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Old 10-12-2017, 10:22 PM   #51
charlene
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http://nationalpost.com/entertainmen...ngss-biography

The reluctant Gordon Lightfoot is finally chronicled in Nicholas Jennings's biography
Gillian Turnbull: Does Lightfoot's relenting to his life immortalized in book form herald the end?
BY GILLIAN TURNBULL

LIGHTFOOT
BY NICHOLAS JENNINGS
VIKING
336 PP; $36

I’m a longtime admirer of music journalist Nicholas Jennings. It was therefore no surprise to me that he was the one to finally lock Gordon Lightfoot into the series of interviews that became the singer’s biography. Simply titled Lightfoot, the book takes its place among the current spate of biographies that are the setting sun’s final rays on boomer music. Can we finally acknowledge that the ’60s are over? Does Lightfoot’s relenting to his life immortalized in book form herald the end? After all, his career peak began 50 years ago this year, with his centennial song “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” marking a significantly different nationalist fervour than was felt at this moment of our 150th birthday.

Lightfoot arguably comes at a time when old musicians’ legacies are perpetually on our minds. In any given week over the last two years, a rocker’s death has fought for headline space against books and films documenting music by his or her (mostly his) contemporaries. No wonder: the ’60s and ’70s were something of a golden era to be a musician. You could actually make money, or develop your craft through a four-album deal, as Lightfoot did many times over. You didn’t have to fight against the noise of everyone else on Bandcamp or YouTube – or be your own publicist, booking agent and recording engineer in equal measure.

Still, it’s difficult to convince anyone under 40 that Lightfoot and his contemporaries have something to offer us now; their gentle ruminations on heartbreak in an empty Canada hardly reflect the desperation most of us feel just to survive contemporary urban life. When I play Lightfoot, Ian Tyson and the other folkies of the period to my undergraduate students, I feel like I’ve accidentally passed them a pillow and a bottle of whiskey and set them in snooze mode.

If it isn’t already obvious from this review’s opening, I expected to be bored by this book. I grew up with Lightfoot occasionally on in the house (a famous picture in our family shows my mother dancing with her date to “Beautiful” at her graduation), so I was well aware of his extraordinary songwriting and guitar-playing talent. He’s Canadian through and through, despite his push to subvert industry attempts to elevate Canadian musicians above American exports through the Can Con regulations. Too bad, he said, my music will rise to the top despite, not because, of its Canadianness. Lightfoot nevertheless remained in the country, settling for a somewhat benign existence in comparison to his rock colleagues, focusing more on songwriting and annual canoe trips than partying hard.

Or did he? In the tried-and-true formula of the Great Man Rock Biography, Jennings uncovers what we already sort of knew about Lightfoot: he was a drunk prone to fits of anger that sometimes pissed off audiences, demolished his relationships and alienated him from his children. This same aggressive self-determination forged the drive that makes up the other half of the Rock Biography: it’s okay to be a jerk if you’re producing great material. As such, the book follows the familiar trajectory of naked ambition to start, unexpected and overwhelming fame next, followed by descent into substance abuse oblivion, and finally our favourite: redemption.

I should clarify, however, that I wasn’t bored. Jennings as always is a master storyteller, and I’ve read few books faster than Lightfoot. His deft manipulation of narrative, told in clear language, draws the reader in immediately – and though he doesn’t hold back in his most negative portrayals of the singer, his voice is present without detracting from the person at the centre of the book. Jennings’s true gift might be his ability to slowly reveal Lightfoot to us – over the course of the book, the complexity of his character emerges, through a peeling away of the many layers the notoriously reticent singer has kept hidden. Ultimately, we discover that Lightfoot’s abrasiveness is contrasted by a deep sensitivity and generosity. I’ve never come close to disliking any of Jennings’s offerings, and he is undoubtedly a chief Canadian music historian.

We can also argue Lightfoot is one of our principal talents, his poetic descriptions of nature and elaborate guitar-picking style producing a body of work that in many respects outshines his counterparts. But what role does the music biography serve at this point, when the narrative is so similar that the characters are merely swapped out and all else remains unchanged? Are we merely comforting ourselves about a music industry that once actually rewarded its talent by reading these books? In Jennings’s case, it’s more than that. We are no doubt trying to better know our heroes in a personal way. And perhaps that is the best reward for Lightfoot fans who have waited for so long: Lightfoot is your chance to finally know him deeply.
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Old 10-12-2017, 11:27 PM   #52
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Default Re: LIGHTFOOT by Nicholas Jennings - Sept.2017

getting further updated and kicking myself ... had no idea Wayne Francis (!) was going ... GL web long timers will recall how he (Matt Fifer too?) brought Gord to the word wide web ( 23 year ago?? ) and we all started swapping GL thoughts and stories in that old alt.net newsgroup .... the Lightfoot.ca website was launched and it's still ticking .... i have archived favourite musical banter tidbits from he, Richard Harrison and so many others ... that compilation could be published... although less appealing to the masses... thank you Wayne, char, val, florian (who? wheeeere? lol) and all setlist, review keepers and tidbit contributors from throughout the decades... and also to those who have passed on ... was honoured to meet many.... your legends do live on ....safe travels, Wayne .... next time
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Old 10-13-2017, 08:36 PM   #53
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VIDEOS: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...cmC7kRYpbjFV_U






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Old 10-13-2017, 08:37 PM   #54
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Old 10-13-2017, 08:39 PM   #55
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Old 10-13-2017, 08:40 PM   #56
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Old 10-13-2017, 08:41 PM   #57
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Old 10-13-2017, 08:42 PM   #58
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Old 10-13-2017, 08:44 PM   #59
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Old 10-13-2017, 08:44 PM   #60
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Old 10-13-2017, 08:47 PM   #61
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Playlist of videos - http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...cmC7kRYpbjFV_U
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Old 10-14-2017, 06:34 AM   #62
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Wow! What gorgeous photos & lovely autographs, Char! What an incredible event it was!
Looking forward to watching the videos!

Gail
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Old 10-15-2017, 08:39 AM   #63
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I note in the book that "Rainbow Trout" is described as a "Clunker" I think it is a lovely song, I wish I could write one as good. Am I alone?
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Old 10-15-2017, 09:46 AM   #64
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Nasium View Post
I note in the book that "Rainbow Trout" is described as a "Clunker" I think it is a lovely song, I wish I could write one as good. Am I alone?
I laughed when I read that becasue I really like the song and everyone else seems to hate it! It's also seems to be the only song so far (I'm up to '83) that he straight out criticises.

The book really has very little focus on the music though...
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Old 10-15-2017, 12:55 PM   #65
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It's a biography of the musician..not a music book. lol..
maybe that's next on his 'list of things to do'... write a book about the music.. hmmmm.....
I may have to start making that suggestion to him....
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Old 10-15-2017, 03:46 PM   #66
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Default Re: LIGHTFOOT by Nicholas Jennings - Sept.2017

Does anyone know, when Nicholas Jennings was writing about the song "Sometimes I Don't Mind", did he have a case of misheard lyrics or did Gord change the lyrics when recording? Jennings quotes the line "When I'm thinking of you ballerina alone", which shows up in the album liner notes as "When I'm thinking of you better leave her alone". Obviously a very minor point, just curious if anyone else picked up on it or knows the story.
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Old 10-16-2017, 06:46 PM   #67
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Nicholas says (and I also heard "ballerina" in the recorded version ):lyrics here and at gordonlightfoot dot com are wrong..

Char, it's not misheard. If you listen to the recording, Gord sings in the second verse"When I'm thinking of you ballerina alone." It's there in the singing, clear as day, if not in the liner notes.
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Old 10-20-2017, 02:24 PM   #68
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https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/art...beandmail.com&
OCTOBER 20, 2017

TITLE Lightfoot AUTHOR Nicholas Jennings GENRE Biography PUBLISHER Viking Canada PAGES 315 PRICE $35

Nicholas Jennings introduces his biography of Gordon Lightfoot with a seven-page story about Bob Dylan and his Rolling Thunder Revue tour, which in late November, 1975, rolled into Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens. The scene was wild and it was mobile. A postconcert party happened at Lightfoot's Rosedale mansion, where a leather jacket was thrown into a fire, filling the house with thick black smoke.

"Bobby was a very enthusiastic partier," recalls Ramblin' Jack Elliott, a folk-music legend and raconteur, referring to Dylan. "Dylan was into drinking carrot juice at the time," adds Ronnie Hawkins, a rock-music myth-maker. Partier or carrot-juice enthusiast – who can recall? It was the seventies. Truth and leather jackets, lost in smoke.

The story continues. Lightfoot and Dylan, mutual admirers, were alone upstairs trading songs. The conversation between them was not vibrant. A lion meets a tiger. Wariness and confusion.

They were "too guarded, or maybe competitive," author Jennings suggests.

The reason for the Dylan-Lightfoot stage-setting isn't instantly apparent. Which is okay. What isn't okay is that the reason to link the two great artists never does fully present itself. Although Jennings will thread the theme throughout his book, he never does tie a knot on it. The best he comes up with is "For Lightfoot, as for Dylan, it was about the song."

That seems like a cop out – thin soup.

Lightfoot is an informative, highly readable book, but it has to be seen as a minor disappointment. In the acknowledgments, Jennings, a long-time music critic for Maclean's and the author of the essential Before the Gold Rush: Flashbacks to the Dawn of the Canadian Sound, writes of his extensive interviews over the course of a dozen years with the musician. The book jacket hails the author's "unprecedented access" to his subject. Yet the access results in not enough revelation.

The book was originally intended to be a memoir, as told to an excellent music journalist by an iconic Canadian songwriter. Such was Lightfoot's reticence, however, that a personal story became a well-researched chronicle, with some Lightfoot-told passages but also with plenty of third-party accounts, some facilitated by microfilm diggings.

The tone is respectful; the detail is great and never pedantically presented. All sorts of album-and-concert-review quotes. Lightfoot fans should rejoice and accept the fine info on their man.

The Rolling Thunder yarn spun, Jennings takes the reader back to Lake Couchiching – the idyllic, edge-of-wilderness spot near Orillia, Ont., where the boy Lightfoot fished for rock bass and searched for wild mushrooms. We get an account from Lightfoot of an incident involving ice fishing and a near drowning with his cousin. "It was such a close call," Lightfoot remembers. "I'm still amazed we survived."

To Jennings's mind, young Lightfoot's escape from peril was indicative of "the kind of dogged determination that would carry him out of Orillia and into international stardom, seeing through all the ups and downs of a large, messy, wonderful and sometimes troubled life."

With Lightfoot, we get snapshots of mid-century Canadiana. The man who would grow up to tunefully offer history lessons on shipwrecks and railways and who as an adult would sing some of the greatest brooding relationship songs ever poured out of a whisky bottle – "Pickin' up the pieces of my sweet shattered dream" – started out as performer in barbershop quartets as a schoolboy.

Apparently a cappella haircutting was all the rage. Fans paid money to see and hear the genre at great venues such as Toronto's Massey Hall. That they did so with no irony whatsoever can perhaps be attributed to a psychic-trauma hangover from the Second World War.

Lightfoot moved on from bow-tie balladry to folk music and, eventually, top-10 troubadouring. Jennings offers an invaluable if unexciting portrait of a superstar: Driven, oft-depressed, a one-time alcoholic, a lover and loser of women, a father who missed his children, a rugged outdoorsman, a hit-maker and Massey Hall filler, a man of great loyalty, a do-the-right-thing dude, a perfectionist, a performer who lives for the stage and a survivor (of a near fatal ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm in 2002 and otherwise).

I've met Lightfoot. I like him. Jennings does, too, and so will the reader (if the reader is any right kind of human – and the fact they are reading this particular newspaper is a persuasive argument that they are).

At one point, a snippet of an interview with Lightfoot in 1991 by CBC Radio's Peter Gzowski illustrates the frustrating reticence of the former. "The world is clamouring to rap with you, and you insist you don't have anything to say," Gzowski said.

"That is precisely correct," the shy Sundown singer answered.

And, so, Lightfoot, who owes us nothing but words, voice and melody, frustrates us (and probably Jennings, too). Read between the lines – that's the great songwriter's answer and our recourse.

Dylan offered us a deal: "I'll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours." It was no bargain. But he offered. Lightfoot? Not so much. If we could read his mind, we wouldn't need a contextual memoir. One that, despite Jennings's great effort, we still need.

Brad Wheeler is an arts reporter with The Globe and Mail.
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Old 10-22-2017, 11:02 PM   #69
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Default Re: LIGHTFOOT by Nicholas Jennings - Sept.2017

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Nasium View Post
I note in the book that "Rainbow Trout" is described as a "Clunker" I think it is a lovely song, I wish I could write one as good. Am I alone?
My brow did furrow when I read that paragraph in the Biography. As a U.S. Westerner, I just assumed "Rainbow Trout" was just another Canadian ditty, a sing-along song. My friends and family never disliked this song. There was a brother-in-law who hated "Cold Hands from New York" for its plodding repetition. Overall I loved reading Jenning's Lightfoot biography, it was so full of details and research. I read it in two days, couldn't put it down. That's great that Jennings mentioned the Reno, Nevada concert in 2000. I was there in front row. At the time I lived in Reno, that was such a great concert!
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Old 10-23-2017, 05:03 PM   #70
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I have just finished 'Lightfoot' and it's been strange reading about GL's life and songs. Not an easy read with all the revelations about his failed relationships. Also, the book puts some of his songs in a different place for me. When I hear them now they have a different 'slant' than previously.
I am seeing/hearing many of them with a new perspective.
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Old 10-23-2017, 06:58 PM   #71
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https://audioboom.com/posts/6420784-...-s-giles-brown
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Old 10-28-2017, 10:36 AM   #72
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http://www.nicholasjennings.com/the-...-and-lightfoot
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Old 10-31-2017, 09:40 AM   #73
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VIDEO interview; http://www.chch.com/lightfoot/
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Old 11-02-2017, 04:36 PM   #74
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https://www.washingtonpost.com/enter...=.1607f87b4ba6

If you could read Gordon Lightfoot’s mind, this is the tale his thoughts could tell
By Don McLeese
If you could read his mind, what a tale his thoughts could tell. So claimed Gordon Lightfoot in his 1970 breakout hit, the song that would launch his career as one of the most consistently satisfying singer-songwriters of the decade and would subsequently be recorded by some 300 other artists.
(Viking)
There was a lot of musical confession in those days, with James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell and so many others wearing their hearts on their lyric sleeves. Yet Lightfoot generally kept his mind to himself. A reserved Canadian, he played his emotional cards comparatively close to his vest, rarely granting interviews and rarely saying much when he did. Even in live performance, he came across as a tight-lipped stoic, the troubadour as rugged northwoodsman.

So, it’s a revelation here to find Lightfoot opening up at all. Not surprisingly, the biographer to whom he has confided is a fellow Canadian, veteran music journalist Nicholas Jennings, who enjoyed his subject’s full cooperation. Not that this is a kiss-and-tell book. But, regrets, he has a few, and Lightfoot airs them. He has paid a price for keeping his feelings to himself, for letting his career consume his private life, for drinking himself numb. It took him three marriages and assorted relationships (at least one of them borderline toxic) to give him a sense of how to be a husband and a father.
We learn that the smooth surface of his signature sound belies the turbulence that has inspired some of his most memorable material, such as the enigmatic “Sundown” (an obsessive jealousy corrodes the soul) and even “If You Could Read My Mind” (a beguiling melody that finds a marriage on the rocks). In Lightfoot’s songcraft, still waters run deep, or at least deeper than you’d expect for someone who became branded an easy-listening artist.

He first showed promise was as a schoolboy soloist in the church choir and then as a harmonizer in barbershop quartets. He served an apprenticeship on a corny TV show called “Country Hoedown,” where he became nicknamed “Gord Leadfoot” for his inability to master the choreography. His first songwriting effort was “The Hula Hoop Song” (1957).

Inauspicious beginnings, but Lightfoot was determined to make music his career. He studied theory and notation and became more interested in jazz than rock. He moved to Toronto, where he found a burgeoning folk scene. Ian & Sylvia were the leading lights, and their blend of folk and Canadian country showed Lightfoot a path forwardHe also found his manager through the duo, the notorious Albert Grossman, whose top clients were Bob Dylan and Peter, Paul and Mary, all of whom would record Lightfoot material. He found success as a songwriter through early efforts such as “Early Morning Rain,” but it took much longer for him to establish himself as a recording artist, particularly in the United States.

As Jennings points out, Lightfoot’s breakthrough was something of a fluke. He had signed with a new label to release his fifth album, initially titled “Sit Down Young Stranger.” Despite his reputation as a songwriter, the first single from the album was the only song he didn’t write, an early cover of Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee.” On the flip side was “If You Could Read My Mind,” a track that Reprise Records hadn’t considered very commercial.

“It’s a highly sophisticated, beautiful song, but it didn’t have a conventional structure, so I assumed radio wasn’t going to accept it,” the label’s Lenny Waronker told the author. But one DJ played the flip side, and then everyone did. The album was reissued with the hit as its title, and radio subsequently accepted pretty much everything Lightfoot released through the ’70s, including “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” an even less likely popular favorite. Lightfoot wasn’t an artist who followed formulas or trends; he was a significant artist with a singular sound.

He was also an increasingly troubled man, very conflicted, not comfortable with the glare of the spotlight in a hype-riddled industry. He had trouble with women — not attracting them, but sustaining a fulfilling relationship. And it’s a weakness of the book that we never hear from any of these women — the wives, the girlfriends. This is very much Gord’s story, his version. The more successful he became, the harder he worked, the more he drank, the less he stayed home, the more vicious the circle became.

Inevitably, the hits stopped coming, the marriages and relationships fell apart, and his voice, his health and his performances all suffered.

But there’s a happy ending of sorts, because he sobered up, married happily and survived a couple of serious hospitalizations. He has channeled his obsessiveness into exercise and performing, transforming himself from has-been into something of a mythic icon, certainly in Canada.

How great is he, or was he? Not as great as Dylan, the biography suggests, but the two are mutual admirers who understand each other better than most.

“They’re both reclusive and eccentric, so to some degree they’re kindred spirits,” says singer-songwriter Murray McLauchlan, who knows them both. “Except Gord’s life is not a fabrication. He is who he is. Bob Dylan is a complete myth.”

Don McLeese is a journalism professor at the University of Iowa and a veteran critic of music, books and popular culture.
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Old 11-12-2017, 09:46 PM   #75
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