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charlene 05-05-2020 08:23 PM

Re: HOT DOCS-Lightfoot doc.-interviews/photos/articles-Apr-2019-AND TV viewing info
Streaming on-demand this summer is If You Could Read My Mind, a documentary about prolific Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot, directed by Martha Kehoe and Joan Tosoni.

FOR CANADIAN fans - CBC GEM Online streaming available now. (Not viewable for out of country fans)

FOR U.S. fans: THIS SUMMER- INFO on dates and venues yet to come: Greenwich Entertainment Reveals Official Trailer For ‘Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind’ WATCH VIDEO TRAILER at link:


Geddy Lee, Sarah McLachlan and Alec Baldwin Appear in Gordon Lightfoot Documentary
If You Could Read My Mind arrives this summer

Rush’s Geddy Lee, Sarah McLachlan and Alec Baldwin appear in If You Could Read My Mind, a documentary on Gordon Lightfoot, streaming on-demand this summer.
Directed by Martha Kehoe and Joan Tosoni, the film chronicles present-day Lightfoot performing a show and signing autographs as he fondly looks back on his nearly six-decade career — from his coffeehouse performance days in Ontario, Canada, to his rise to international fame in the Seventies.

“He is one of the greatest examples of timeless singer-songwriter,” Lee says in the clip, sitting alongside his bandmate Alex Lifeson. “He’s a Canadian national hero, but he also speaks with a voice for everyone,” adds Bad Religion’s Greg Graffin.

Lightfoot also breaks down the making of his 1966 song “Early Morning Rain.” “I knew that I had to sit down and do the work,” he tells the camera. “That turned out to be one of my biggest, most important tunes.”

Photos from the Seventies — including Lightfoot with Bob Dylan — are interspersed throughout the trailer, with a vintage clip of Lightfoot joking to a talk show host that alcohol helps maintain his prolific career.

“There was a beauty in what he was writing about, but there was a lot of internal pain that none of us would know about,” Lenny Waronker, a long-time record producer and former head of Reprise Records, says. “And it makes you love him, because you just have to listen to his lyrics, and then you get it.”

charlene 05-15-2020 08:33 PM

Re: HOT DOCS-Lightfoot doc.-interviews/photos/articles-Apr-2019-AND TV viewing info
PLEASE read this whole post:EDIT: “not available in u.s.” DOCUMENTARY NEWS - it seems you can pre-order the IF YOU COULD READ MY MIND doc at APPLE iTUNES.
It is also at GOOGLE Play to be added to a WISHLIST if you have an account.
BOTH links are below:
I do not know if this is related to the GREENWICH ENTERTAINMENT news that the DOC will be streaming in the U.S. this summer. (already on CBC GEM for Canadian viewers)
****I do NOT know more than these TWO links and info at them. I will find out and post more info asap.****

imported_Ordinary_Man 05-16-2020 12:41 PM

Re: HOT DOCS-Lightfoot doc.-interviews/photos/articles-Apr-2019-AND TV viewing info
Thanks for the info Char. I watched the trailer and I'm VERY interested in seeing this but I keep bouncing back and forth between the Canadian and USA Apple sites with no joy. And I added it to my google wishlist too.

I would guess (certainly hope) that with the size of the USA market that it will be available to us soon.

charlene 06-18-2020 07:59 PM

Re: HOT DOCS-Lightfoot doc.-interviews/photos/articles-Apr-2019-AND TV viewing info
Pre-order your DVD now for the IF YOU COULD READ MY MIND documentary from AMAZON.COM - release date is August 25, 2020: (at the U.S. site there is an option for GLOBAL shipping)

More info regarding Amazon.ca and Amazon U.K. to come:


imported_Next_Saturday 06-19-2020 12:06 PM

Re: HOT DOCS-Lightfoot doc.-interviews/photos/articles-Apr-2019-AND TV viewing info
Hoping for free viewing for Amazon Prime members...

charlene 07-28-2020 08:06 PM

Re: HOT DOCS-Lightfoot doc.-interviews/photos/articles-Apr-2019-AND TV viewing info
It will not be on AMAZON to view: VIRTUAL AND IN THEATRE INFO AT THESE LINKS. SEARCH for your area and info.




charlene 07-28-2020 08:13 PM

Re: HOT DOCS-Lightfoot doc.-interviews/photos/articles-Apr-2019-AND TV viewing info

Poetry, parties and painful 'Sundown': 5 takeaways from Gordon Lightfoot doc 'If You Could Read My Mind'
Bryan Alexander

A national treasure in his native Canada, singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot's recognition with a new generation of American music fans could be summed with his repeated name drop in Netflix's "13 Reasons Why" as an ironic text message code word for the high school kids.

They too come to respect the honey-voiced singer of folk-pop classics like "If You Could Read My Mind," "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," "Sundown" and "Carefree Highway." The five-time Grammy-nominated song poet gets his film due with the documentary "Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind."

Here are five major takeaways from Martha Kehoe and Joan Tosoni-directed film, opening in virtual cinema and theaters Wednesday.

"If You Could Read My Mind" charts Lightfoot's early days as an angel-voiced choir boy in small-town Orillia, Ontario, before he headed to the big city Toronto to find his singing fortunes. Lightfoot quit his banking job for his first professional gig with The Singin’ Swingin’ Eight on the Canadian TV show "Country Hoedown," which required a nightly square dance.

"I got myself a payday that lasted 2˝ years," Lightfoot tells USA TODAY, giving himself high marks for the background vocals. "but I was not a dancer."

Elvis Presley made it 'Rain,' but Frank Sinatra could not

Directors Martha Kehoe and Joan Tosoni delve into Gordon Lightfoot's world in the documentary "If You Could Read My Mind."

Contemporary and friend Bob Dylan, who presented Lightfoot with his career Canadian Juno Award, summed up Lightfoot's obsessively crafted songs, saying that when he heard one, he wanted "it to last forever." Dylan has covered many Lightfoot songs, including "Early Morning Rain." The love ballad "If You Could Read My Mind" was covered by disparate voices including Viola Wills, Johnny Cash, Barbra Streisand, Olivia Newton-John, Neil Young and Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass (to name a few).

The young Lightfoot almost crashed his car in joy when he heard Elvis Presley's cover of "Early Morning Rain."

"I wasn't even aware he had done the song," Lightfoot says. One legend who didn't perform a Lightfoot song: Frank Sinatra – who threw down the song sheets for "If You Could Read My Mind" in the studio, saying, "I can't sing this."

"I always thought that was very funny," Lightfoot says.

The drinking and partying became an issue

A gregarious host, Lightfoot's house parties were legendary, with Joni Mitchell and Dylan pulling out their guitars for late night jam sessions. But as his global fame took off, Lightfoot's drinking spun out of control. By the time he appeared in his first movie with Bruce Dern, 1982's "Harry Tracy, Desperado," it had gone too far.

"I was at the height of my drinking and I look terrible," Lightfoot says in the documentary. He was warned by his record company to give it up.

"It was time to pack it in." he says in the documentary about that time in his life. "I don't know how I made it through."

Lightfoot quit cold turkey and threw his energy into pursuits such as canoeing and sailing the Great Lakes.

Lightfoot had a complicated romantic life

The three-times-married Lightfoot has evolved to the point that he can't listen to 1967's "For Lovin' Me," an early hit with dismissive lyrics.

"It was an embarrassment to my wife at the time," he says now of first wife, Brita Olaisson (they divorced in 1973).

At the peak of his fame, Lightfoot had an infamously mercurial affair with singer Cathy Smith, who heavily influenced his moody hit "Sundown," filled with suspicion and infidelity.

"It was one of those relationships where a feeling of danger comes in," Lightfoot says in the documentary. Years later, Smith spent 15 months in prison after injecting John Belushi with a powerful mixture of cocaine and heroin that killed the comedian in 1982.

Smith is featured in archival footage speaking coldly about Lightfoot: "I took off the edges what I could use, and left behind the rest, and he couldn't hurt me," she said.

Lightfoot nailed 'Edmund Fitzgerald' in one take and keeps rolling

"What a run it was. I'm happy for every moment in the 80 years I've been here. I appreciate having been alive," Lightfoot, now 81, says in the documentary.
The singer was immediately inspired by the tragic Edmund Fitzgerald, the heavily laden ship that sank in a Lake Superior hurricane in November 1975. In the studio weeks later, he started playing "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" with his band and recorded a raw version in the first take. The ballad went on to be a major hit a year after the disaster and an enduring tribute to the 29 dead crew members.

Lightfoot, 81, has endured and will continue to perform with his band when the pandemic allows.

"I notice I'm slowing down," he says. "But we've got lots of toe-tappers in our show, and I've got a really great orchestra and we love to play. Because we're good at it."

charlene 07-30-2020 01:31 PM

Re: HOT DOCS-Lightfoot doc.-interviews/photos/articles-Apr-2019-AND TV viewing info

New Documentary “Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind” Tells The Full Story Of The Songwriting Legend
Robert Dye
July 29, 2020

The long, storied journey of the great singer/songwriter Gordon Lightfoot receives the big screen treatment in the documentary Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind, which opens today via Virtual Cinema. The film, directed by Martha Kehoe and Joan Tosoni, received Lightfoot’s full participation and features exclusive interviews with the legend, weaving his story within the framework of the ‘60s folk movement as one of its leaders, into his status as a ‘70s acoustic rock god.

Fans can purchase tickets to watch the film virtually here: https://watch.eventive.org/gordonlightfoot/

With undeniable classics including “If You Could Read My Mind,” “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” (read our Behind The Song here), “Sundown” and “Early Morning Rain,” Lightfoot is in the pantheon of revered songwriters of our time. The beloved Canadian icon has sold over 10 million albums, received 5 Grammy nominations and, at the age of 81, plans to resume touring once the pandemic subsides.

Bob Dylan once said, “every time I hear a song of his I wish it would last forever.” In the documentary, fellow Canadian musician Geddy Lee of Rush states “he is one of the greatest examples of a timeless singer/songwriters.”

According to the press release, the documentary, produced by Insight Productions, “takes audiences from high school auditoriums in straight-laced, small town Ontario in the ‘50s to the coffee houses of Toronto’s Yorkville and NYC’s Greenwich Village in the ’60s, through Gordon’s turbulent, substance-fueled arena shows of the ’70s, and finally to the artist – older, wiser – in present day. Interwoven throughout the film are Interviews with multiple generations of Lightfoot fans, in and outside the music industry – from Steve Earle and Sarah McLachlan, to Alec Baldwin and Geddy Lee – as well as behind the scenes stories from members of his longtime band.”

Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind, a CBC Docs and documentary Channel Original, is presented by Greenwich Entertainment and Insight Productions in association with Canada Media Fund, Slaight Communications, Telefilm Canada and the Rogers Group of Funds through the Theatrical Documentary Program and with the participation of the Canada Media Fund, the Rogers Cable Network Fund and the Rogers Documentary Fund. The film’s TVOD release date is set for August 21st.


charlene 07-30-2020 05:26 PM

Re: HOT DOCS-Lightfoot doc.-interviews/photos/articles-Apr-2019-AND TV viewing info

‘Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind’ Review: A Troubadour Looks Back

The singer-songwriter, now 81, is frank about his own work and refreshingly open to today’s music.

If you haven’t laid eyes on the singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot in a while, you may be stunned at the beginning of this straightforward, engaging documentary about his life and work, directed by Martha Kehoe and Joan Tosoni. Now 81 years old, Lightfoot doesn’t resemble the curly-haired, oft-mustachioed, outdoorsy-looking troubadour of his 1970s heyday. Skinny, his clean-shaven face now long and almost gaunt, his hair straight and combed back, he looks like an aged underground rocker.

Lightfoot was anything but underground. A prodigious songwriter and distinctive singer, the Canadian’s 1960s work made hits for other acts, and in the ’70s, he and his moody ballads rode high on the pop charts.

The critic Robert Christgau once called him “a weird new kind of purist: uncompromising proponent of commercial folk music.” Early in the movie, a montage of artists as disparate as the British rocker Paul Weller and Lightfoot’s Canadian contemporary Neil Young singing the great “Early Morning Rain” demonstrates the durability of Lightfoot’s work.

Lightfoot is frank about sizing up that work — the movie opens with him expressing disdain for the sexism of his early hit “For Lovin’ Me” — and he’s refreshingly up-to-date in his perspectives about today’s music. Driving around Toronto, he sees a billboard of the hip-hop artist Drake and starts enthusiastically praising his countryman. He also speaks candidly about his relationship with Cathy Smith, a singer who was, years later, imprisoned for her involvement in the death of John Belushi.

Much of the remainder of the movie features musicians and performers, some Canadian, some not (Alec Baldwin got in here somehow) praising Lightfoot — his voice, his work ethic, his facility (he knows musical notation and writes his own lead sheets).

Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind

Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 31 minutes. Information on viewing is at www.gordonlightfootmovie.com.

paskatefan 07-31-2020 05:40 AM

Re: HOT DOCS-Lightfoot doc.-interviews/photos/articles-Apr-2019-AND TV viewing info
Thanks for the article link, Char. We can't wait to order the DVD later in August!


charlene 08-01-2020 04:41 PM

Re: HOT DOCS-Lightfoot doc.-interviews/photos/articles-Apr-2019-AND TV viewing info
NEW - (previous was a bad translation/ripoff) https://variety.com/2020/film/review...XuK5QRatPVEsas

‘Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind’: Film Review
The Canadian folk-pop legend is well-served by a documentary that understands his melancholy mastery.

By Owen Gleiberman
In the opening scene of “Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind,” a companionable and highly entertaining documentary about the folk-pop troubadour of Canada, Lightfoot, now 81, sits at home with his wife, Kim, and watches clips of himself on Canadian television singing the 1965 song “For Lovin’ Me,” an ode to the arrogant adulterer he once was. Back when he wrote the song, Lightfoot was married, with a couple of kids. “At the time,” he recalls, “it just came out of my brain. I didn’t know what chauvinism was.” He chuckles, sheepishly, at his insensitivity. Yet looking at the clips, we see the brashness that made Lightfoot a star. In those early days, he resembled Ryan O’Neal with a hint of Nick Nolte; he had the kind of squinty rugged golden-god looks you’d see on the hero of a television Western. And even then, what he could do with a note was extraordinary. It would ring out, soft and shimmering but clear as a bell, with that quickened vibrato that could melt you.

Some pop songs are inescapably happy, like “Give It Up” by KC and the Sunshine Band or “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, and some are sad, like “Eleanor Rigby” or Elton John’s “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word.” But then there’s the kind of song that’s happy and sad at the same time, like a gorgeous splash of late-afternoon sun glinting through the rain. That’s the sound of Gordon Lightfoot. In the ’60s and ’70s, the words and melodies poured out of him, and they often expressed an indelible melancholy, yet there was a rapture to it all, a feeling that Lightfoot was transported by the things he was singing about. His most famous lyric (addressed to the woman he was married to when he wrote “For Lovin’ Me”) was, “If you could read my mind, love,/What a tale my thoughts could tell…” And listening to Lightfoot’s songs, you just about could read his mind. He wrote with the sincerity of Dylan (who he was friends with), in a style that merged folk and country and pop, but the liquid-gold lilt of his voice turned every ballad into a confession.

In “Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind,” Lightfoot looks like a different person than the wavy-haired preppie cowboy he was in his heyday. He now has a been-around-the-block Chet Baker gauntness, with long hair combed straight back and falling down over his shoulders and features that are aged but sharp and lean, giving him the slithery look of a rock ‘n’ roll wizard. He’s a survivor of excess — battles with the bottle, three marriages, plus two other relationships in which he had children (he has six kids in all). Yet he was the kind of obsessive songwriter who turned that trauma into incandescence.

We hear testimonials, from people like Sarah McLachlan and Steve Earle, about his immaculate quality as a musician: the way his 12-string guitar was always perfectly tuned for that impeccable ringing sound (he was such a powerful and propulsive guitarist that for a long time he didn’t need drums), the way he wrote his songs out on music paper, notating the melodies like cantatas, and the way the tunes themselves were built like intricate pieces of cabinetry. From the start, his songs were covered by a dazzling array of artists, and we see versions of the heartbreakingly beautiful 1966 ballad “Early Morning Rain” sung by Peter, Paul and Mary, Ian and Sylvia, Judy Collins, and Elvis in his white suit. (The film then jumps decades ahead to versions by Paul Weller and Neil Young.)

We also hear about what a revolutionary figure Lightfoot was in his native Canada — which sounds quaint and a little dull, but isn’t, because what he did, in effect, was to invent pop stardom for a country that was seeking its identity. In 1967, Canada celebrated 100 years of existence, and amid the centennial its citizens were asking themselves, “Okay, we’re here. But who are we?” That’s a question that popular culture was put on earth to address, and Lightfoot arrived at the perfect moment to answer it. In the documentary, Geddy Lee, the lead singer of Rush, says, “He sent the message to the world that we’re not just a bunch of lumberjacks and hockey players up here. We’re capable of sensitivity and poetry.”

Lightfoot’s rise to stardom channeled the excitement of the era. There are marvelous clips of him performing in the coffee houses of Yorkville (which was then the bohemian district of Toronto), and in the folk clubs of Greenwich Village, and it didn’t take long for him to attract the attention of Bob Dylan’s manager, Albert Grossman, who signed him. He recorded his first album for Warner Bros./Reprise, “Sit Down Young Stranger,” in 1970, and the record bombed. But the song that would become its breakout smash inspired Warner Bros. to reissue the album after changing its title to “If You Could Read My Mind,” at which point it leapt onto the charts and ignited Lightfoot’s career.

“If You Could Read My Mind” has been directed, by Martha Kehoe and Joan Tosoni, in a conventional, let’s-show-the-warts-but-not-get-too-close-to-them style, but the film could still be seen as a companion piece to “David Crosby: Remember My Name” — another documentary about a fabled counterculture rocker looking back on his demons. Lightfoot’s were less dramatic, but they provided their pleasures and took their toll. A vivid section of the film sketches in his post-divorce life in a Toronto apartment complex, an experience he chronicled in the song “The Circle is Small.” His girlfriend at the time was Cathy Smith, the woman who (years later) injected John Belushi with a speedball the night he died, and Lightfoot addressed his relationship with her in the delectably ominous “Sundown,” the closest thing that he (or maybe anyone) ever wrote to a folkie film noir.

His drinking, on the other hand, had a slow-creep effect, dramatized by his appearance in the 1982 music video for “Blackberry Wine,” where he looks as depressed as he is bloated. But Lightfoot ultimately got sober, taking canoe trips to the Canadian wilds as his refuge, and the film tries for something poetic by saving “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” for its last chapter, as if that majestic sea shanty about the mysterious and tragic sinking of a bulk carrier on Lake Superior expressed Lightfoot’s own propensity to hit bottom. The song was written and recorded in 1976, well before he conquered his alcoholic demons. But it’s presented as a kind of mystical deliverance, right down to the fascinating story of how on the recording that was put out, what we hear is Lightfoot’s band playing the song for the very first time; they could never again attain the transcendence of that performance. “If You Could Read My Mind” celebrates how Gordon Lightfoot turned his own wreckage into something sturdy and sublime.

charlene 08-03-2020 07:01 PM

Re: HOT DOCS-Lightfoot doc.-interviews/photos/articles-Apr-2019-AND TV viewing info
DOCUMENTARY REVIEW: https://www.onlineathens.com/enterta...ger-songwriter

By Kevin Crust, Los Angeles Times

For our neighbors to the north, the documentary “Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind” reaffirms the Canadian singer-songwriter’s position as a national treasure. U.S. audiences will be reminded of the power of an artist who was once a radio staple and regularly sold out shows at the Hollywood Bowl, the Greek Theatre and Universal Ampitheatre whenever he came to L.A.

Written and directed by Martha Kehoe and Joan Tosoni, the film is smartly structured around notable songs in the Gordon Lightfoot catalog, charting his journey from small-town, post-World War II Ontario to the coffee houses of 1960s Toronto and his chart-topping run of hits in the 1970s, as the gifted musician found success across the folk, country, rock and pop realms.

Known for his distinctive baritone and emotion-rich songs about heartbreak and betrayal (“If You Could Read My Mind,” “Sundown”), isolation (“Early Morning Rain,” “Song for a Winter’s Night”) and trains and ships (“Canadian Railroad Trilogy,” “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”), Lightfoot connected to Canada’s roots in a way that holds few analogs.

Canadian musicians, including Ronnie Hawkins, Ian and Sylvia Tyson (the former folk duo, now divorced), Anne Murray, Randy Bachman, Burton Cummings, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson of Rush, Tom Cochrane and Sarah McLachlan, attest to that connection in the documentary, along with observations from Americans Steve Earle, Greg Graffin of Bad Religion and (somewhat inexplicably) Alec Baldwin. Bandmates and Lightfoot’s contemporary, Murray McLauchlan, offer insights into his creative process, but it is the man himself who reveals the most about his work ethic and the price he paid for that devotion.

The five-time Grammy nominee and 2012 inductee into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, who studied and learned to write music at an early age, earned perhaps his strongest endorsement from the peers who have covered his songs. Attracted by the poetic lyrics and strong craftsmanship, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Peter, Paul and Mary are among the many who have recorded Lightfoot compositions.

The thrice-married Lightfoot is an affable, introspective and frank subject, acknowledging mistakes made along the way in both art and love, and the intertwined nature of the two pursuits. In the film’s opening scene, after watching a vintage television performance of the 1965 confessional “For Lovin’ Me,” he declares, “I hate that (expletive) song,” dismayed not by the quality of his writing but the revealing content about his first marriage.

Kehoe and Tosoni weave together a bounty of archival footage and photographs to visually capture Lighfoot’s performances across his almost six-decade career. Any detail lost in the documentary’s nontraditional narrative is more than made up for by the powerful emotions it churns up, particularly during a 2018 concert at Toronto’s venerable Massey Hall just before it closed for renovations (nicely established with ghostly imagery during a striking opening titles sequence).

“Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind” is a thoroughly engaging retrospective of a hard-working, hard-living performer who survived to tell the tale. Overcoming alcoholism in his 40s and a near-death experience in 2002, Lightfoot learned to embrace life, accept regret and at age 81, is ready to get back out on the road.

“Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind” is now available for streaming rental via athenscine.com.
https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...bf6e2253_o.jpgCarl Samrock photo - 1974 by char Westbrook, on Flickr

charlene 08-04-2020 08:12 PM

Re: HOT DOCS-Lightfoot doc.-interviews/photos/articles-Apr-2019-AND TV viewing info

Lead Like Gordon Lightfoot And You Will Not Only Endure But Prevail
Bruce Weinstein

If You Could Read My Mind, an absorbing, lovingly crafted new documentary about iconic singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot, presents seven leadership lessons you can’t afford to ignore. Whether or not you’re a fan—but how could you not be?—this essential film by Martha Kehoe and Joan Tosoni reveals the secrets behind Lightfoot’s sustained success.

Follow even a few of these lessons, and—to borrow a phrase from William Faulkner Nobel Prize acceptance speech—you will not only endure but prevail.

Do The Work

Gordon Lightfoot Before 1977...

How many times do you get a pitch for a so-called fast track to riches? Every week my inbox and LinkedIn messages are rife with come-ons for making millions quickly and with little effort.

Lightfoot developed a passionate following by performing constantly in the early 1960s. Still, he knew singing and playing guitar weren’t enough to build a career on. “If I’m going to earn a living doing this, I’m going to have to write some songs...I knew I had to sit down and do the work,” he says early in the documentary.

As a result of this intense focus, ”out popped ‘Early Morning Rain,’ and that turned out to be one of my biggest, most important songs.”

Lead like Lightfoot. Sit down and, as Larry the Cable Guy says, git ‘er done.

There’s No Substitute For Talent

Working hard is necessary but not sufficient for being an exceptional leader. Lightfoot wouldn’t be where he is today if he were a hack songwriter and unable to bring his songs to life in the studio and in concert. Yes, he got better as he went along, but his talent was always there, waiting to unfold.

There’s a reason Lightfoot’s song “If You Could Read My Mind” continues to be played widely and covered by artists: it’s marvelous. There’s also a reason why thousands of songs written and recorded at the same time are forgotten: they were mediocre.

Whatever your own field is, if you don’t have a talent for it, you won’t go very far. Perhaps that’s not a goal of yours to begin with.

But if you want to soar, there is no substitute for having talent. No matter where you are in your career—just starting out, well into it, or winding down—it’s never too late to switch over to something you’re better suited for.

Lead Like Lightfoot. Nurture your talent or find a different field you’re better suited for.

Be A Servant Leader

Decades after he wrote his hit songs, he still gets a kick out of playing them for fans.

When your focus is on serving people rather than yourself, you can’t help but smile, no matter how tired you might be of doing the same thing over and over. I can’t speak to working on an assembly line, of course. No amount of reflection on my customers would make me smile, I reckon.

But if you’re fortunate to be doing something you love, Lightfoot’s attitude is worth keeping in mind when the going gets tough.

Lightfoot is a servant-leader.
Robert K. Greenleaf coined the term to refer to someone who “focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong.” The servant-leader “is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…”

“It’s always about the songs,” Lightfoot says. “That’s all I think about when I’m performing—to make them as good as I can.”

Lead like Lightfoot. Find joy by focusing on service.

Come To Terms With Your Past

Early in If You Could Read My Mind, Lightfoot bemoans the lyrics he wrote for his song, “For Lovin’ Me.” Those lyrics include these lines: “So don't you shed a tear for me / Because I ain't the love you thought I'd be/ I got a hundred more like you/So don't be blue / I'll have a thousand 'fore I'm through.”

He now says bitterly, “I’ll never write another song like that for as long as I live. It was a very offensive song for a guy to write who’s married with a couple of kids.”

Who among us wouldn’t want to redo something—or a lot of things—we did years ago? It’s not possible (yet) to get into a time machine and undo them, but like Lightfoot, we can acknowledge our sins and move forward accordingly.

Lead Like Lightfoot.
Take responsibility for past mistakes and do what you can avoid repeating them.

Perfectionism Has Its Place

5 Star review

There’s a reason why albums like Sundown, Summertime Dream and Salute hold up years after they were made: there’s a baked-in excellence that makes them sound fresh every time you listen.

That excellence didn’t happen on its own. It had a taskmaster behind it. “I was in the studio around the same time when Gordon was re-recording all of his hits” for the Gord’s Gold album, says singer Anne Murray. “I heard some rumblings from some of the musicians...about how particular he was about everything and how many takes he would insist upon.”

Of course, perfectionism can be counterproductive. Captain Queeg in John Huston’s The African Queen and Ace Rothstein in Martin Scorsese’s Casino are perfectionists to a fault. They’re tyrants. But Lightfoot’s approach to recording is perfectionism at its best: a commitment to excellence that results in albums that stand the test of time.

Lead like Lightfoot.
Know when it’s important to be a perfectionist.

Address Your Drinking Problem

Psychology concept, Stop Addiction or Dependence

Lightfoot developed a drinking problem that interfered with his performances and relationships. Mo Ostin, the president of the label where Lightfoot was under contract, pulled him aside one day and said, “Gord, you better stop your drinking.” Beverly Lightfoot, Gordon’s sister and office manager, told him the same thing. He paid attention and quit.

You can see the difference it has made when you compare performances of his drinking- and post-drinking days. In videos of the former, he’s not only much heavier, but he doesn’t smile much. After he gave up drinking, he became lighter physically and spiritually. His joy in performing is visible and palpable. He looks happier.

“If you plan to face tomorrow, do it soon,” he sings in “Race Among the Ruins.” Indeed.

Lead like Lightfoot. When you’ve got a problem, there’s no shame in admitting it. Then comes the hard part: moving beyond it.

Motion’s The Potion

Giving up alcohol wasn’t the only thing that helped Lightfoot become healthy. Exercise made a huge difference too. Canoeing was difficult at first but eventually became routine. “After about four or five days of paddling, you even don’t even have think about it. You just keep doing it.”

One of the trainers at his gym told him, “Motion’s the potion.”

“I’m just about 80 years old and I’m starting to live off of that little idea,” he says with a smile. “Just don’t stop”

A nice side benefit: canoeing in the Canadian wild gave him ideas for songs that “manifested themselves later.”

Lead like Lightfoot.
Move your body regularly.

On a personal note, I’d like to thank Gordon Lightfoot for the many years of listening pleasure he has given me. His recorded songs, with their elliptical, poetic lyrics and memorable melodies and brought to life by a crackerjack band, have been a constant companion since the 1970s.

Along with millions of fans around the world, I owe Gordon Lightfoot an enormous debt of gratitude.

paskatefan 08-05-2020 06:09 AM

Re: HOT DOCS-Lightfoot doc.-interviews/photos/articles-Apr-2019-AND TV viewing info
Wow! Great article! Thanks, Char!


BendRick 08-09-2020 10:23 PM

Re: HOT DOCS-Lightfoot doc.-interviews/photos/articles-Apr-2019-AND TV viewing info
Saw this movie/documentary today in a very tiny theater. Only 3 other people there. Outstanding movie, a must see for any GL fan. I got shivers / chills many times while watching. It's everything you need to know about GL's life and career. And a blast to the past if you grew up in the 1960's-1970's.

charlene 08-21-2020 07:44 PM

Re: HOT DOCS-Lightfoot doc.-interviews/photos/articles-Apr-2019-AND TV viewing info



charlene 09-18-2020 06:09 PM

Re: HOT DOCS-Lightfoot doc.-interviews/photos/articles-Apr-2019-AND TV viewing info
IF YOU COULD READ MY MIND documentary review: https://decider.com/2020/09/18/gordo...gn=partnerfeed
‘Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind’ Is Affable Portrait Of Canada’s “Poet Laureate”

By Benjamin H. Smith @bhsmithnyc
Sep 18, 2020 at 4:30pm

I used to think of Canada as America Lite, the less problematic but ultimately less interesting version of these here not-so United States. Maybe I had it wrong. Maybe Canada is just America fully evolved, politically and emotionally, without the dysfunction, resentment, and rage. I mean, I know they’ve got their own past and their own problems, but they seem mild in comparison to the seething cauldron of “What the fuck?” we currently live in down here.

No less an authority than Geddy Lee of Rush calls singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot Canada’s “poet laureate” in Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind, the new documentary, which is currently streaming for free for Amazon Prime subscribers (also available for rent). At other points in the film he’s cast as the country’s answer to Bob Dylan. I’m not sure that I, let alone Lightfoot himself, would agree. They’re innately very different artists. Besides, Lightfoot’s music and career speaks for itself. He’s sold millions of records in the U.S and Canada and his songs have been covered by everyone from Johnny Cash to Barbara Streisand to Elvis Presley.

Now 81 years old (80 when it was filmed), If You Could Read My Mind finds Lightfoot looking back on his career with pride, gratitude and regret. It’s fascinating to see how the good looking, brawny, curly haired ’70s celebrity has transformed into a sinewy, straight haired but still pretty good looking old man. “I’ll never write another song like that as long as I live,” he says while watching an old performance of him singing the song “(That’s What You Get) For Lovin’ Me,” a hit in Waylon Jennings in 1966. He’s ashamed of the sentiment, the broken hearts and broken marriages that inspired it. After another few bars, he says with a chuckle, “OK, I hate this fucking song so let’s move on.”

If You Could Read My Mind jumps around in time, while focusing on Lightfoot’s biggest hits and career highlights. It starts with him cruising his old stomping grounds in Toronto, professing his admiration for the city’s current favorite son Drake. As a young man, he worked a straight bank job before quitting to sing in the chorus of a Canadian country music variety show. Early on, he knew his songwriter was the key to his success. He rejected an early recording contract as part of a duo with singer Terry Whalen where he’d have to split songwriting royalties. “Terry didn’t write any songs so I didn’t wait to have to give Terry 50% of every song that I wrote for the rest of my career,” he says. Good idea.

Lightfoot began playing folk clubs and coffee houses in Toronto’s Yorkville area, hobnobbing with Joni Mitchell and Richie Havens. Other artists were inspired by his songwriting, which “screamed Canada,” according to The Guess Who’s Burton Cummings. Lightfoot says he initially patterned himself on Dylan, trying to merge folk, country and pop with poetic lyrics. The admiration went both ways, with Dylan calling Lightfoot one of his favorite songwriters. The two would later become friends.

Halfway through, we hear about Lightfoot’s early life in a small town in Ontario. Not happy to just play music, he wanted to learn to read and write and compose, later studying music in Hollywood. Seeking new inspiration, he explored alternate guitar tunings and put songs together piece by piece, “First the chord progression, then the melody and then the words.” His fellow musicians and backing band speak with admiration about his abilities as a musician, one who writes his own sheet music and is a perfectionist in the recording studio.

Though Lightfoot’s personal life seems tame by Ozzy Osbourne standards, he speaks plainly about affairs and drinking problems which alternately inspired and derailed him. As his days in the Top 10 became a thing of the past, Lightfoot found solace in the bottle but gave it up in the early ’80s at the urging of his record company. He got fit and slimmed down, becoming an avid canoeist in the Canadian wilderness where he found new inspiration. In 1986, Dylan inducted him into the Candaian Music Hall of Fame.
The film ends with footage of Lightfoot performing live, his voice weaker than in its prime yet still able to muster the same nuance and melody. Like one of his perfectly crafted folk-pop songs, If You Could Read My Mind is enjoyable and interesting, even if it lacks the drama of a more troubled or complicated artist. After this past year, however, I’ve had all the drama I can stand.

Benjamin H. Smith is a New York based writer, producer and musician. Follow him on Twitter:@BHSmithNYC.

paskatefan 09-19-2020 06:20 AM

Re: HOT DOCS-Lightfoot doc.-interviews/photos/articles-Apr-2019-AND TV viewing info
^ Thanks for the latest article link, Char. We received our copy of the DVD this week, & watched it last night. Wow, it is terrific!


imported_Next_Saturday 09-22-2020 05:11 PM

Re: HOT DOCS-Lightfoot doc.-interviews/photos/articles-Apr-2019-AND TV viewing info
Very happy it is now free on Amazon Prime Video.

charlene 09-22-2020 05:31 PM

Re: HOT DOCS-Lightfoot doc.-interviews/photos/articles-Apr-2019-AND TV viewing info

Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind Directors Talk Epic and Intimate Musical Moments
Gordon Lightfoot is a national treasure in Canada and Directors Martha Kehoe and Joan Tosoni dig past the archives.
By Tony Sokol
July 16, 2020

The documentary Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind, directed by Martha Kehoe and Joan Tosoni, is an intimate look at a prolific singer-songwriter who enriches and is enriched by the history of Canada. Most of the world knows Lightfoot as the singer with the recognizable baritone who put out hits like “Sundown,” “If You Could Read My Mind,” and “Early Mornin’ Rain.” But in his native country, he is a national treasure. Before international fame, in 1967, he actually wrote and performed a piece called “The Tale of Canada” for the country’s 100th anniversary. After worldwide renown, he mined contemporary local history with the “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”

Lightfoot caught the performance bug early. He was five when he debuted his rendition of “I’m A Little Teapot” at St. Paul’s United Church Sunday School in Orillia. He would go on to study composition, do time as a singing drummer in jazz orchestras, Canadian Broadcast arranger, and session player, even recording with guitar legend Chet Atkins in Nashville in 1962 before moving into folk rock. Working for a time with the same manager as Bob Dylan, the two remained tight friends as they both played Greenwich Village clubs and the folk circuit. Lightfoot performed an acoustic set before Dylan took the stage to play electric for the first time, the documentary reminds us. They are unabashed fans of each other’s works.

Lightfoot rose up the charts with hits like “Carefree Highway,” “For Lovin’ Me,” and “Rainy Day People.” Besides Dylan, his songs were covered by Elvis Presley, Neil Young, Marty Robbins, Glen Campbell, Ann Murray, Harry Belafonte, Johnny Cash, Liza Minnelli and the Replacements. Frank Sinatra, however, passed on recording “If You Could Read My Mind” for being “too long,” according to the documentary. Lightfoot was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2012 and dropped his first full-length album in 16 years, Solo, on March 20.

Quite a few musicians and music enthusiasts are enthusiastic about Gordon Lightfoot, and the documentary lets artists like Sarah McLachlan, Geddy Lee and Gordon Alex Lifeson of Rush, and The Guess Who’s Randy Bachman explain what they learned coming up, and Ronnie Hawkins talks about the fun of it. Alec Baldwin talks to the fan side, comparing Lightfoot to more poetic singer-songwriters like Cat Stevens.

Martha Kehoe and Joan Tosoni, who co-directed Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind, spoke with Den of Geek about the epic songs and even more epic parties thrown by Canada’s favorite singer-songwriter.

Den of Geek: Is it federally mandated in Canada to be a Gordon Lightfoot fan?

Martha Kehoe: Gord is in a very singular position, and I think Murray McLachlan kind of points it out in the film when he says, “People were looking around going, ‘Where’s our music, and where’s the Canadians’ stuff?'” And then all of a sudden there it was. So it’s more just a situation that Gord was a very significant artist in Canada, and people were just fans of him from the get-go. He came along at a certain time and place, where Canadians were looking for something, and he just had the talent, and he had the charisma, and people just liked him. We were excited that there was someone that good from Canada.

Joan Tosoni: And also, he was very prolific. I mean, he was a hit-churning machine there for quite a few years.

Kehoe: Popping out records. He was very, very popular in Canada from the time of his first record, but Gord was never pleased with how those United Artists records performed, so that’s why his deal with Warner was such a big deal, and that’s when he started having the international hits. He felt like the United Artists label didn’t quite know how to promote him. He did a lot of soundtracks in those days.

Do most Canadians know Gordon Lightfoot the way Americans know, say, Bob Dylan?

Kehoe: It’s a very different relationship though. I think Bob Dylan inspires some awe. Gord inspires awe but if you see Gord downtown, people smile at him, people say, “Hey, Gord.” They feel a little closer to him, I would say, than people feel to Bob Dylan. Bob’s always been an enigma, and Gord, while being intensely private and so forth, has approachability for Canadians. Canadians feel like we know him a bit. I feel like Americans don’t feel as comfortable with Bob Dylan as Canadians would feel with Gord.

Tosoni: I agree. And Bob Dylan has maintained a kind of, how do I describe it? He’s deliberately maintained that distance.

Kehoe: He probably had to. The other thing is that Canadians, historically anyway, have been a little less intense than Americans. So even if you are a huge fan of somebody as a Canadian, you might not say hi to them if you saw them in a restaurant. I think everybody feels like Gord could be a friend of theirs, whereas you don’t necessarily feel that with Bob Dylan.

How did you approach Gordon Lightfoot about being in the documentary?

Tosoni: Well, we had been talking about it for years, but Gord felt he wasn’t ready. It was too soon for him. So when he was about 75, he said, “Okay, now it’s time. Let’s do it.” We did a preliminary shoot to make a promotion reel for funding, but it did take us five years to get the complete funding to do the film. So it was always in discussion, and we only went ahead when Gord felt he was ready.

So it wouldn’t have been made without his input?

Kehoe: Well, we didn’t even think of that. His input was a big part of it. We’ve done things about his career before, but we sought to make this a feature film. Gord’s had a lot of profiles done on him. He’s done tons of promotion, but he’d never done anything that felt like you’d really feel like you’d spent time with him. We wanted to do something that was intimate and really authentic to Gord somehow.

Tosoni: Gord has done so many interviews. But I think at this stage, he committed himself to maybe revealing more than he did in the standard interviews. He recognized the importance of a documentary that was going to be more in-depth and maybe have to reveal more of himself than he had before.

Kehoe: Although, honestly, when he first saw the film, his attitude… What did he say, Joanie? Was it jaw-boning?

Tosoni: Oh, yeah. “A little too much jaw-boning and not enough music.”

Kehoe: That was his thumbnail take on his first watching of the film.

Tosoni: We asked him when we had completed the film and before anyone had seen it, if he wanted to see it, because we were opening at the Hot Doc Film Festival in Toronto. And there was going to be a big audience of some VIPs, people in the film, et cetera. And we asked him if he wanted to see it. He said, “Nope. I’ll see it with everybody else.”

Since that time, he’s seen it with a few audiences, and he told me, “I really like the film now.” But if it had been up to him, it would have been all music and no talk.

Did the Second City skit “Gordon Lightfoot Sings Every Song Ever Written” come up in conversation?

Kehoe: We actually didn’t talk about that, but he would know all those SCTV guys, and he would’ve found that hilarious. He doesn’t mind being lampooned, especially now. I think he’s a lot less sensitive than he used to be when he was a younger man. He talks about that in the film, that as a Canadian, he always felt like he was a little bit awkward, that he had a little bit of hay in his hair compared to some of the slicker people he used to meet in the music industry. But he’s got a good sense of humor about himself.

Tosoni: Burton Cummings does a thing when he’s onstage: “Lightfoot singing “Maggie May” and Gord laughs at it. He’s okay with it.

While I was waiting for you to call, I was watching a video of Joni Mitchell jamming with Bob Dylan and Roger McGuinn at Gordon Lightfoot’s house. So I want to ask about his reputation as a terrific rock and roll party host.

Kehoe: Yeah. He had that big house in Rosedale for a long time, and it was sort of an unofficial headquarters for a group of people that hung out in Toronto. I say Gordon Lightfoot is kind of our Zelig or Forrest Gump. He’s met everyone. He’s been a part of every single scene in Canada. There’s never been a party in Canada that Gordon Lightfoot couldn’t get into, and that’s now and then. And he hosted a lot of them too.

He always had sort of an open door policy. Steve Earle told us a story about when he was in Toronto, and he’d been a fan of Gord’s. And they said, “Okay. Well, let us make a call.” And somebody just drove him to Gord’s door and let him off and said, “We’ll come and pick you up in a couple hours.” And Steve was like, “Oh, my God, what do I do now?” But they went in and played guitar for a couple hours.

Tosoni: And now whenever Steve plays in town, Gord goes and sits in the audience, this many years later.

Kehoe: Gord told us a little bit about Bob Dylan, because as we make the point in the film, Gord has been a lifelong fan of Bob Dylan and still rhapsodizes about his talent as a songwriter. Gordon’s tight with Ronnie Hawkins. So when Dylan used to come up to Toronto to rehearse with the band, Gord would’ve been in on that scene. He was on the New York scene with his manager there. He knew Joni Mitchell before she’d even had a hit song. He knew a lot of musicians, and he was a partier, and he loved to host parties. So yes, he was, and he used to have a lot of parties at the Continental Hyatt House as well in L.A.

part 2 next post.

charlene 09-22-2020 05:31 PM

Re: HOT DOCS-Lightfoot doc.-interviews/photos/articles-Apr-2019-AND TV viewing info
part 2
Dylan is also famously a fan of Gordon’s, so were you surprised that such diverse musicians from Anne Murray to Rush would sing Gordon’s praises?

Tosoni: No, it wasn’t a surprise. We were aware. And in fact, one of our disappointments making the film was that we were shooting mostly in the summer. Once we got the go-ahead in May, we had to start getting interviews, and there were several people who were willing, Joan Baez being a major one. We would’ve loved to have had Joan Baez in the film, but she just was on a huge tour, and we just couldn’t get a date where she was available to do an interview. And so, we do know that he has a lot of other performers, with diverse backgrounds, that admire him.

Kehoe: And also, I do feel for that generation of musicians, like the guys from Rush. As they say in the film, he was the first Canadian that got an international following and stayed in Canada. There’d been a few people before who had gone to the States and just disappeared into the United States entertainment world. Gord was the first one that stayed at home. So everybody like Rush and Anne Murray, they used him as an example like, “Hey, this guy has hits on the radio. He makes a lot of money touring, but he still lives in Toronto. You don’t have to go to the States to be successful as a musician.” So that’s another area where he really was kind of a role model for a lot of subsequent Canadian artists.

How did Alec Baldwin, who’s neither Canadian nor a musician, get involved?

Kehoe: We were looking for people that spoke to different aspects. And Alec had Gord on his podcast, and you could just tell from the podcast that he was a real fan. We reached out to a number of people, and Alec played a nice role for us. First of all, he’s a big star, so that’s helpful for your film, but he also is a very articulate music fan and knows a little about the industry. So he was able to speak about Gord as a fan, as someone who wasn’t Canadian, who didn’t have that historical pull. He didn’t grow up listening to his music. He was a fan because the songs that were coming on the radio, and we thought he did a rather nice job of articulating those points.
We decided early on we didn’t want to have a really didactic documentary, where we would have a narrator and it would be sort of all that. We wanted it to be very much a conversation, maintain an intimacy. Alec was able to put together a few different things we thought were important that we wanted to show the depth and the breadth of Gord’s fans.

Tosoni: And interestingly too, he said yes immediately. We contacted his people, and we got a positive response right away. It was a really great experience doing that interview with himGordon Lightfoot just released his first new album in 15 years. Did the documentary push him into this or did you happen to catch it at the right time?

Tosoni: In the early 2000s, he had an aneurysm that nearly killed him, and he had just before that written songs. He claims that he forgot about them, and he discovered them in his archives. In his home, he discovered this treasure trove of songs that he’d forgotten about. So he thought, “I’m going to put them out, because they never got put out.” And then he was going to add orchestration to them and a band and everything like that. And he decided it was better just solo, so he brought out this new solo album of songs that he wrote 20-ish years ago.

You both had experience in live television, how is that similar to filming the concert experience?

Kehoe: We did very minimal filming. Joan had already directed a live concert in Massey with him around 2011. We had that, and we felt like that [2018] concert at Massey Hall was kind of special, because Gord played multiple dates in Massey Hall, every year for many years. So fans go to see him and there’s a very unique kind of mood that’s quite noticeable. It’s a give-and-take between the audience and Gord. People go there with their children, so the kids have the experience. It’s just a very special thing to be a part of. And Massey Hall is very closely associated with Gord. It was closing for renovations, and they had asked Gord to finish it out.
It’s sort of his second home, and we wanted to cover the experience of him being backstage and the vibe around him being at Massey Hall, so that’s how that was decided. But we didn’t do it with multi-camera and stuff like that, like we would do if we were doing a TV show. We were shooting single camera just to get a few important moments.

Tosoni: Yes, but many of the clips that you see in the film I directed or they were from programs that we had done in the past.

Did anything come out during the filming? Any of the topics surprise you? I was surprised by the Cathy Smith story, the John Belushi connection.

Kehoe: Well, we knew about that, because that was rather famous, and a rather infamous scandal. Again, when anything like that happens from somebody from Toronto, everyone knows about it. So we knew about that, and we’d been interested a long time in his relationship with Cathy Evelyn Smith. And so, we kind of knew that, and we knew it was something people might have forgotten. You wanted to have some exciting “Wow” moments in the film, so that certainly provided one. We found that little clip of her being interviewed, and that was quite an interesting clip, we thought.

I even saw a picture of him with Willie Nelson. Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan made a lot of duets. Why do you think Gordon wasn’t a celebrity collaborator?

Kehoe: I think Gord is just really a private type of guy, and he is quite a perfectionist, and then I think it makes him a little bit nervous performing with other people of a certain magnitude. I think that he likes to control his own sound a lot, and I think he would play with anybody informally and off-camera, anyone, because we know he does, and he has. But on-camera, he likes to be really in control of his own sound and his own performance. I don’t know, that’s just a guess.

Tosoni: Yeah, I agree, and not only on-camera, but in the studio. I think that it was indicated in the film, he was very controlling in the studio. He had control. He’s in charge. And as soon as you’re collaborating with somebody, you lose that control, and maybe he wasn’t comfortable with that.

Kehoe: That’s full-on speculation.

Lightfoot worked with the same musicians for years. You said he was sort of controlling, but do they function as a band? Do they input into arrangements, or were they just backing musicians?

Kehoe: I think they do have input into arrangements. I think it’s a little bit of a combination. A lot of artists use studio musicians and then put a band together to tour. Whereas Gord played with those guys for many years. He’s been with Rick for 50 years, and I feel like there is just a very known quantity. But when they talked about “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” they would’ve had some idea of what they were doing. But they all played along, and they used the first take as the song.

Tosoni: Gord also does arrangements, but I think he is open to input from his band, and particularly those he’s been with the longest. For example, he had Pee Wee Charles in his band for a few years, and I think Pee Wee had a certain freedom in the arrangements because of the instrument and because it was something new. I don’t know if that’s really true, but I think he’s collaborative. But again, Gord has a lot of control and hears everything in his mind, and he’s also a music writer, because he can write the score.

What does “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” mean to the people around Lake Superior? It only happened a year before he wrote it. Is it still legend?

Tosoni: He plays it at every concert. It’s certainly a favorite. And also, he came to know the families of the men who were lost in that shipwreck. He carried very much about them and even changed a lyric, one lyric about what caused the sinking was somebody left the hatch open. They found that wasn’t true, and he changed the lyrics so that wasn’t indicated, because he came to know those people. They would come to the concerts.

Kehoe: And he would go to memorials there too, so he’s been very much in touch with all the survivors of the Edmund Fitzgerald, and it’s very much on his mind now. It was one of the only things he spoke to us about, caring how things were represented in the film. He gave us total carte blanche in the film, but he wanted to make sure that the Edmund Fitzgerald details were as he knew them to be.

part 3 next post

charlene 09-22-2020 05:31 PM

Re: HOT DOCS-Lightfoot doc.-interviews/photos/articles-Apr-2019-AND TV viewing info
He also was a boater on the Great Lakes. Did the wreck change how he approached the lake?

Kehoe: I don’t think so, because I think that if you’re a sort of a leisure sailor in Canada, you’re not sailing in November. I think November is freighters-only on the lakes, because of those things. So I think what he had more than anything was a love of the lakes, a love of the islands there, and a love of that whole area. Gord also loved industry in a way that men of his generation really did. I think he’s very interested in all sorts of blue-collar walks of life, of guys that work on ships or miners, or the railroad. He just was fascinated with every aspect of that sort of thing. When he read that story of the Edmund Fitzgerald, I think Gordon’s a guy who sees poetry in things, and he sees epic-ness in the everyday. I think that he really felt that that was such a tragedy. As he says in the movie, if they’d made another 15 kilometers, they probably would’ve been safe. And I really think that he felt it was a tragedy that it deserved more notice. He wanted to write an epic poem for this tragedy and for these sailors.

Which documentary filmmakers influenced you?

Kehoe: When I was at film school, I met the Maisel Brothers. They came and talked. And obviously, the films that they made Grey Gardens and Give Me Shelter, that’s kind of ground zero. I’ve always said that one of my favorite films of all time is Nanook of the North, which was not really a documentary, but it had certain documentary elements. Ken Burns, there’s so many great documentary makers now.
Canada has also had a long history of documentary. And the CBC, which is the national broadcaster who was our broadcaster partner on this, has a real history of documentary, so that’s something as Canadians that we just grew up with. We used to watch docs when we were kids. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say the guy who is one of our executive producers. John Brunton, who owns Insight Productions, made a film for TV in 1980 about Canadian music, and that really influenced me.

Tosoni: And me too. We didn’t really even know each other at the time, Martha and I, but we both had a bit of the same experience of seeing that program. It was a series called Heart of Gold, based on the Neil Young song, but it was on the history of rock music in Canada, basically, pop and rock. And he had a hard time. People laughed at him when he said he wanted to make this film. And when we saw it on TV, I was calling my friends and saying, “You’ve got to watch this thing. If you miss part one, there’s two more parts. Watch it.”

As fate would have it, we did the second. It’s now a trilogy. Martha and I made Country Gold together, which was a three-hour series. And then Martha made Comedy Gold, which was on Canadian comedy.

He’s been covered by many artists. What are his favorite covers of his, and what are yours covers of his songs?

Kehoe: Sarah McLachlan covered “Song for a Winter’s Night,” and that’s really lovely. While I was researching this, I heard the Harry Belafonte version of that, and that was quite nice as well. Tony Rice is a bluegrass player, and he did a whole album of Gordon covers. And honestly, they’re all quite fantastic. Glen Campbell’s done some good ones. Anne Murray, her version of “Cotton Jenny” was kind of a hit in Canada. Obviously, Neil Young’s version of “Early Morning Rain.”

Tosoni: And we can’t forget Alison Krauss’ version of “Shadows.” And also the Tragically Hip version of “Black Day in July,” which is in the film because Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip are very, very beloved in Canada. Downie died a year or two ago, and when we were making the film actually. We used one that I loved in the film and that’s the Diana Krall and Sarah McLachlan cover of “If You Could Read My Mind.” I think it’s really beautiful. Gord says he’s never heard a cover he didn’t like.

It’s a shame Sinatra tossed “If You Could Read My Mind.”

Kehoe: Well, apparently, “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” hit the ground that night, same session, as well. So he was in good company of songs that were rejected out of hand.

imported_Ordinary_Man 09-22-2020 07:32 PM

Re: HOT DOCS-Lightfoot doc.-interviews/photos/articles-Apr-2019-AND TV viewing info
"Before international fame, in 1967, he actually wrote and performed a piece called “The Tale of Canada” for the country’s 100th anniversary."

I assume, perhaps wrongly, that "The Tale of Canada" is the Canadian Railroad Trilogy. Or is there another anthem that I have neither heard nor can find?

If it IS the Trilogy, was it renamed, or did the writer either get it wrong, or just use some poetic license? Anyone know?

charlene 09-28-2020 07:55 PM

Re: HOT DOCS-Lightfoot doc.-interviews/photos/articles-Apr-2019-AND TV viewing info

Gordon Lightfoot – 4.0 Gavels 88% Rotten Tomatoes

Which is your favorite disaster song, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot or The New York Mining Disaster 1941 by The Bee Gees? The full name of the film is Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind. Now a very sprightly 81-years old, Lightfoot spans the decades, his songs recorded by Johnny Cash, Peter, Paul and Mary, Barbra Streisand, Glen Campbell, Sara McLachlan and The Grateful Dead. And unlike I Am Woman, the too-cutesy biopic of Helen Reddy, this film gives you the blood, sweat, and tears of the Canadian icon.

Writing over 200 songs, the Gordon Lightfoot documentary doesn’t skimp on the music. Do you remember Early Morning Rain, Rainy Day People, or Sundown. His “mercurial relationship” with Cathy Smith leads to the “spaghetti western feel” of Sundown. Was she stepping out on him? Maybe you will be interested in the mutual admiration society between Lightfoot and Bob Dylan. Said to help define the folk-pop sound of the 60’s and 70’s, I give Gordon Lightfoot 4.0 Gavels and it receives an 88% Rotten Tomatoes rating with a 7.7/10 IMDb score.


Lightfoot grew up in the small town of Orillia, Ontario. As with many musical talents, his journey to stardom begins singing “boy soprano” in St. Paul’s Church. Later, in a barbershop quartet and a local dance band, Gordon announces to his surprised, but supportive, parents that he will attend Westlake College of Music in Los Angeles. After 18 months working in a bank, and on the verge of a promotion, he quits to join Country Hoedown. His boss asks “you are quitting to become a square dancer?” Shortly thereafter, Gordon recognizes that he must buckle down and write songs.


No actors here, much of the film reminisces with Gordon Lightfoot on his blessings, his regrets, his successes, and his ability to overcome alcoholism. One gets the standard stock footage of Lightfoot throughout his career and commentary from those who knew him best. He admits to being a bit of a “prima donna.” Anne Murray has a nice anecdote of their first “meeting.”

EXCLUSIVE | Gordon Lightfoot's artistry is complete, say creators Martha Kehoe, Joan Tosoni before docu release | MEAWW
Final Thoughts

Not only is Gordon Lightfoot sometimes described as Canada’s greatest songwriter, he gets the title of their poet laureate. Lightfoot loved to party, but friends say he loved to drink even more. Those closest say he needed it to handle the spotlight. “Elemental and raw and magic” describe his music. It is the depths of his emotions that come through on If You Could Read My Mind, Sundown, and the haunting Edmund Fitzgerald.

“If You Could Read My Mind celebrates how Gordon Lightfoot turned his own wreckage into something sublime,” notes Variety. Or, as Reeling Reviews says, “pretty darn good stuff for a fan like me.”

Not everyone likes documentaries as not everyone likes classic oldies. Still, history will note that Gordon Lightfoot is a legend of the music industry, not only in Canada, but of the world.

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