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Old 03-18-2009, 01:37 PM   #1
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Default Gordon Lightfoot embraces famous song as he returns to the Great Lakes region

Gordon Lightfoot embraces famous song as he returns to the Great Lakes region

By Warren Gerds
Gannett Wisconsin Media

Performers often say they're looking forward to coming to our town or whatever town but with folksinger Gordon Lightfoot, it's not just a throwaway sentiment.

"I'll be thinking of the fact that the Edmund Fitzgerald was launched in Milwaukee in 1958," he said of the ill-fated ship that's a legend because of his 1976 song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." "I love going around the Great Lakes area. That's where we feel at home with the song."

Lightfoot will return Tuesday to the Weidner Center in Green Bay one of 70 shows he's doing this year.

Seven years ago, the 70-year-old Lightfoot was seriously ill because of a burst artery in his midsection. It took three surgeries and 28 months before he was out of the woods.

"It's not a progressive disease like cancer, so therefore I was able to recover from it," he said from his home in Toronto.

Lightfoot, a member of the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, had his first hit with "If You Could Read My Mind" in 1970. He's also known for "Sundown," "Early Morning Rain," "Carefree Highway" and "Canadian Railroad Trilogy."

"Everything I do on stage I know is going to go over," Lightfoot said. "After a long, long while you get it boiled down to about 35 to 40 songs people really like."

That's too many for one show, so Lightfoot alternates some songs from night to night while sticking with the biggies.

"I even like to have more in the back of my mind that I would like to install into the show one of these days," he said. "It gives me something to think about, and it gives me a reason for living and pressing forward with my life in many ways, and so it does for the people who work with me."

Lightfoot says 2004's "Harmony" album, his 20th, is truly his last.

"The isolation that it causes and the withdrawal from the family obligation and connecting with other people and the way you have to lock yourself away in the studio for months on end I felt I reached a point in my life where I had to get beyond that," he said.

No matter what, Lightfoot has a legacy song that keeps alive the memory of the Fitzgerald, which sank in a storm on Lake Superior in 1975 with a loss of 29 lives.

"The song never fails to get a huge response, and it's that way all over the States and here in Canada and all over the planet for that matter," he said.

"It came from an article I read in Newsweek magazine. That got me interested in the idea, and I went back and researched newspapers for whatever I could find so it would be in chronological order."

The song was tucked into the album "Summertime Dream."

"What happened happened spontaneously," Lightfoot said. "The responsibility that went with it has been interesting, too. I've met a lot of people, and I had to be attentive and pay attention and get involved, which I have done."
Additional Facts
If you go

Who: Gordon Lightfoot
When: 8 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Weidner Center on the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay campus
Tickets: $32.50-$52.50;; 800-328-8587

Gordon Lightfoot comes to the Weidner Center in Green Bay on Tuesday.
"I'll see you all next Saturday..."
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