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Old 03-10-2009, 09:18 AM   #1
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 15,618
Default Topeka article

From: March 7, 2009 - Concert was on the 8th.
Lightfoot to sing at TPAC

Famed singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot performs at 8 p.m. Sunday at the Topeka Performing Arts Center.

Topeka-bound folk music legend no longer driven to craft new material

March 7, 2009
At 70 and after surviving a near fatal medical condition, Gordon Lightfoot says he would rather perform his vast catalog of songs than compose new ones.

Lightfoot, who will perform at 8 p.m. Sunday at the Topeka Performing Arts Center, said he still jots down song ideas when they occur to him.

“I could probably get started on four or five of them right now if I wanted to, but there are other things in my life that require my attention a lot more, you know, in this latter part,” he said recently by telephone from his home in Canada.

Lightfoot got his start as a songwriter in the 1960s.

Peter, Paul & Mary made hits out of his songs, “For Lovin’ Me” and “Early Morning Rain.” Marty Robbins scored a No. 1 single with Lightfoot’s “Ribbon of Darkness.”

A decade later, Lightfoot began performing his own material with great success.

He topped Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart with “If You Could Read My Mind,” “Sundown,” “Carefree Highway” and “Rainy Day People.” “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” and “Circle is Small (I Can See It In Your Eyes)” also cracked the Top 10.

“I’ve completed all my recording obligations a long time ago, in 1998. I was under recording contracts for 33 years,” said Lightfoot of a career that yielded 19 studio albums on major labels, earned him five Grammy Award nominations and 17 Juno Awards in his native Canada.

He influenced major recording artists, including Bob Dylan, who said, “Every time I hear a song of his, it’s like I wish it would last forever.”

In 2002, Lightfoot had 30 songs ready for a studio album when he experienced severe stomach pain before a concert.

Diagnosed with a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm, Lightfoot underwent emergency surgery, spent six weeks in a coma, required a tracheotomy and later endured four more operations.

During his recovery, Lightfoot completed “Harmony,” which he released independently in 2004. His 20th studio album could very well be his last, he said.

“I’m really concentrating on shows, and I’m doing great shows,” he said. “We stay well prepared and well rehearsed. I have a very enthusiastic group of backup musicians, and they do a great job.”

Joining Lightfoot on the road are lead guitarist Terry Clements, bassist Rick Haynes, keyboard player Michael Heffernan and drummer Barry Keane.

In describing what the TPAC audience should expect Sunday night, Lightfoot said: “We don’t have an opening act. We do two halves, and we have a 20-minute intermission. The whole thing lasts for about two hours and five minutes. It’s not a long show, and it’s not a tiresome show, and it has a great deal of variety in it.”

The audience should hear all of Lightfoot’s biggest hits as he doesn’t tire of performing them, he said.

The “most recognizable ones are often the best ones to perform,” he said.

One certain to be in the mix is “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” a story song Lightfoot composed after reading a Newweek article about how on Nov. 10, 1975, in a severe storm the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior taking all 29 aboard it to a watery grave.

Expected in the TPAC audience is Pam Johnson, of Abilene, whose father, Robert C. Rafferty, was the cook aboard the ill-fated Fitzgerald.

Lightfoot, who endows a scholarship at the Great Lakes Maritime Academy in Traverse City, Mich., said the families of the Fitzgerald’s crew remain special to him and he has gathered with them at memorials of the sinking.

Bill Blankenship can be reached at (785) 295-1284 or
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