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame alongside Bob Seger, among others.

“I felt very good about this when I first heard about it, but then I also had to ask myself what the heck this was,” says Lightfoot, who will also be performing at the induction ceremony. “I really wasn’t aware of the gravity of the situation when I first found out in January. Then I checked into it and realized it really is an important thing.”

Lightfoot has long been viewed as a national treasure in this country. He has won a pile of prizes and honours in Canada: 15 Juno awards; entry into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame; and was named a Companion of the Order of Canada. In April, he released his latest – and according to him, maybe his last – album, All Live, culled from concerts over the years at Toronto’s Massey Hall.

Still, many feel Lightfoot has never been properly recognized south of the border. His elevation to the Songwriters Hall of Fame is long overdue and well deserved.

Prior to becoming known as a singer in the early-1970s, Lightfoot had a who’s who of folk, pop and country royalty – Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Barbra Streisand, among a host of others – covering such compositions as Early Morning Rain, Steel Rail Blues and Ribbon of Darkness. The usually reticent Dylan praised Lightfoot as one of his favourite songwriters and went on record saying that when he heard one of his tunes, he “wished it would last forever.”

“I’m going to stand up and sing in front of 1,000 songwriters in New York,” Lightfoot notes. “I’m kind of nervous about it. They want me to sing If You Could Read My Mind, so I’m taking two of my musicians with me in order that we can do a nice, neat job on it.”

Seger and Lyle Lovett will be performing a few Lightfoot tunes at the ceremony as well. “I heard that the guy (fellow inductee Jim Steinman) who wrote all Meat Loaf’s hit singles will also be singing there, as well as two of the guys (inductees Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt) who wrote The Fantasticks and someone (inductee Don Schlitz) who wrote The Gambler for Kenny Rogers. I don’t know what it all means, but it will certainly be unforgettable.”

Interestingly, Lightfoot has stopped penning tunes. “The writing is just too isolating for me now. I have family. I have responsibilities. My record obligations are all completed. I’ve done all my albums. I’m no longer under contract. I’m a free agent. I’m putting all my energy into performing now, and that suits me just fine.”

Gordon Lightfoot performs Sunday, June 17 at 8 p.m. at Salle Wilfrid Pelletier of Place des Arts. Tickets cost $54.50 to $79.50. Call 514-842-2112 or visit

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Old 06-08-2012, 07:45 PM   #2
Dave, Melbourne,Australia
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Default Re: Montreal article

Wow, one of my favourites (Bob Seger) performing Lightfoot material. I hope that ends up on YouTube!
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Old 06-09-2012, 09:07 PM   #3
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Default Re: Montreal article

In my eyes he will always be greater than Dylan....always.
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Old 06-09-2012, 11:44 PM   #4
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Default Re: Montreal article

Originally Posted by GJA View Post
In my eyes he will always be greater than Dylan....always.
well DUH!

I am SO happy Dylan isn't there to give him his SHOF award this coming week. I know it would probably mean the world to Lightfoot if he was there.
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