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Old 07-21-2009, 05:14 PM   #1
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Default Gordon Lightfoot returns to Detroit, memories in tow

by Chad Swiatecki | Contributing Writer
Tuesday July 21, 2009, 3:23 PM
It's clear from the first moments talking with Gordon Lightfoot that
Detroit holds a special place in the Canadian folk superstar's heart.
With but the slightest prodding he dives into tales of what were his first
working trips to another country, playing the legendary coffee house The
Living End in the mid-'60s.

"It was exciting because that was the same time that Joni Mitchell was
living there along with Tom Rush," Lightfoot said by phone from his home
in Toronto recently. "I remember sitting in Joni's kitchen and playing her
songs, at the time when she lived near Wayne State University.

"Things were mellower back then and I just remember good times in Detroit,
but I was there also when the (1968) riots were happening. I wrote a song
about it called 'Black Day In July' and the label tried to make a single
out of it. Of course, radio wouldn't touch it and of course I knew they
wouldn't but it was the label's decision and all I could do at the time
was ask them, 'Why in the world are young doing this?'"

Of course, with close to 50 years of performing under his belt, Lightfoot
probably has mesmerizing war stories like that for just about every city
he visits. His ability to recall them just about instantly and spin vivid
tales at a moment's notice points to why he's become a songwriting legend.

Now 70, Lightfoot said he averages 50 to 70 live dates per year, including
a show Thursday at Meadow Brook Music Festival.

"The voice is still good and we're a well-organized group that remains
focused on putting together the best show possible," he said. "We're doing
70 shows this year, just broken up into eight or so chunks so that it
remains manageable for me. This chunk starts with four nights in Toronto,
and a two-night charity series in my home town that we do every year to
benefit the local hospital. We started doing that 30 years ago and it's a
nice thing to count on doing every year."

Practicing and preparing for the concerts, which average two and a half
hours and around 27 songs, takes up the bulk of Lightfoot's musical energy
these days since "my audience is getting kind of up there, just like I am"
and prefers to hear well-worn songs such as "The Wreck of the Edmund
Fitzgerald" and "If You Could Read My Mind."

That doesn't mean he's given up on reaching a new generation, as evidenced
by a well-received guest appearance on the "Canadian Idol" talent show,
where the contest's six semi-finalists spent an episode performing his

Lightfoot said he enjoyed the experience mentoring the young singers, and
came away with some valuable reflections on the state of the music

"It's part and parcel of the entire industry and the way things are done
now -- the people love it and the TV viewers love it and there are lots of
people who emerge and who have good talent," he said. "But the thing I
notice is they don't seem to last long and there's no sustaining motion
happening with their careers.

"These are guys who give good concerts, make good videos and write good
music. It does all depend on how prepared they are and whether or not
they're very good songwriters. Lots of people don't get into that mode. Of
course that's a mode that's led to the breakup of two of my marriages
because of all the sacrifice, so I guess I can't blame them."

Lightfoot's songwriting is marked by a stark honesty and autobiographical
nature that might be a tough approach to take for younger writers, but the
veteran said he got over his own fears of revealing too much by knowing
members of his audience had almost certainly been through similar trying

"When I'm writing I've usually been greatly inspired or enormously
depressed by a woman," he shares, half laughing. "There's lots of
autobiographical statements in what I write, but I make them knowing that
everyone in that room has felt the same things at some point in their

"I've only ever changed one word in a song because of its impact -- in "If
You Could Change My Mind" -- because my eldest daughter said what I wrote
didn't look very favorably on her mother. I agreed and I wanted to do
right by my daughter, realizing I wrote many songs that were chauvinistic
when I was younger. Thankfully, I mostly grew out of that."

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• What: Gordon Lightfoot in concert

• When: 8 p.m. Thursday, July 23

• Where: Meadow Brook Music Festival

• Cost: $15, $20, $46.50

• Info: (248) 377-0100,
"I'll see you all next Saturday..."
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Old 07-21-2009, 11:34 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: somewhere, OH
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Send a message via Yahoo to gwenagain
Default Re: Gordon Lightfoot returns to Detroit, memories in tow

Good interview.
I have tickets for the concert this Thursday!
sounds like the concerts will be another hit.
goin to a Gord concert!
gwenagain is offline   Reply With Quote

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