Mudcat Café message #471683 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #34345   Message #471683
Posted By: vlmagee
28-May-01 - 08:31 AM
Thread Name: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
Let me introduce myself. My name is Valerie Magee and I do a web site for Gord. My site is not official (he doesn't have an official site and doesn't want one), but I have designed it to fill that role. So any of you who want to know what he is doing these days - including his up-to-date tour schedule - can visit my site at http://gordonlightfoot.com . I also have a mailing list. I don't send out a lot of mail, so don't fear a deluge, but I do let people know when there are a bunch of new tour dates or if there is any other important news.

I have just returned from his three days of concerts "at home" (for him) in Toronto. He has been playing Massey Hall for well over 30 years, and every return there is an "event". His three concerts were awesome; I had just seen him three weeks previously in Westbury, NY and in CT, and these concerts were even better than the earlier ones. He is performing three brand new songs, has made changes in the production (including new lighting effects), and he and the whole band are performing with amazing energy and precision.

For anyone who has never seen him in concert, understand that the music is the center of his performance. He is not interested in a fancy "show", and he is a very shy and laid-back performer. The element that has always come through for me in his live performances is the passion; each time he sings a song - even after 30 or 35 years - he puts in the same passion that went into it when he first wrote it. It's as if he is turning back the clock and reliving something that happened years ago. At the same time, if you watch him and his band, you can't help but marvel at their skill and precision; try watching Lightfoot's hands when he plays; especially remarkable is the grace and easy of his fingerpicking style.

As noted earlier in the thread, Lightfoot never had a stroke. He did have Bell's Palsy, which is facial paralysis caused by inflamation of a facial nerve. But for most people (and for Lightfoot), this is a condition which clears up either 100% or nearly so. Lightfoot had Bell's Palsy in 1972, before all of his hits except for If You Could Read My Mind. It is not a factor today at all.

He is very thin, but I think it is by choice. His health is good and in person he does not appear frail; quite the contrary. This year his tour schedule will include about 55 concerts, more than in recent years. And he has toured every year since he started, except for 1986 when he thought he was retiring. Luckily, he quickly changed his mind.

To briefly answer the guitar tuning question above, he uses standard tuning and a capo on the 2nd fret for most of his songs. For Early Mornin' Rain and Canadian Railroad Trilogy, he uses dropped D tuning and the capo on the third fret (on a 12 string Gibson). His 6 string is a Martin D-18. He moves his capo exactly once - to the third fret - to play Old Dan's Records or Cold On The Shoulder at the end of the show.

There is a very large Internet community of Lightfoot fans and all you you who have posted in this thread are invited (urged, in fact) to join us. In fact, 70 of us converged on Toronto for the recent concerts, brought together by one energetic and efficient fan who arranged hotel rooms and several other get-togethers. Most of us had never met before, yet in 5 minutes we all felt that the others were longtime friends.

Most amazing was the group of devoted fans who brought their guitars, including at least one Martin and one Taylor, from as far away as California. These player/fans got together on Friday and again on Saturday for wonderful jam sessions, playing together for the first time. Their talent and devotion was unbelievable; the first run through of songs would take your breath away. We had a 20-something college kid doing the lead guitar riffs, others playing rhythm, and several people doing wonderful vocals. Those of us who are musically challenged sat and listened spellbound.

Most of us met on the Usenet newsgroup alt.music.lightfoot; some others found us through one of several discussion sites. If you want to join us, send me an e-mail and I will help you get started. We also have chats several times a week. At the moment we are using a browser based chat facility because everyone can use it without having to download any software. You can get to the chat by going to http://chat.gordonlightfoot.com . The current chat schedule is Tuesday/Friday at 9PM and Sunday at 2PM. The Sunday chat is theoretically suspended for the summer, but a few hardy folks still stop in there. I'll be there today if I don't get dragged out of here by my husband.

PLUS, on Wednesdays at 8PM we have a "guitar chat". This is for people who play Lightfoot music, or want to, and even for people who want to listen to the discussion and learn from it even if they are not players themselves.

I am a total beginner who decided to learn how to play shortly AFTER I ordered the Lightfoot Martin signature guitar: the D-18GL; it is scheduled to ship to the stores any day now. I picked two fingerpicked songs as the first two I would learn (don't even ask why I did that, but "favorite songs" had a lot to do with it); so I am working on Song For A Winter's Night (the Bm is still impossible for me) and Sit Down Young Stranger. I had my greatest high on Saturday night when Lightfoot played Sit Down Young Stranger - a song that he has played only once since 1998 - in response to my request.

If any of you want to start separate threads here on any Lightfoot topics, I would love to jump in anywhere. I am thrilled to see so many of you here.