When discussing popular music and musicians, one can have many theories about longevity and success. It’s hard to quantify what works and what doesn’t. Good looks, compelling charisma, raw musical talent, and even having a troubled relationship with ones family are often cited as reasons but to focus on the performer is to miss the obvious; the song itself.
Canada has produced many great songwriters, an arguably disproportionate number actually, but none have stood the test of time quite like Gordon Lightfoot. Now in the sixth decade of his career, he celebrated his 80th birthday on November 17th of last year with a special hometown show in Orillia, Ontario.
“I’ve known his since the 1960’s,” says close friend and concert promoter B.C. Fiedler. “Gordon plays all over the world but he loves to play close to home, these shows are special to him”
In addition to playing at the Georgian Theatre on April 8th, Lightfoot is making a point of hitting some smaller Southern Ontario venues this April.
“He still loves to play to an intimate audience,” says Fiedler.
It’s not entirely clear where Lightfoot’s gift for songwriting came from, but somewhere between studying abroad at the Westlake College of Music in California and returning home to perform his original compositions at the Riverboat Coffee House in Toronto’s Yorkville district, something special had begun.
His debut album Lightfoot! was released in 1966 and songs like For Lovin’ Me, Early Morning Rain, Steel Rail Blues and Ribbon of Darkness brought him international recognition as a songwriter. Soon, his songs were recorded by artists such as Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Barbara Streisand, Johnny Cash, and countless others.
By 1971, Lightfoot had earned his first Top Ten hit when If You Could Read My Mind became and international sensation. In 1974, his classic single Sundown, went to No. 1 on the American charts, followed two years later by The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, inspired by a Newsweek magazine article; it reached No. 2 on the U.S. Billboard charts.
“It’s his songs,” says Fiedler. “When you’ve got songs like this, what else do you need?”
He released his 20th album, Harmony, in 2004, and his iconic Massey Hall residencies have been immortalized with the release of his most recent album Massey Hall Moments – All Live, a collection of live recordings of his finest Massey Hall performances, recorded between 1998 and 2001
Along the way, his songs have seen him garner 15 Juno Awards, 5 Grammy nominations, an induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, and inductions into both the Canadian and U.S. Songwriters Halls of Fame. Appropriately, Lightfoot was awarded Canada’s highest civilian honour in 2003, when he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada.
Still, because true musicians live to make music, Lightfoot performs between 50 and 80 concerts every year throughout the U.S. and Canada. Backed by a full band, including drums, bass, keyboards and lead guitar, he remains hard at work bringing music to his audience.
“I’ve seen Gordon perform hundreds of times,” says Fiedler. “Without a doubt, these last few years with this band in particular, are some of his greatest shows of all time.”
Gordon Lightfoot plays the Georgian Theatre on April 8th.
Tickets are available by calling 705-739-4228 or by clicking here.