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Old 11-25-2015, 12:05 PM   #10
charlene
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FOLK HERO GORDON LIGHTFOOT
David Livingstone | November 17th, 2015

Lightfoot last released a new CD in 2004, but he’s in no hurry to put out the kind of recording that veterans sometimes do to keep their hand in the game. He’s not interested in doing an album of duets — a shame since he would get to use what his aunts must have taught him about harmony. And he’s one of the few recording artists who has not issued a Yuletide collection, even though for almost 40 years he’s sung on Christmas Eve at Toronto’s Rosedale United Church.

Lightfoot sang in church as a boy and allows that whatever religion was instilled then lives on “to a certain degree.” As for politics, he says, “I’m not very political. I watch.”
And what he sees does not support any notion that much is changing. “I think history repeats itself. That worries me. That’s a little bit scary. I know that there are some mighty big things coming down in the next while – If you ask me, there are so many developments going on between nations — and the economy — it’s all very dicey.”

Wary of the times, Lightfoot is nothing but satisfied about the places he’s been. A veteran of some of Toronto’s loveliest and priciest residential neighbourhoods, he maintains a small-town boy’s appreciation for the city. “I love Toronto. I was happy to be able to live here early in my career.”

He comes closer to gushing when I ask him about Canada. “I think it’s the best country in the world,” he says.
“What makes it that?”
“What it is,” he answers sparely, dropping all sentimentality. “It’s a huge country. A lot of it is virgin territory. A lot of it’s cold. It’s very cold.”

And he’s been to every bit of it. For 10 years, from 1973 to 1983, major canoe expeditions in northern Canada were routine. “It was absolutely unbelievable. You had to be there to believe.” You also had to be a “little bit masochistic” to do it in the first place, to think of “20 miles a day of hard track” as fun.

Despite occasional lapses into studded denim with white boots, Lightfoot is tough and has taste. Not guarded — he doesn’t have to be. Having stuck to high musical standards throughout his career, he instils respect without insisting on it, somehow managing to convey an expectation of gentlemanly conduct from others in return for his own.

Talk of taste, of course, is the kind of potentially pretentious thing that Lightfoot likes to avoid.
“What offends your sense of taste?
“Nothing really. I just take people the way I find them. I’m not judgmental. I’m a patient person.”
“A serious person?”
“No question. I’m serious,” Lightfoot allows, adding, without needing to, “But I’ve got a sense of humour that comes out every once in a while.”
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