View Single Post
Old 06-11-2019, 09:14 PM   #2
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 15,586
Default Re: ROLLING STONE mag.June 11,2019

part two:

That night, Lightfoot stood by the side of the stage and watched as Dylan plugged in. He says he heard Dylan say to Grossman, “I’ve lost my harmonica, Albert,” even though it would be Paul Simon who put that line in a song (“A Simple Desultory Philippic [Or How I Was Robert McNamara’d into Submission]”). “I don’t think Paul Simon was anywhere in the vicinity,” he says. “But I heard it.

“And then Bob went on and I remember a few pennies and quarters up on the stage. I guess they were trying to insult him, but they did not succeed. He carried right on through.” (Lightfoot himself eventually added drums but not for a few years: “I wasn’t … controversy-inclined,” he says dryly.) Lightfoot can also be seen, briefly, in Martin Scorsese’s documentary on the Rolling Thunder Revue; when Dylan and his carousing folkie caravan played Toronto’s Maple Leaf Garden, Lightfoot joined them onstage and invited them back to his house for a party. Dylan inducted Lightfoot into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1986.

The Eighties were a rough time for Lightfoot as well as many of his peers. He stopped drinking in 1982, after his record company told him he was doing what he calls “irrational things.” He pauses. “Does that make sense? I was doing irrational things,” chewing over the phrase. “The record company was not happy with me over it. They said, ‘You gotta [give up alcohol] because it’s hurting you.’”

Lightfoot says he passed on starring in a movie based on his left-field 1976 hit “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” (about a real-life sinking of a freight boat and the loss of its entire crew) due to in part to his stubbornness (“I was doing things the way I was doing them and I wanted to keep going them that way”) but also because of his drinking. “I was not going to offer myself to them as an alcoholic,” he says. “My conscience would not allow me to do that.”
“Maybe you didn’t want to lose control,” Hasse offers, as if gently reminding her husband of his tendencies.
“They said, ‘Think of the money you’ll earn!’” Lightfoot says, brushing it off. “I said, ‘I don’t care. We’re doing fine.’ I’ve always felt that way. We’re doing good.”

The hits began to dry up during this time, and long before it became fashionable as it is now, Lightfoot became one of the first pop stars to be awarded a Vegas residency, at the MGM Grand in 1982. Although Lightfoot drew a crowd, the owner of the venue was still irked, telling him, “I loved your show, but you’re the first son of a bitch who ever walked on my stage in blue jeans!”
Lightfoot flashes a bemused smile. “I kept wearing my ‘costume.’” He smiles. “My costume. Good fun.”

Lightfoot’s current life is a bit more of an even keel. He and Hasse, a former actress and stand-in who is about 25 years his junior, married five years ago (“very much a surprise to me,” he says). The two live in Lightfoot’s multi-room home in the suburbs of Toronto. Drake is building a new house right across the street; Lightfoot jokes that he hasn’t yet been invited over to play basketball.

Lightfoot is on his fifth marriage and has several children. (In the Seventies, he was also briefly in a relationship with Cathy Smith, who was with John Belushi on the night he overdosed.) You wonder if all those relationships come rushing back when he sings songs he wrote about those situations — “If You Could Read My Mind,” for instance, is about the collapse of his first marriage in the late Sixties. He pauses, drops his head and nods. “I know what you mean,” he says. “Things are happening and somehow they find their way into the content. We’re going through life’s roller coaster and it just unconsciously finds its way into the song. It creates a good song.”

Then he stiffens up. “But do I feel sad or depressed? No.” He pauses, as if his life is suddenly playing itself out in his brain. “I didn’t mean to bring on some of the emotional trauma I’ve caused in people,” he says. “Because I have. I have. I’ve caused emotional trauma in myself and in women.”
Health issues beyond mere alcoholism have also dogged him. In the early Seventies, he dealt with a bout of Bell’s palsy that froze part of his face. (To cover it up, one side of his mug was shown in shadows on an album cover.) In 2002, an abdominal artery in his stomach burst, putting Lightfoot in a coma for six weeks, followed by further operations. He’s still embarrassed by the sacrifices others made for him. “I was ashamed at the amount of blood they went through,” he says disgustedly. “It would have been better off if I had died. I think it was 28 units.” Afterward, he rewarded himself with a glass of wine. “So that was the end of a roll,” he says sternly. “But did I become an alcoholic after one glass of wine? No.

One wonders why, at this age and with some of his previous health issues, Lightfoot puts himself through the grueling rigors of the road. “Well, we’ve all got families,” he says. “And I can still earn.”

Hasse also makes the case for the emotional investment his fans still have in Lightfoot. “Guys cry when they meet him,” she says. “They get very emotional over his songs. And the girls just flirt.” She smiles broadly.

“Yeah, they flirt!” Lightfoot retorts. “Yeah, sure.” Then he seems to dismiss it: “I’m not as much of a flirt as I used to be.”

“Thank God!” Hasse says cheerily.

“I flirted more when I drank,” Lightfoot continues. “When I stopped drinking, I stopped flirting. But really … I wouldn’t call it flirting. I’m just being polite, basically. I want to be friendly and I want them to feel relaxed. I want to make ‘em feel comfortable. I don’t like to come on like any kind of special person or anything. I just want them to see me as normal sort of a guy.”

His road manager says it’s time for the ritual of the tuning of the guitars. “Let’s go down!” Lightfoot announces heartily and stands up.

At a soundcheck, he and his four-piece backup band run through parts of different songs, with Lightfoot singing along quietly, so as not to abuse his voice. The band exits once the levels are correct, but Lightfoot remains. He sits down and hunches over his guitars one by one to begin the string-by-string tuning process. It’s slow, painstaking work, and after a half hour, only Hasse is left in the theater with him. When he’s done, he looks around, momentarily bewildered at the absence of anyone around him, until Hasse calls over to him and they retreat once more to the dressing room.

“I have to make sure they’re all in perfect tune,” Lightfoot says. “Perfect … tune.”
charlene is offline   Reply With Quote