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Old 11-18-2006, 12:34 PM   #1
Auburn Annie
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Default Toronto Sun article-Massey Hall - Nov.2006

Gordon Lightfoot's support for our troops in Afghanistan is heartfelt, but low-key -- much like the man himself

By JOE WARMINGTON

The green camouflage wristband might not be noticeable to the audience.

But if you know what you are looking for you would not miss it on Lightfoot's right wrist. Let's just say this is the famous entertainer's way of having every Canadian soldier in Afghanistan up on that stage with him.

It's a moving gesture by the music icon and proud Canadian as he gets ready to perform again at Massey Hall tonight and tomorrow night -- the end of a four-show run that started Thursday.

"One of the soldiers gave it to me at the Red Rally and I have been wearing it ever since," Lightfoot said after the show.

And he's proud to do it -- realizing so many have been killed or wounded and are still at risk.

BATTLED BACK

Lightfoot, who himself has bravely battled back from severe health issues, came out Sept. 29 to the rally in support of Canadian troops at Dundas Square where Canadian Armed Forces personnel were so appreciative they gave him the band.

Meanwhile who says you have to be young to be hot?

Who's hotter these days than Lightfoot? It was his 68th birthday last night and yet there's no hotter ticket in town.

Scalpers were outside Massey Hall moving the much coveted ducats. Autograph seekers, and those who sell memorabilia, were waiting outside the stage door as if it was Justin Timberlake or something.

But these fans are not after the flavour of the month. There's nothing better, they say, than a mature wine that just gets better with time.

The 16-time Juno winner is so low key about it. If he were British he would be Sir Paul McCartney and if he were American he would be Bob Dylan. But he's Canadian and when he leaves a performance hall he gets into his own car and drives home.

Don't forget this guy has written songs covered by Elvis Presley, Peter, Paul & Mary, Dylan, Anne Murray, Glen Campbell, Barbra Streisand, Harry Belafonte and Nana Mouskouri for crying out loud.

He can afford a driver. He doesn't want one. The biggest legends don't realize that they are ones.

Sometimes they don't know why they are. Hit songs. Classic songs. Songs that define a generation or a time. Lightfoot has had his share of those. Not many can boast writing and recording Sundown, Early Morning Rain, The Edmund Fitzgerald, Ribbon of Darkness over Me, Alberta Bound and If You Could Read My Mind -- just to name a few.

The songs are part of what makes someone a legend.

The other part is the fans.They decide who they love and want to make legendary. They love Gordon Lightfoot.

Here's an example from the first show in this latest Massey Hall run. He was on stage for an encore when his guitar came loose from its strap.

INCREDIBLE BAND

There was kind of thud as he grabbed the guitar before it hit the stage. It's an awkward moment for a performer but kind of fitting for Lightfoot who does not rely on backing vocals, lights, smoke and dancers.

He and his incredible band is what you get and what his fans want. The guitar falling represents the raw reality of his performance that has become world renowned over 50 years. The guy is genuine. Nothing fake about him.

"Nice catch, Gordie," yells out a man from the capacity crowd.

No roadie came out, no stagehand. Gordon simply tried to put the stubborn strap back on the guitar and there was an pause of silence while he did it.

The silence didn't last long. "Happy birthday, Gordon," yelled out a fan.

There was a standing ovation and then, in unison, the whole crowd started singing Happy Birthday.

They love this guy. He's family. For his part Gordon looked out on the crowd and tried to not show emotion but you could tell it meant a lot to him. He loves them, too.

The guy is a national treasure, a member of the Order of Canada who has done this country proud for a long time.

'ALL-CANADIAN'

"He's all-Canadian that's for sure," said his manager of 25-years Barry Harvey. "He's proud of it."

We are proud, too.

True, it's just an elastic band when you get right down to it. But it means a whole lot more to those over fighting on behalf of this country. "I think of them all the time," said Lightfoot. "I am really impressed with them."

The feeling is mutual.


November 18, 2006.
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Old 11-18-2006, 08:40 PM   #2
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Great article, I noticed the wrist band at the Ottawa show and wondered what it was for. Nice to know what it was for and nice article on loyal fans
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Old 11-20-2006, 03:28 PM   #3
charlene
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This was a fabulous article.
Joe Warmington arranged the Red Rally in Toronto a few weeks ago and Lightfoot gladly and proudly showed up...
Upon first seeing the bracelet from my seat I thought perhaps it was a mix of jade pieces but closer inspection saw it to be a rubber camouflage wristband and I thought immediately of our troops.
This article confirmed it the next morning when I read it and when he did 'Sit Down Young Stranger' I thought of our troops who he honours.
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Old 11-21-2006, 08:23 AM   #4
Melody
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Thanks Annie, for posting the article. It's so true. He has worked so hard on getting better since his illness & sounded great! I too thought of the Troops when he sang "Sit Down Young Stranger" Charlene, made my eyes water...
Take Care,
Ingrid
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