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Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot

15 May 01 - 06:39 AM (#462612)
Subject: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: Dunkle

We saw Gordon in concert last night in Princeton, for the second time, the first being thirty years ago in Hartford. I haven't been following his career too closely in the last, say, twenty years, and most of the songs he sang were familiar. He's become a very small, thin person, and his voice at times had a tremolo/Kathryn Hepburn quality to it. He has the same bassist that he had thirty years ago, as well as the same (apparently) Gibson 12 that's on one of his album covers from that early time when I was buying his records. I enjoyed the concert, and came away with strong feelings about his 'legacy', the body of work that he's produced, and has offered to the rest of us. I'd enjoy hearing others' thoughts about him, his work, what he's been doing in the last twenty or so years (we learned he's now 62, remarried, with two kids under twelve years old.) Has his smoking (again, evident from his earlier album covers) affected his health? Thanks for your thoughts, Dunkle.

15 May 01 - 07:34 AM (#462628)
Subject: RE: BS: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: Skipjack K8

I was thinking about Gord last night, and went and dug out the lyric to Ballad of the Yarmouth Castle, and had a sing through. I was turned on to GL by my sister over twenty five years ago, and I rank him up there with the other great mainstream folkies. I didn't realise he is still working, and I for one would love to see him if he plays the UK.


15 May 01 - 08:38 AM (#462659)
Subject: RE: BS: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: GUEST,willie-o

A tortured genius, I suppose. He has/had partial facial paralysis from a stroke I think. Not just smoking, but many years of heavy drinking have been rough on old Gord.

Lightfoot and Ian Tyson basically invented the Canadian singer-songwriter archetype. The tall lean lyrical poet, forever on the move, writing with very Canadian imagery, a lone wolf with a burden to bear, a superb composer and singer of tunes with nuanced melodies, but not a technically brilliant instrumentalist.

Lightfoot started in the fifties as a high school barbershop quartet singer. He switched to the folk scene during the early folk scare. You could almost call this opportunistic, since he was an ambitious young professional musician looking for an audience, but the results were fortunate.

Lightfoot used a lot more sophisticated chords and inversions than most 60's folkies. All those sixths and ninths. That combined with his lyric vision made his songs durable, and the jazz influence is what makes Tony Rice, among others, to cover Lightfoot songs. They're fun for guitar players as well as singers.

He's been out of the limelight since the seventies, but pops up now and then. Good to see him on the road again, he's one of the main guys.


15 May 01 - 10:31 AM (#462722)
Subject: RE: BS: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: Rick Fielding

One AMAZING body of work. As has Tyson.


15 May 01 - 10:42 AM (#462728)
Subject: RE: BS: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: jeffp

I remember seeing him at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania in 1971 or 72. He told a story about driving into town listening to the local radio station. The station announced that they would give a pair of tickets to the Gordon Lightfoot to the first person to show up at the station. Well, since Gordon noticed that he was passing by the studios at that moment, he parked the car and went on in. Imagine the shock of the announcer when he showed up to claim tickets to his own show! He said he stuck around to greet the real winner.

Good singer, good songwriter, great sense of humor (or humour, since he's Canadian)


15 May 01 - 10:47 AM (#462730)
Subject: RE: BS: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot

This is a good thread.

It's my understanding that, despite a bit of dimished range and power, he's basically healthy, and doing more road work these past few years than ever.

I don't think I like touring or big crowds.

He's my son's favorite, his 21st birthday included a GL concert. He was not the only younger person there.

He played my request (& favorite GL tune)"Cherokee Bend" (well, actually several people requested it).

One of his more recent tunes, "I Used To Be A Country Singer"
has a wonderful chorus that goes:

And she said,
I used to be a country singer.
I could sing a mean Patsy Cline.
My husband, he could yodel like Wilf Carter.
Kitty Wells was a real good friend of mine.

I heard that and thought, like many I suppose,
"I know that person, I've met her a dozen times."

Well captured, Gord (well he might be a silent catter)!

15 May 01 - 12:30 PM (#462828)
Subject: RE: BS: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: Stevangelist

"Ribbon Of Darkness"... "Carefree Highway"... "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"...

I love GL. Don't know much of his stuff, but I've heard him do these and I have a greatest hits tape around here somewhere. He's just the kind of folkie that many of my player friends have wanted to be: easygoing and insightful without having to march to save the whales. (*BIG GRIN*)

May The Road Rise To Meet You,


15 May 01 - 12:33 PM (#462831)
Subject: RE: BS: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: mousethief

I love just about everything I've heard from him except TWOTEF. Sorry.

But I *love* especially Carefree Highway.


15 May 01 - 12:37 PM (#462834)
Subject: RE: BS: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: Trapper

I still love Gord's older stuff, but in the eighties he started getting away from stories and more into the smarmy, gooshey romantic ballads. I lost track of him after that. Still love "Canadian Railroad Trilogy", "Don Quixote", "Approaching Lavender"... I could go on and on. I saw him on cable a few months ago, and agree with Dunkle that his range has diminished some, but it was still fun to see him again.

- Al

15 May 01 - 12:40 PM (#462838)
Subject: RE: BS: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: Kim C

My boss is from Canada and is a HUGE fan of his. A few months ago the local PBS station aired a Lightfoot concert, which I watched, and I thought he did pretty well. Roslyn, however, HATED it. She was expecting the same Gordon she knew and loved 30 years ago, and was disappointed. But I didn't know him then, and I thought the show was good. I hadn't realized how many people had recorded his songs.

I know a lot of people think Edmund Fitzgerald is hokey, but I love it, being interested in ships and shipwrecks and all that. The song has a very haunting quality to it, and the real-life story of the shipwreck is fascinating and sad. Scary, too, how the Great Lakes behave from time to time.

15 May 01 - 12:48 PM (#462853)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: Trapper

I was at a Gord show in Minneapolis when he told us that he wanted to try out a new song on us. He counted it down, and those now-familiar steel guitar riffs that begin the Edmund Fitzgerald rang out over the crowd. Goosebumps. Everyone in the place KNEW it was going to be a huge hit...


15 May 01 - 12:51 PM (#462859)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: Dunkle

I hadn't heard that he'd had a stroke... I was on the wrong side of his guitar last night, and when he turned to me every once in a while his fingerings were unrecognizable - Were these his 6th and 9th chords, as has been suggested above, or was he using opening tunings? Any insights, anyone? Again, thanks, Dunkle.

15 May 01 - 12:54 PM (#462866)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: mousethief

It's not the hokiness of the lyrics (although some of the rhymes are atrocious) but the monotony of the melody that puts me off the E.F.


15 May 01 - 01:20 PM (#462891)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: MMario

I friend of mine's Dad used to do live broadcasts from Canada - Gordon used to do backups for him. My friend has studio tapes from the broadcasts...kinda neat

15 May 01 - 01:38 PM (#462913)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: BRG

Lightfoot was a strong early influence for me (as I'm sure he was for many others) although I drifted away over the years. "Canadian Railroad Trilogy" and "Seven Island Suite" are favorites. He has some great stuff. Glad he's still out there doing it.


15 May 01 - 02:19 PM (#462951)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: Lonesome EJ

Great Songs!! I love Early Morning Rain, The Way I Feel, Ribbon of Darkness, Song for a Winter's Night. If You Could Read my Mind suffered from serious radio over-play (as did Fitzgerald) but was also a terrific tune. I still listen to my tape Gord's Gold on a regular basis.

15 May 01 - 02:48 PM (#462975)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: Little Hawk

Lightfoot headlined the Mariposa Folk Festival's triumphant return to Orillia last summer, and he did a very classy set on the Saturday evening of that weekend. All those great old songs...what a catalogue!

He's looking very lean and weatherbeaten, and his voice has lost a little strenght, but he still does a meticulous and excellent performance.

This year the Mariposa will headline Ian Tyson and the McGarrigle sisters. How about that! Should be a great show.

- LH

15 May 01 - 03:18 PM (#462991)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot

i saw him back in '78 or '79 i think it was sometime after "if you could read my mind" i was just learning to fingerpick when "early morning rain " came out it was grat fun to play what a beautiful voice sorry mouse buti'm with kim on this one i always found E F very moving right from the begining and have yet to grow tired of it i managed to sneak a tape recorder into that concert (which i beleve was a birthday present) i'll try and set them aside the next time i run across them

15 May 01 - 03:50 PM (#463007)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: Dunkle

What/where/when's the mariposa, Little Hawk?

15 May 01 - 04:13 PM (#463021)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: Little Hawk

Hi, Dunkle...

The Mariposa Folk Festival is one of the oldest large folk festivals around. It started in the very early 60's, and is still going. This year it will be in Orillia, to which it returned last year after 35 years or more in other locations, such as Toronto.

That's Orillia, Ontario, hour and a half north of Toronto, 20 minutes north of Barrie.

Try this link:

You should find all the info you need there.

- LH

15 May 01 - 04:14 PM (#463023)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: Mark Cohen

In 1972 I went to NYC with some Princeton classmates to see Gordon Lightfoot at Lincoln Center. I'd only heard him before on a tape during a trip from NJ to Boston, and fell in love with Canadian Railroad Trilogy, especially the "We are the navvies" part.

We got to the Port Authority bus terminal and had an archetypical experience: I asked a Port Authority cop how to get to Lincoln Center, and he actually smiled at me and said, "Practice." Got to the concert late and as I nearly fell into a man's lap I apologized and he said, "Anything for Gordon!" The concert was wonderful. I remember he started the intro to a brand-new song, and the audience started applauding as if they recognized it. He just grinned and shook his head.

I bought his first two songbooks when I was teaching myself to play guitar as a second-year med student, and I still love to play from them, though the bindings have long since fallen apart. Great to hear he's still performing. Thanks for the memories...


15 May 01 - 04:47 PM (#463050)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: GUEST,beadie

I missed the first chance that I had to see Gordon Lightfoot. (I've seen him a couple of times since, but this would have been great) It was 1968 and I was stationed in Labrador at Goose Air Base. We got word that he was doing an impromptu tour of villages along the coast north of the base and the airman services office was organizing a little excursion to fly up and attend one of them (good for morale when you're on remote duty, don'tcha know). Well, naturally, one of those upper latitude late fall blows moved in off the North Atlantic and shut down air operations so we didn't get out. Gord, on the other hand, was flying "Bush Pilot Airlines" and seemed to have no trouble at all getting to each one of the scheduled stops. Go figure.

As for his music, I don't recall ever hearing anything I didn't like. "Steel Rail Blues" and "Brave Mountaineers" stand out in my mind, as well as his medley on Dream Street Rose of "That's what you get for loving me" and "I'm not saying."

Great stuff . . . . . great artist.

15 May 01 - 08:26 PM (#463235)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: GUEST,khandu

Ah, one of my all-time favorites. Never seen him live. I saw him on PBS recently and he did look very gaunt. I was concerned abiut his health.

I have enjoyed him since the late sixties. "For Lovin' Me" made me a fan.

Some time back I heard Christie Moore doing "Back Home in Derry" and beleived it to have been a very old song. I was disappointed in Gord for having stolen the tune and using it in "Edmund Fitz.".

When seeking the lyrics for "Back Home...", I was rather surprised and pleased that it was written by Gordon Lightfoot.

Great singer and songwriter. He deserves and has my utmost respect.


15 May 01 - 08:33 PM (#463241)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: Gypsy

Love Lightfoot, unabashedly, and have since he started. We do the Edmund Fitz on a regular basis. Not terribly boring once you add the mandolei (that's plural) hammer dulcimer, fiddle and banjo. Haven't met a tune of his that i don't like. And, amazingly enough, i like his songs, and his voice. Can't say that about alot of singersongwriters.

15 May 01 - 09:14 PM (#463272)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: GUEST,Robomatic49

My lovely Swedish housemate used to torture me with the lyrics to Albert Bound... "Oh the Skyline of Toron-TO is something you'll get on-TO..."


"And if you've got the MON-ey You can get yourself a HON-ey"....

but it sure beats another famouse songwriter... I AM I cried to no one there And no one made a sound, not even the CHAIR

oh yeah, I like Gordon Lightfoot, he's great.

15 May 01 - 10:08 PM (#463300)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: GUEST,Whoops

I erred in my earlier post, the medley I referred to appeared on the "Gord's Gold" double album. Specifically, the piece was re-recorded for that album. One disk of the double was re-mastered from previously released work and he went into the studio to redo all the songs on the second disk. A terrific release, in any case.

The Dream Street Rose album was significant because (I think) of his inclusion of "The Auctioneer." He records few enough of other people's work that, when he does a classic like this LeRoy Van Dyke rockabilly number from the fifties, it really makes me sit up and take notice.

15 May 01 - 10:17 PM (#463306)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot

I've got a high school yearbook, my mom's, from Orillia (hi Little Hawk... again) with Lightfoot and his band. They were called something like the Teenie-boppers. He had his hair slicked back and a doo-wop suit. I grew up listening to Gordon. My mom tells stories about catching her old townie in Toronto for a show before he turned into the great Canadian legend. I remember listening to Edmond Fitzgerald and memorizing the words like every good drunken teenage campfire Canadian boy. I was in Toronto on the weekend and saw a poster of him. He is playing Massey Hall next weekend. And yes, he looks small and thin. But, call it shallow, he finally looks like he sounds. I could never picture that brill-creamed kid from the yearbook singing Canadian Railroad Trilogy or Baby Step Back. I'm just sorry I missed him at Mariposa last year. But I'm catching Tyson this summer. See ya there Little Hawk.

15 May 01 - 10:18 PM (#463310)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot

This (and the one above) is Big Joe Mufferaw, by the way. I don't know why my handle isn't posting.

15 May 01 - 11:28 PM (#463351)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: uncle bill

I also saw the PBS special concert and was impressed at how strong he was at his age, but surprised at how frail he looked. I saw him in concert in 69 at Rock Creek in DC. He opened for Peter Paul and Mary and almost stole the show. He broke a string and carried on a dialogue with the audience , changed it in about 2 minutes and was up and running again. BTW, Ian Tyson was at Kerrville 2 years ago and has morphed into quite a cowboy singer. I know he is still revered as a god up north but he gave the impression that he hold us "old folkies" in low regard.

16 May 01 - 12:40 AM (#463419)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: BK

Missed the PBS concert - but maybe they'll sell a videotape of it...

I go WAY back w/GL. First saw him in Seatle, at the end of what I understood to be his first highly acclaimed US tour, apparently well sold out in most venues. In Seatle he'd booked the opera house, I think it was called. It was HUGE. But, unlike elsewhere, only a few folks showed up & many of them in cheap seats WAY, WAY back. When he came out & saw the tiny crowd, he told everybody to move up close - & then, for just a few rows of listeners, put on a fabulous, stunning show! He was simply GREAT! He even said "Mountains & Marianne" (outstanding song!) was abt riding a motorcycle, winning a bet for me - And, I'd ridden to the concert on a motorcycle..

Since then, my wife & I saw him multiple times over the years & every time he looked a little older 'n thinner & more like an old alky who has wrecked his lungs w/tobacco ("rode hard 'n put away wet" comes to mind). I imagined I would know EXACTLY what his lungs sound like, as I lsiten to such wrecked lungs every day in my role as a prison doctor.

BUT: We saw him at the university several weeks ago & it was still GREAT & more than worth it. He seems, for the first time, to be more mellow - in the past he'd often seemed a little sharp-edged, or angry. He also made a comment on stage this time (don't remember the exact words) that suggested he'd come to some peace he'd not had previously - probably something to do w/the new family. My wife & I really hope he has, & that he takes REALLY good care of himself from now on & keeps singing- as long as he wants to. We'll be glad to come hear him.

His voice, as he said on stage, has given up a few notes, but he still did a great show, & from the new material he did he still has that special touch as a writer.

& speakin' of qualities as a writer: I have always considered him as among the very best of the very best, a true genius. His words were eloquent, lyrical, insightful - a real poet. And his tunes are equally striking, & beautifully fit the words & the character of the message. For me, he was the most profound influence - far more than Dillon - who I never admired at all. In my days as a young sailor, my ship visited a Canadian Navy base (just as they were usin' up the Grog, 'n about to start some kind of "one uniform" thing w/Canadian Defence Forces.. Sad..)

Anyway, we jammed (til too snockered to hold down the guitar strings) on one of the canadian ships, 'n a Canadian sailor told me I sounded like GL. I was curious, so the next time I was in the Base Exchange I bought a Lightfoot album 'n was completely blown away! God, I only WISHED I sounded like him!! (I DON'T; never did!) The rest, as they say was history; I bought EVERYTHING from him I could lay my hands on & have been a fan & sometimes singer of his material, ever since..

I won't list all his songs I think are great - nowhere near enough room!

Anyway.. gotta get ta bed, lot's o work in the AM..

Cheers, BK

16 May 01 - 04:31 AM (#463548)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: Stewie

He has the power to move. His 'Don Quixote' album is my favourite, but more perhaps for nostalgic reasons than any startling intrinsic merit. Songs like 'Susan's Floor' are pretty basic stuff, but quite lovely all the same. I reckon his songbag holds a number pieces that will easily withstand the test of time.


16 May 01 - 10:22 AM (#463724)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: Erica Smith

I had a bar gig last night and, invoking this discussion thread, asked the crowd to reflect on this quintessential Canadian troubador. Then I played "Early Morning Rain" . . . you wouldn't believe how many random people came up to me afterward, so excited to rap about our friend Gord. Many even played frenzied air guitar, invoking the famous strains of Edmund Fitzgerald. Amazing.

hey jeffp, did you go to Bucknell? i'm a bison from '94.


16 May 01 - 10:39 AM (#463743)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: John Hardly

I can't think of a more natural songwriter. Rarely a tortured lyric, always an interesting melody over a surprising (for its day) accompaniment.

Coincidentally, I just found that "Cotton Jenny" makes a superb song with which to follow an instrumental "Hard Times" by Foster.

16 May 01 - 10:43 AM (#463750)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: Murray MacLeod

I have to join forces with Alex here and say that although I love almost all of Gordon Lightfoot's songs, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" is one of the most terminally boring songs I have ever heard. He is right, it is the "melody" for want of a better word, that induces somnolence.


16 May 01 - 10:46 AM (#463754)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: jeffp

No, Erica, I went to Juniata. We had a very long drive to go to that concert.


16 May 01 - 11:08 AM (#463782)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: GUEST,Miss`ippe

As we sat in a front porch swing, she tried to "Read My Mind" Love "In the Early Morning Rain" once upon a time as GL sang through the open window from a 33 in the Livingroom. I am so pleased to recall that fellow's tunes and voice while reading this thread. Thanks Mudcat fans!

16 May 01 - 11:12 AM (#463785)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: Tedham Porterhouse

Gord's facial paralysis is not from a stroke, he has a condition called Bell's Palsy.

He did not write the song "I Used To Be A Country Singer" that's attributed to him in one of the posts in this thread. He credits it to (McEown) on his recording of it.

16 May 01 - 12:50 PM (#463898)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: GUEST,mkebenn@work

Alex, it's a dirge, it's supposed to be "boring" Mike

16 May 01 - 01:29 PM (#463963)
Subject: Lyr Add: PRIDE OF MAN (Hamilton Camp)^^^
From: Lonesome EJ

Gordon covered the following song by Hamilton Camp on his Lightfoot album, and I've always found this an amazing song with striking apocalyptic imagery. Who was this Camp guy? Did he write any other tunes that were this memorable.

Pride of Man^^^
(Hamilton Camp)

Turn around go back down go back the way you came
Can't you see the flash of fire ten times brighter than the day
And behold the mighty city broken in the dust again
Oh God the pride of man broken in the dust again
Turn around go back down go back the way you came
Babylon is laid to waste Egypt's buried in her shame
Their mighty men are beaten down the kings are fallen in the ways
Oh God the pride of man broken in the dust again

Turn around go back down go back the way you came
Terror is on everyside though the leaders are dismayed
Those who put their faith in fire in fire their faith shall be repaid
Oh God the pride of man broken in the dust again

Turn around go back down go back the way you came
Shout a warning to the nations that the sword of god is raised
On Babylon that mighty city rich in treasure wide in fame
It shall cause thy towers to fall and make it be a pyre of flame
Oh God the pride of man broken in the dust again

Thou that dwell on many water rich in treasure wide in fame
Bow unto a god of gold thy pride of might shall be thy shame
Oh God the pride of man broken in the dust again

And only God can lead the people back into the faith again
Thy holy mountain be restored thy mercy on thy people Lord

16 May 01 - 01:46 PM (#463982)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: Tedham Porterhouse

Hamilton Camp was Bob Gibson's singing partner in the late-1950s and early-1960s. They made several albums as Gibson & Camp in those days and at least one reunion album, where they re-recorded their "At the Gate of Horn" album.

Hamilton also had several solo albums and became an actor in the 1970s.

At different points, he's also been known as Bob Camp and Hamid Hamilton Camp.

16 May 01 - 01:47 PM (#463983)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: jeffp

Leej, check out for some information about him. He describes himself as an "unreconstructed folk singer." Sounds like our kind of guy.

I remember "Pride of Man" from an old Quicksilver Messenger Service album. Great song. His web site says that Ian and Sylvia also covered it.


16 May 01 - 02:17 PM (#464003)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: Little Hawk

Yes, "I Used To Be A Country Singer" was written by another Orillia kid, Steve McEowen, who is a fine performer and songwriter in the same general mold as Lightfoot. Steve is one half of the local duo "Even Steven", consisting of himself on guitar and vocals and Steve Ayres on bass and back-up vocals.

Even Steven has performed all over southern and central Ontario for many years, and done one or two albums, and hosted a cable TV show out of Barrie, Ontario, on which I got to play a couple of times back in the mid-90's.

Steve McEowen has an excellent voice, rather like Gord's but with a slightly higher and less reverby sound, and is a great guitar player. You know these guys are good cos they make an actual living playing acoustic music! Yikes!

It was a nice break for Steve when Lightfoot recorded that song.

- LH

p.s. A lot of Lightfoot fans don't like Dylan, but both Dylan and Lightfoot are big fans of each other! How about that, eh? Lightfoot considers Dylan to be the finer songwriter. Dylan once said that when he hears a Gordon Lightfoot song he wants it "to go on forever". High praise. I gather from the reactions to Edmund Fitzgerald, some of you might say that that particular song almost does.... :-) I like it, cos I like the storyline.

16 May 01 - 06:52 PM (#464207)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: John Hardly

Lonesome EJ

That song and Kate Wolf's "These Times..." were the two songs that brought me back to buying and playing "folk" music. In Northern IN we are blessed with a very long running Folk/Bluegrass radio program. I used to tune in for jazz standards working at the wheel late nights.

Instead of the jazz, this (then) new program was coming on and early on I heard Tony Rice' version of "Pride of Man" and the KW song--my record collection has never been the same since.

Coincidentally, that radio program was where I also first heard the "Gate of Horn--Revisited"--my first knowing introduction to Bob Gibson&Hamilton Camp. you were being facetious about Camp, no?

16 May 01 - 07:08 PM (#464223)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: Murray MacLeod

I remember someone somewhere a long time ago telling me that Gordon Lightfoot really went the whole nine yards over the Edmund Fitzgerald, playing benefits for the families of the victims, getting really involved. No doubt there is somebody out here better qualified than I to reminisce on this, but it made me think at the time that the man must be the genuine article.

I still don't LIKE the song however. Sorry .....


16 May 01 - 07:34 PM (#464251)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: Lonesome EJ

Thanks for the info on Hamilton Camp folks. And John H, I really knew nothing at all about him.

16 May 01 - 08:30 PM (#464293)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: richlmo

I have always loved Lightfoot and never seen him live. "Ten Degrees and Getting Colder" is one of my favorite as well as, "In from the Forest." One of my favorite tapes, (its a compilation) is " Tony Rice Sings Gordon Lightfoot ". Those wonderful songs and that wonderful guitar. Rice's singing voice is so closely patterned after Gordon. " Go My Way " and "I'm Not Sayin'" are simply fantastic.

16 May 01 - 11:02 PM (#464369)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: GUEST,khandu

Don Quixote is one of my favorites, also. I saw him on "The Midnight Special" (Anyone recall that TV show). He began playing Don Quixote and the audience began to clap in time. Gordon shook his head and told them that they were messing up the song. I loved that. Obviously, to him, the song was the important thing.

I got a copy of his Greatest Hits. All of the songs were re-recordings of his earlier stuff. I preferred the original.

Exceptional writer, performer and musician.


16 May 01 - 11:14 PM (#464374)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: Murray MacLeod

I have a query here. A friend of mine from Scotland, (a performing folksinger) spent some time in Canada in the sixties and saw Gordon Lightfoot perform at least twice. Her recollection of his performances is that although she loved his songs, and his voice, as a performer he was "totally lacking in charisma". (Her words, not mine.)

Is her assessment accurate? Or did she just catch him on one or two off-days.?

Obviously, I have never seen him perform live, or I wouldn't be asking this. My charisma detector is infallible.


28 May 01 - 08:31 AM (#471683)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: vlmagee

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 . 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; 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 . 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.

28 May 01 - 10:13 AM (#471714)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: RichM

I have to agree with your friend's assessment, Murray. I've seen Lightfoot many many times. He is very stiff with the audience. Sometimes-- though this may be different now-- he has been surly and ungracious with both audience and band members.

Still, he has been a fantastic songwriter and that's enough for (and from) me!

28 May 01 - 11:26 AM (#471734)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: Peter T.

Hi Valerie, there are many, many fans of Gordon here (not just because there are lots of Canadians about). Apart from "Canadian Railroad Trilogy" (the greatest Canadian song ever written), I have always liked "Did She Mention My Name?" For some reason just the sound of it evokes every small town in Canada.

yours, Peter T.

28 May 01 - 12:09 PM (#471748)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: vlmagee

I too love both of those songs. Canadian Railroad Trilogy is my #1 favorite Lightfoot song. I went to my first concert because I loved Wreck (from radio airplay), and it is probably my #2 favorite still. I was shocked to discover that Lightfoot and not Peter Yarrow or Paul Stookey had written For Lovin' Me and Early Mornin' Rain, two of my favorite folk songs from the 60s. But when Lightfoot performed Trilogy, a song I had never heard before, time stood still. I have never been the same since that night. (My husband might not think that is such a good thing).

28 May 01 - 12:18 PM (#471755)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: vlmagee

Some comments on Lightfoot's demeanor in concert - then and now. The thing that many people don't realize is that even today - after some 40 years in the business - Lightfoot is very shy. He is also a very committed professional, and he starts almost every concert with a bit of nervousness and tension. When he says little, it is not because he is standoffish - and any fan who has had the privilege of speaking with him after a concert will attest to the fact that he is a very warm person. A fan speaking with Lightfoot for the first time is always amazed as how much like an old friend he is.

In recent years, he has definitely relaxed a lot more in concert, but there are many nights when he says little. But it isn't standoffishness. He is intense and committed, and the singing comes a lot easier than the between songs banter. But even on a relatively quiet night, you can usually pick up a lot about Lightfoot the man by listening carefully to what he does say.

I just put up a review of the Saturday Massey concert at my web site at . I think that if you read it, you will get some sense of what his concerts are like, and of what he is like as well.

28 May 01 - 12:38 PM (#471763)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: vlmagee

For anyone who is trying to reach my site, my domain name hosting service is down (for the first time), much to my dismay. However, you can also reach it at . That won't help anyone else but if you want to at it now you can use that ...

28 May 01 - 04:10 PM (#471843)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: Little Hawk

vlmagee - fascinating info! Thanks for joining in here and sharing it with us. I saw Lightfoot at Mariposa last year, and he did a meticulous and very friendly performance that was excellent throughout.

- LH

31 May 01 - 11:26 PM (#474170)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: Joy Bennett

Ok, so I'll finally jump in here -- I had the pleasure of meeting Gordon Lightfoot in the early 1970s (it was either 1972 or 72) at Lincoln Center in New York . Didn't hear him perform live again till the late 80s or early 90s - at carnegie Hall --

I love his music -- all those that have been mentioned here ( yes, love EF too - the story is dear to my heart) and some others not mentioned here like Approaching Lavender, Beautiful, Song for a Winter;s night and one of my all time favorites - Affair on 8th Avenue. I have two very old and used vinyl copies of Gord's Gold and the new cd which left off Affair on 8th Avenue (much to my dissappointment) - but of course I found it on another cd release (yesss!!!)

And if you ever log onto this site, thank you Gordon for all your wonderful music over the years. you inspired me to sing, made me laugh, cry, and helped me through the ups and downs of life.

Valerie -- I will check out your website. And thanks for having it.

07 Jun 01 - 07:59 AM (#478229)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: Joy Bennett


08 Jun 01 - 12:17 PM (#479267)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: vlmagee

Thank you Joy. I am sorry for not responding to your post earlier, but I couldn't think of anything to say other than "thanks", and "me too". My web site is a "labor of love", as you can see if you visit it.

As far as logging on to this site (Mudcat), or any site, I don't think our Gord is Internet savvy. He knows about it - the good and the bad - but last I knew, he didn't even have a computer at home. He does, however, have a sense of the wide following he has - and of the many people on the Internet who love his music and have been able to share that love with other people because of the Internet. There were about 70 of us as a group at his concerts in Toronto (and undoubtedly others that we didn't know). Most of us once thought we were the only one! As I said in my review of the Saturday concert, he dedicated a song to us - Sit Down Young Stranger. And the wonderful thing about it was that several of us had independently requested it!

I don't know how much the folks here want to talk about Lightfoot, but if you get me started I won't stop! Feel free to write me directly as well (e-mail address is at my web site).

PS: If you haven't discovered his boxed set yet (Songbook, Rhino Records, 1999), you are in for a real treat!

28 Jan 04 - 03:29 AM (#1103205)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull

nice thread.

28 Jan 04 - 04:05 AM (#1103224)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: Bo Vandenberg

I'm really grateful to Lightfoot for the dark hours where I've listened to his recordings and just wandered in his storytelling. I find it interesting that 'Pride of Man' came up because the lyrics of it often come to me. I've never heard anyone else sing it and I suspect they wouldn't be able to displace Gord's voice or sincerity.

He's a rare talent and I imagine a rare soul.

I can't think of another song as long as his railroad trilogy that I willingly listen to over and over.

He makes music that you want to share. It fills you up while giving you a story to tell, or perhaps puts your own life in a new light.

If you ever read this, Thank you Gord.

nice thread


28 Jan 04 - 04:56 AM (#1103248)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: open mike

There is a tribute album which has been released last year.
It is called Beautiful, and has some wonderful artists doing
Lightfoot songs. It is on Borealis records. check Borealis and northern blues reviews

28 Jan 04 - 05:39 AM (#1103260)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: GUEST,Strollin' Johnny

Gord's the Daddy! A lot of writers and performers owe a very great deal to his influence. It's sad that he seems to be perceived in the UK as being too 'Americanised' nowadays, at least that's how it appears, but drop one of his songs into a set and you can guarantee it'll get a good reception.

Undoubtedly one of the Superstars.

28 Jan 04 - 05:01 PM (#1103770)
Subject: RE: Thoughts on Gordon Lightfoot
From: Cluin

Grew up listening to Lightfoot and cut my teeth playing and singing his great songs. I owe him a lot, though I have never met him.