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Liner Notes: Murray McLauchlan - Anthology

Liner Notes: Murray McLauchlan - Anthology

The best songwriters are alchemists, wordsmiths whose magic transforms personal experiences into universal truths. For nearly 40 years, Murray McLauchlan has been performing lyrical sleights of hand, taking insights about himself and observations about the world around him and spinning them into songs that are both meaningful and memorable. His sensitive tales of growing up and growing old, his razor-sharp portraits of the downtown and the downtrodden and his wry depictions of love lost and love found are all gathered here. Taken as a whole, these 36 songs, including three previously unreleased tracks, represent a formidable body of work, one that places McLauchlan firmly in the forefront of Canada’s best songwriters.

In 1965, at the age of 17, McLauchlan left his suburban Toronto home and headed for the highway. With guitar in hand, he hitchhiked out to British Columbia, where he worked in sawmills, logging camps, picked fruit and rode freight trains. Upon his return several months later, McLauchlan said goodbye to his parents’ house for good. Instead of a farewell letter, he wrote “Child’s Song,” a coming-of-age number that perfectly captured the mixed emotions of leaving home. The moving ballad also launched his career when American folksinger Tom Rush covered both it and “Old Man’s Song,” McLauchlan’s stark ode to aging, on his critically acclaimed 1970 album.

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Liner Notes: Various artists - QSW The Rebel Zone

QSW: The Rebel ZoneToronto’s Queen Street, the portion running west from stately University to cosmopolitan Spadina, was originally a jumble of greasy spoons, barbershops and clothing stores. Owners lived above their shops, while children played on sidewalks. There were even a couple of watering holes that supplied the mostly Irish, Jewish and Eastern European locals with cold, cheap draft beer. By the late 1970s, those bars had become part of a fertile breeding ground, a creative hothouse of forceful protest, stylish adventure and uninhibited experimentation that produced an explosion of musical talent. In many ways, it paralleled the city’s fabled Yorkville scene of the previous decade, with a tight concentration of clubs that served as a launching pad for a generation of future stars.

The catalyst for change was the nearby Ontario College of Art. Drawn by the lure of affordable housing and restaurants serving inexpensive meals, students from the college began moving into the area, rubbing shoulders with the district’s working-class denizens. Soon, artist-run galleries, theatres and other performance spaces sprang up, while music quickly took over the taverns and the illegal, after-hours clubs that surreptitiously opened

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Liner Notes: Whiskey Howl - Whiskey Howl

Whiskey HowlCanadians have long had a love affair for the blues. In the 1970s, artists from Vancouver’s Powder Blues and Halifax’s Dutch Mason to Montreal’s Offenbach and Winnipeg’s Big Dave McLean thrilled audiences with their interpretations of the 12-bar form. The blues feeling has always been especially strong in Toronto, where a close proximity to Chicago and Detroit and regular appearances by major U.S. blues artists fostered a deep connection with the music. Three of Canada’s earliest and most successful blues groups hailed from Toronto and nearby Hamilton, including Downchild Blues Band, McKenna Mendelson Mainline and Crowbar with King Biscuit Boy. Into this blues-loving milieu came Whiskey Howl.

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Liner Notes: Ian & Sylvia – Movin’ On 1967-1968

IanSylviaMovinCatalysts of the folk boom, Canada’s Ian Tyson and Sylvia Fricker burst onto the scene in the early 1960s with a unique vocal sound. Sold-out concerts at Carnegie Hall. Headline appearances at the Newport and Mariposa festivals. Hit songs like the now-classic “Four Strong Winds” and “You Were On My Mind.” A real singing cowboy and a church organist’s daughter, Ian & Sylvia were one of the hottest acts around. But all of that changed in the mid-1960s when The Beatles and the British Invasion landed on North American shores. The folk boom suddenly went bust and everyone—including Ian’s mentor, a scruffy kid named Bob Dylan—began plugging in.

“The Beatles shut us down,” Ian recalled in his 1994 autobiography I Never Sold My Saddle. “It was over. Over! We were the hottest ticket in California for about a year and a half, and then I remember standing in a club, maybe the Troubador in Los Angeles, and the announcer was announcing the upcoming acts, and when he mentioned Ian & Sylvia some of the people booed. That quickly we had gone from the hippest thing around to being booed.”

Time to move on. But rather than follow the pack into pop—something the record label was pushing—Ian & Sylvia gravitated toward country. There had already been hints of it on most of the duo’s Vanguard albums: “Spanish is a Loving Tongue” on Four Strong

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