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Old 11-18-2016, 07:29 PM   #5
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 15,595
Default Re: plans of his own - INTERVIEW-part 1and 2


Gordon Lightfoot walks in on a young Bob Dylan hunkered over a typewriter, the poetry of his renowned lyricism passing through his fingers and onto the keys to be imprinted in ink on paper. They will either be used or jettisoned. We’ll never know. It was a pretty prolific time for both of them.

You could picture Dylan there, disheveled, a wisp of smoke rising from the collection of crushed out cigs in the ashtray beside him, hammering out his lines while Lightfoot stood dumbfounded by the man’s ability to type.

Bob, perhaps without missing a keystroke, turns and, through the smoke, speaks in a voice that can only belong to him: “What, Gord, you never learned how to type in high school?”

Lightfoot retorts with the first thing that comes to mind: “Well, Bob, I took Latin lessons.”

Bob may have grinned, he may have grunted, but he most certainly kept on typing. As I said, it was a pretty prolific time.

The year is somewhere around 1964 and Bob’s about to blow the roof off the folk revival by going electric. Lightfoot may have very well been bearing witness to the genesis of lines that would form Dylan’s lyrical rock revolution.

How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone

How did it feel, I wonder?

This is the mid-60s. This was Woodstock, New York, a couple of years before half a million strong would descend upon Yasgur’s farm forever transforming the little town into a moment that would define an era. For now, though, Woodstock wasn’t a festival. It was a colony of creativity where one could have painted one of those music icon assembly posters and it’d have actually been a reality. Along with Gordon and Bob, people like Janis Joplin, Simon and Garfunkel, Hendrix, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison and the Band would all pass through at some point.

Bob and Gordon would carry a mutual respect for one another all their lives and when asked Lightfoot wouldn’t hesitate in saying Dylan was his favourite musican but it all started there. Lightfoot was writing songs that would become hits for others at the time while working on his first album. It would be released after his buddy Bob hammered a few nails into the coffin of his time revitalizing the folk scene. Those days were gone and soon so would go Woodstock. There would be a motorcycle crash, those world-shattering new recordings and a man who was already a star would move out of his shimmering corner of the universe into the galaxy of legend.

Gordon had a few years to go but he’d get there. 16 Juno Awards, 4 ASCAP song writing awards, five Grammy nominations, Canadian recording artist of the decade. He was inducted onto Canada’s Walk of Fame in 1998, made a celebrity captain of the Leafs, given the Order of Ontario to go along with the Order of Canada. Heck, they even sculpted him out of bronze in his hometown of Orilla. It was only fitting when, in 1986, Bob got to induct Gordon into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

Still, with all the accolades and trophies and plaques, Gordon shy’s away from acknowledging what his music has meant to his country. He doesn’t really consider himself a legend, Canadian or otherwise, just a guy with a guitar and a few words to sing. When asked what his most cherished award is he mentions certificates he won singing for the Kiwanis club. This was before meeting Bob, before Woodstock, before even writing his first songs.

Gordon was only 13.

Now in his twilight years, he looks to his youth and, like Charles Foster Kane in the famed Welles film, he holds tightly to the memories of growing up. Lightfoot’s Rosebud would be Massey Hall.

“There I was 13 years old and singing a solo,” says Lightfoot still sounding astonished by this moment, as though it were only last week and not over five decades ago.

Though illness has threatened to take him out a few pieces at a time, thankfully, the memory remains. He’d later play there dozens of times but, as a kid, it was where he first got a taste of what could be.

There was no other way to go. A few deviations, yes, but he would be a musician, and, whether he likes to admit it or not, that once 13-year-old kid on the Massey Hall stage would become a legend.

Unlike at least one of his contemporaries, however, he’d become a legend with Latin lessons.

In the second part of my chat with Lightfoot we’ll touch upon his illness and how he overcame it only to come full circle, returning once again to his youthful memories where he’s still a kid singing Christmas tunes on his relative’s kitchen table.

Ottawa Life: Many don’t expect such a drastic curve to be tossed their way so late in their career but, in 2002, you were standing at the start of what would become a bump filled road ahead of you for a few years. A few newspapers, if I recall correctly, even proclaimed you hadn’t survived. How did that affect you? I read you were having visions of your own death for a while?

Gordon Lightfoot: That thing lasted for 19 months altogether, from start to finish, but for the first six weeks I don’t remember anything. They played music for me to make me wake up and the very first tune I heard was one of my audience’s favorite tunes, “Minstrel of the Dawn”. It was the first thing that I finally heard coming through that headset. So for the next several months I recovered from the multitude of operations that I had and started working on some demo recordings. I got the guys into the studio and we made another album.

I wondered if I would ever be able to perform again. I tell you for awhile there I wasn’t sure. Then I started to get the feeling that I would be able to the second or third time around going back into the hospital for more rounds of operations. I mean, this thing was something else!

I practiced all the time, when I was home and healing, just practicing the guitar. I think I learned things about the guitar that I didn’t know. We wound up getting a pretty good album out of it. By the time it was all over with it took fourteen months to work on that album while I was going through this whole process and I never thought of my condition at all. I thought how fortuitous it was that we had some raw material that we could work on.

remainder of interview in next post:
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