Gordon Lightfoot Book, Music and More!

The home of music journalist Nicholas Jennings, author of Lightfoot, the definitive new Gordon Lightfoot biography from Penguin Random House.

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What a tale his thoughts could tell - Lightfoot's melancholic first hit

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One of Gordon Lightfoot’s best-known songs was born out of a dying marriage. With its visions of wishing-well ghosts, movie queens and paperback novels, “If You Could Read My Mind” contains some of Lightfoot’s most vivid imagery. Emotionally, the lyrics stand out for their startling honesty. The words had poured out of him one afternoon in 1969, while sitting alone in an empty house. Baring his soul like never before, he’d written lines like “I don’t know where we went wrong, but the feeling’s gone and I just can’t get it back.” There was little doubt it was about his broken marriage. The words “heroes often fail” suggest he blamed himself for its demise, but the phrase “chains upon my feet”...
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1968: The year of Lightfoot’s U.S. breakthrough

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Gordon Lightfoot became a star at home during Canada’s centennial year. South of the border, he was still mostly known as the composer of hits for others, including Marty Robbins and Peter, Paul and Mary. All that changed in 1968. Why it didn’t happen earlier had a lot to do with the delayed release of the Canadian artist’s debut album, Lightfoot! Although recorded late in 1964, it didn’t appear until over a year later, by which time the folk boom had largely gone bust, thanks to the twin forces of the Beatles and an electrified Bob Dylan. Lightfoot was working hard at playing catch up, releasing The Way I Feel and touring relentlessly throughout ’67. By early the following year, the tide wa...
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1036 Hits

There was a time in this fair land - Lightfoot's Trilogy

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It is the most patriotic of all his songs, a three-part epic that recounts the construction of a nation-spanning railway, describes the stark beauty of a country’s landscape and tells of the human toil it took to build the “iron road runnin’ from the sea to the sea.” And yet Gordon Lightfoot’s “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” managed to resonate with listeners on both sides of the 49 th parallel when it was released 50 years ago. Appearing on Lightfoot’s 1967 album The Way I Feel , the “Trilogy” was instantly embraced by Canadians already deep into celebrating their country’s 100 th anniversary. But Americans somehow connected with the song as well. When Lightfoot launched into the robust ballad ...
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Music Review: Gord Downie - Introduce Yerself

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Last summer, Canada tuned in to watch the Tragically Hip’s last concert and bid adieu to its charismatic poetic frontman. Now Gord says goodbye with this poignant collection of 23 deeply personal songs. Like David Bowie’s and Leonard Cohen’s final recordings, the album is almost unbearably sad and made more powerful because the artist knew the end was coming. “Each song is about a person,” Gord explained before his death from brain cancer on Oct. 17. Some numbers are love letters to childhood buddies, former girlfriends and his bandmates in the Hip. “Bedtime,” a tender piano lullaby, describes the nightly ritual of putting one of his four children to sleep. “You and Me and the B’s,” with per...
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316 Hits

The Ballad of Ochs and Lightfoot

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Gordon Lightfoot first came to prominence during the folk boom of the 1960s. On a tip from his friends Ian & Sylvia, Lightfoot was signed by their manager Albert Grossman, the Greenwich Village impresario who also handled the careers of Odetta and Bob Dylan. Right away, Lightfoot found his songs covered and turned into hits by the likes of Peter, Paul & Mary and Marty Robbins. From then on, Lightfoot’s compositions appeared on hundreds of albums by other artists, including Dylan, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Nico, Fairport Convention, the Grateful Dead and, later, the Replacements, Paul Weller, Mary Margaret O’Hara, the Dandy Warhols, Billy Bragg and Neil Young. Travelling the folk cl...
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Gordon Lightfoot - Before he went solo

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Before he became the quintessential troubadour and one of the world’s greatest singer-songwriters, composer of such classics as “Early Morning Rain,” “If You Could Read My Mind, “Sundown” and “Carefree Highway,” Gordon Lightfoot sang in a fledgling pop duo called the Two Tones. Together with Terry Whelan, a high school classmate from Orillia, Lightfoot started out first in a 1950s barbershop quartet called the Teen Timers. When the quartet broke up, he and Whelan formed a teenage duo that they initially called the Two Timers, a roguish variation on the former group’s name. Dressed in suits with slicked-back hair, the Two Timers fancied themselves an Everly Brothers-style act. With Lightfoot ...
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Lightfoot - out today

Jennings and Lightfoot, 2016. Photo by Light Monkey.
Today is the day. Many years in the works. Months of digging in newspaper and magazine archives. Countless hours interviewing, even more transcribing. Endless scanning of photographs and documents. And then the writing and rewriting, trying to make sense of the material and shape it into a readable story that hopefully does justice to a complicated man, his extraordinary life and rich body of work. It's been daunting, but I'm thrilled that my biography of Gordon Lightfoot is now out in the world, available wherever good books are sold as they say. Ultimately, I'm proud to be associated with a great artist whose music I've known and loved since childhood.
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