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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Obituaries, Books

Tom Waits - Rain Dogs

Los Angeles singer Tom Waits has always viewed his favorite denizens of the night with a charming romanticism. But with Rain Dogs Waits’s derelict characters have taken on gritty, three-dimensional life. On "Cemetery Polka" a sad accordion and rude trombone flesh out his vivid portrait of a wildly eccentric family. And the tinkling, aimless piano in "Tango Till They’re Sore" is well suited to the rambling imagination of the song’s narrator. But Waits is most coherent when he sticks to shattered dreams and tin-can sounds of alleyways. On several songs he uses makeshift percussion instruments to create a kind of hobo’s orchestra. His gift for idioms has always been impressive, but now, with a ...

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  533 Hits

Joni Mitchell - Dog Eat Dog

Joni Mitchell’s last album, Wild Things Run Fast, reflected the maturity of a woman who had chased away her romantic demons. Now, Dog Eat Dog, her first release in three years, reveals that the 42-year-old musician has experienced a political awakening. The 10 new songs, which tackle such subjects as corporate greed, African famine and right-wing evangelism, may alienate her loyal listeners. But with its clever pop arrangements and engaging vocals, the album includes some of Mitchell’s most exuberant work in years. On the playfully syncopated title track she decries the “prime-time crime” of “bigwig financiers,” while in "Tax Free" actor Rod Steiger impersonates a raving evangelist who warns...

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From the Vaults: Kate and Anna McGarrigle's historic first recordings

Several years ago, I was contacted by a Montreal man named Peter Weldon who asked if I’d like to hear an unreleased 1969 recording of Kate and Anna McGarrigle’s original folk group, the Mountain City Four, singing the music of Wade Hemsworth with the composer himself. Absolutely, I told Weldon. I’d long loved Hemsworth’s songs and was excited to hear anything unreleased that included the wondrous McGarrigles. The Mountain City Four had begun when Weldon and another musician, Jack Nissenson, recruited the younger McGarrigle sisters to join them in song (I have a personal connection with Nissenson, but more on that later). Soon, the MC4 were packing coffeehouses as stars of Montreal’s burgeoni...

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Words & Music cover stories

A sampling of cover stories written for Words & Music magazine between 2002 and 2014.

  531 Hits

Inside Entertainment cover stories

Cover stories written for Inside Entertainment magazine between 2002 and 2007.

  587 Hits

Maclean's cover stories

Cover stories written for Maclean's magazine between 1987 and 2000.

  479 Hits

Don Cullen: Bohemian Embassy ‘Ambassador’ Nurtured Talents of Fellow Artists

Creative versatility came naturally to Don Cullen. Writer, actor, comedian, producer and impresario, he could apparently do it all. His talents first surfaced at high school, where Mr. Cullen’s flexible physical features and talent for vocal impersonations made him popular with his classmates. “I became the funny kid,” he once recalled, “by capitalizing on the angularity of my frame and the rubbery quality of my face.”  Mr. Cullen took those attributes onto the stage and across the airwaves, voicing more than 1,500 radio programs and appearing in nearly as many theatrical reviews and television shows. He starred in a production of Beyond the Fringe which was performed more tha...

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  1034 Hits

Ronnie Hawkins - Last of the Good Ol' Boys

He was such a good ol’ boy, a teller of such tall tales and the master of so many self-deprecating one-liners it was often easy not to take Ronnie Hawkins too seriously. “I’m a legend in my spare time,” he liked to quip. Calling himself the “Geritol Gypsy,” he claimed to have been playing rockabilly “since the Dead Sea was only sick.” But when the veteran singer-bandleader – for whom the “big time” was always “just around the corner” – died on Sunday, the entertainment world mourned the loss of a bona fide legend whose greatest legacy was his mentoring of some of Canada’s finest musical stars. Mr. Hawkins was born in Huntsville, Ark., on Jan. 10, 1935 and studied physical education at the st...

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Eurythmics - A musical marriage at the top of pop

A metamorphosis is under way. A face, seemingly made of candle wax, takes shape beneath a flickering flame. It is Annie Lennox, provocative singer of Eurythmics, the British pop duo. Then, the video for Eurythmics’ latest single, “Missionary Man,” turns more sinister, with a scene in which a dark figure — Dave Stewart, the duo’s other half—is seen cooking potions in a laboratory. The video cuts back to Lennox’s face, now helplessly harnessed to a set of mechanical devices— communicating a strong message of struggle against others’ attempts at control. For Lennox and Stewart, veterans of contractual disputes with record and management companies, that message has special resonance. The pair ha...

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  1618 Hits

Flying high with John Kay and the Sparrows

John Kay was a German-born singer who was playing folk-blues guitar and harmonica at Yorkville’s Half Beat and crashing above the Night Owl in an apartment belonging to Vicky Taylor, Joni Mitchellʼs ex-room-mate. One night in 1965, during an after-hours jam session above the Half Beat, some of the Sparrows came up, heard Kay and joined in. They loved Kayʼs bluesy edge and later suggested he drop by the Devilʼs Den and play some harmonica. The Sparrows then asked Kay to join—but not without a makeover.  According to Jerry Edmonton, Kayʼs hair, for one thing, didnʼt look right. “It was all slicked back. He looked more like James Dean, black hair, greasy and combed back. He was a bit pudgy...

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  1018 Hits