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Old 10-15-2008, 11:08 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2000
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Default Stockton article

By Tony Sauro
Record Staff Writer
October 14, 2008 6:00 AM
Gordon Lightfoot still has a wonderful way with words.

Contemplating how he feels about having his image immortalized on a Canadian postage stamp - a 52-cent stamp, no less - the iconic folk singer-songwriter said:

"Now that I got my face on a stamp, I can sit at home and travel all over the world."

Gordon Lightfoot

When: 7:30 p.m. Wed.

Where: Bob Hope Theatre, 242 E. Main St., downtown Stockton

Tickets: $45-$55

Information: (209) 337-4673
Well, he could. But he doesn't.

Barely a month before he turns 70 (on Nov. 17) - and six years after surviving a nearly fatal stomach aneurysm - Lightfoot, one of Canada's major musical exports, still is on the road.

As part of a 60-date U.S. tour, he and his four-piece band perform Wednesday night at Stockton's Bob Hope Theatre. It's Lightfoot's first show here during a 48-year career.

"We really love to work and we love the communication and we're doing great shows," Lightfoot said during a telephone interview from his home in Toronto. "I have a passion and I really enjoy performing. And it pays the bills, you know what I'm talking about? Good way to go."

Over five decades and 20 albums, Lightfoot's warm and wise way with words, memorable melodies and distinctively expressive voice have stamped the Orillia, Ontario, native as a Canadian national treasure.

They also helped compose the soundtrack for lots of people's lives during the 1970s, when Lightfoot's singles made it to the American top 40 six times and his albums were becoming timeless talismans.

Most of his songs - delivered in a smooth, supple and sensitive style - concern affairs of the heart. He's a compelling storyteller (lakes, rivers, boats and ships are recurring themes) who crafts sharply detailed character studies.

He also proudly ennobles the natural beauty and majesty of Canada, "this verdant country" as he describes it in "Canadian Railroad Trilogy," considered Canada's second national anthem by many.

"Oh, gee, I don't worry about stuff like that," said the affable and humble Lightfoot of such an anthemic notion. "We'll leave that for the hockey business."

Lightfoot has attained every conceivable musical and cultural honor in Canada (including the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1986 and Companion of the Order of Canada in 2003) and sustained his success despite releasing only one album of new material since 1998.

"All it does, I guess, is make me work harder," Lightfoot said of his many accolades.

His classic songs - from "If You Could Read My Mind" (No. 5 in 1971) to "Sundown" (No. 1 in 1974), "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" (No. 2 in 1976) and the Peter, Paul & Mary standards "Early Morning Rain" and "For Lovin' Me" - have weathered time and trends and aged extremely well.

Lightfoot barely survived.

He collapsed prior to a Sept. 7, 2002, concert in Orillia, Ontario. He had suffered an acute abdominal aneurysm. After undergoing emergency surgery and spending six weeks in a coma, he gradually and determinedly recovered. He completed a 2004 album ("Harmony") while still flat on his back.

By July 2004, he was performing again.

"I feel good," said Lightfoot, who survived Bell's palsy in 1976 and stopped drinking in 1982. "I had to fight my way back. I was down for two years (2002-04). I wasn't sure, but I made it back and I fought my way back."

He said it required "determination, belief and exercise and all the things it takes to get better after something like that. Having a burst artery is not really a simple thing to deal with."

"We're back to doing 60 shows a year. That's pretty good."

Lightfoot has been accomplishing that with some good friends - guitarist Terry Clements, bassist Rick Haynes and drummer Barry Keane, who have toured and recorded with him since the 1970s, and keyboard player Michael Heffernan.

"Every time they tackle a song they find a new way of doing it," said Lightfoot, who is low-key but still a perfectionist. "The material we have is well-paced and they know where to go.

"I'm the oldest member of the band, anyway, by a long shot. The other guys, they'll hang in there because they love the music, too. They love doing the shows.

"I could sing 'If You Could Read My Mind' 10,000 times and it wouldn't bother me at all. It's a wonderful song. It's a little bit different every time."

Like his role models and contemporaries - Lightfoot mentioned Ian Tyson, Kris Kristofferson, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Tony Bennett, Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan - he remains a true troubadour.

That's not something he necessarily envisioned when he started singing and playing music at the age of 5, studied composition at the Los Angeles School of Music in 1956-57 and began his professional career as a singer and square dancer on Canadian television in 1960.

Lightfoot gained experience and exposure in Yorkville, a folk music mecca in Toronto that also nurtured Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Ian & Sylvia.

Following a few false starts, his first album ("Lightfoot!") was released in 1966.

Though he quickly developed a large and loyal Canadian audience, Lightfoot didn't break through in the U.S. until "If You Could Read My Mind" became a hit in January 1971.

Though he's fallen off the mainstream pop music radar in the U.S. since the 1980s, he still sells tickets and pleases audiences.

"Well, it's not so much being on the road, but to be 70 and still be doing it," said Lightfoot, a single father of six. "Actually, the road is quite easy. It's well-planned. It's well-executed, you know. ... And it really works out fine.

"It's desire. It's exercise. It's practice. It's staying organized. None of us are getting any younger. We're doing real good. I could go another three years if we don't have health issues. You gotta get ready for anything."

Contact Tony Sauro at (209) 546-8267 or
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Old 10-16-2008, 11:44 AM   #2
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Stockton is not far from where I am now living. I really wanted to go to this concert but circumstances conspired against me. I did have a Lightfoot concert of my own at work......many of you probably have done the same.

I know at least one Corfid member who was going and I hope TC will let us know some of the details. The theater which was recently refurbed, holds somewhere over 2000 and I'm wondering what the reception of our Bard was. How full was the venue. How were the acoustics etc.

Inquiring minds want to know......

Fill us in Tony
Doug "When love is true.....there is no truer occupation"
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Old 10-16-2008, 07:02 PM   #3
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Thank you again for your tireless and thankless at times I am sure job. I have added this article, and comment-replied to it - plugged too, in the light of our immense respect for his body of work and strength.
~geo Steve . :"I will leave my footprints there to lie beneath the snow" ~gl
Quote to ponder: "A thousand words leave not the same deep impression as does a single deed." ~ Henrik Ibsen
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Old 10-17-2008, 07:55 AM   #4
Jesse Joe
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Another great article, thanks for the post Charlene, the man is a Living Legend.
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Old 10-17-2008, 02:19 PM   #5
Auburn Annie
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Another three years, eh? Maybe then limit it to annual "Church of Gord" extended runs once or twice a year (spring/fall concerts)? I've made the pilgrimage to Massey before and "I'd Do It Again."
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