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Old 06-20-2013, 01:48 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2000
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Default APPLETON WI. article

In 1965, a young Canadian singer-songwriter named Gordon Lightfoot opened for legendary jazz pianist Oscar Peterson at the Masonic Temple in Detroit.

It marked the start of Lightfoot’s career as a working musician — he had just secured his first work visa allowing him to perform in the United States — and so began a creative run that would touch six decades, gather a wealth of accolades and, perhaps most importantly, deliver a number of classic songs from a 20-album output that spans generations.

Lightfoot was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2012 and the 74-year-old multi-platinum artist behind “If You Could Read My Mind” and “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” brings his 50 Years on the Carefree Highway tour to the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in Appleton Sunday.

On the phone from his home in Toronto, Lightfoot spoke with Post-Crescent Media about his storied career, having to alter the lyrics to one of his most famous songs and what concertgoers can expect from Sunday night’s career-spanning performance.

PC: Did you ever imagine you’d get to 20 albums?

GL: I wasn’t sure. There were times when I got around No. 10 and No. 13 and No. 15 and I’d wondered if there was another one left. … But there always seemed to be one left and I would just go at it and I had a band and I had a crew and I had responsibilities.

PC: Are you still writing songs?

GL: I am. I have no plans to record. My life is so full of the richest of children and grandchildren right now and still touring and still having my family around me and feeling so fortunate. … I’m really not eager to make another recording, so I just mess around with the songwriting. I practice a lot and I think of melodies and I think of lines and it’s fun.

PC: After a 50-year career, your legacy is pretty much set. Is that something you think about?

GL: Well, if anyone’s doing my tunes, I’ll leave them with this message: I’ve never heard a cover recording I didn’t like. I never have. I say that tongue in cheek but I mean that. … I’m so deeply, deeply honored and surprised, and so much so at the beginning when I heard one of my songs go up to like No. 5 on the Billboard chart, by Peter Paul and Mary. Thanks to Ian & Sylvia, who you probably don’t even know — Ian & Sylvia were a Canadian folk duet tour de force in the folk era. They were a husband and wife team and they wrote songs and they were the first to record my songs and they were associated with Peter Paul and Mary and they gave my song to Peter Yarrow … and the recording was called “For Loving Me” and it went up to No. 5 on the Billboard chart. My song. They did a wonderful job on it, Peter Yarrow did a delightful arrangement.

It’s a horrible song, I won’t even sing it. … It’s really chauvinistic, it’s the epitome of chauvinism. It taught me never to write songs like that again, and I really try to bear that in mind.

In my writing I try not to offend people in any way and even more so on “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” I tried hard, did not quite succeed because the hatch cover idea didn’t fly. That was an interesting time. ... I had some ’splainin’ to do.

PC: And you’ve since changed the lyrics (to “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” after the cause of the ship’s demise was discovered) when you perform it.

GL: Yes, yes I did and I thought it was quite well-done. It took me a couple of weeks to figure it out. I had the waves splashing across the bow and over the stern and breaking apart mid-ship at the main bulkhead, which is probably what happened, but I just couldn’t get it into the line. It had already been proven, so what I did is I said, “… it grew dark, it was then he said fellas its been good to know ya.” Thanks to Woody Guthrie on the last three words. … It used to be “a main hatchway caved in.” They proved that was not what happened. It was proven by a program they did at National Geographic called “Dive Detectives.” … It was a rogue wave that was the most likely thing.

PC: Have you noticed your crowds growing older along with you or have they been getting younger?

GL: They all want to bring their kids. We get the whole families. It’s so much fun, we love it. We wouldn’t even think about quitting. We’re going to play 70 shows this year.

PC: Have there been artists that have covered your songs that really made you think, ‘Wow, I can’t believe this person is playing my song’?

GL: I could start from the top down and say that Elvis Presley did two of my songs. There’s a whole bunch more and if I had my list here, I’d start reading them off to you. I think I’ve had about a couple hundred cover recordings. All kinds of notable people.

PC: Including Bob Dylan.

GL: Yeah, he’s in there. He did one and I did one of his. I did “Ring Them Bells,” he did “Early Morning Rain.” I got a lot of recordings of “Early Morning Rain.” There were a lot of other ones too. “Ribbon of Darkness” went up to No. 1 on the country chart with Marty Robbins. I’m glad they did it the way they did because mine was too slow. There was Barbra Streisand doing “If You Could Read My Mind.” You know, certain notables. Jerry Lee Lewis did one, “For Loving Me.” So did Elvis. Elvis did a real good one on “Early Morning Rain.” George Hamilton IV and Judy Collins and Eric Clapton, a whole bunch of people.

PC: What can folks expect when coming out to your show?

GL: We’ll be doing all the standards, which there are 12. Those are the songs that get done every night. The rest of it is all different. We try to cover as much of the repertoire as we can with as much time is left which is about 14 songs. We do about 26 tunes. The whole thing takes two hours and five minutes and there’s a 20-minute intermission.

I’m always thinking about the show and I’m always adjusting. We’ve been doing research and I went into storage with a bunch of my stuff here in my mind and we pulled out about six or eight of the dark horses that have been hanging out in the repertoire going back about 25 years, the great ones we never really gave a good shot to on stage and we’re working those in.

— Shane Nyman: 920-993-1000, ext. 240, or on Twitter @shanenyman
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Old 06-20-2013, 02:54 PM   #2
Auburn Annie
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Default Re: APPLETON WI. article

I wonder which "dark horses" will get put back into rotation? Some have been out so long they'll sound like new songs, lol.
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Old 06-20-2013, 08:15 PM   #3
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Default Re: APPLETON WI. article

My wife and I will be attending both Lake Delton and Appleton, Wisconsin concerts. When we return to the Twin Cities on Sunday, I'll post set lists for both.

Hoping for "Now and Then" and "Circle of Steel". Bitter Green would be quite a surprise, but very much appreciated.

See you Monday!

John / Minnesota
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Old 06-20-2013, 09:19 PM   #4
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Default Re: APPLETON WI. article

I've got your back on the Appleton setlist, John

See you Sunday!
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