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.

Gordon Lightfoot: The Canadian bard wrote the tunes for a nation's identity

More than any other singer-songwriter, Gordon Lightfoot personified Canada. His robust songs about winter nights, morning rain, being bound for Alberta and sailing on Ontario’s Georgian Bay came closest to expressing for many Canadians the essence of life in the Great White North. Historical epics stood alongside romantic ballads. Author Pierre Berton once said that Lightfoot’s “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” conveyed as much about the building of the national railway as his own best-selling book on the subject. When Lightfoot died Monday evening at the age of 84, leaving a vast legacy of more than 500 songs, Canada lost a masterful composer, a distinctive vocalist and one of its ...

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Bob Dylan's triumphant return to Massey Hall

A master of reinvention, Bob Dylan is never content to play a song the same way twice. Last night at Massey Hall, the self declared song-and-dance man entertained with interpretations of numbers drawn from his own back pages (with the exception of a Grateful Dead cover and an American Songbook standard) that rendered them virtually unrecognizable. Sometimes this was a thrilling novelty, with a hatted Dylan standing behind a grand piano and belting out a bluesy, saloon-style rendition of “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” like an less frenzied Jerry Lee Lewis. At other times, it was a frustrating mystery. Trying to identify a song by lyric wasn’t always possible because of Dylan’s chronic case of mu...

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Robbie Robertson - Songs of a native son

Stepping off a Greyhound bus from Toronto in 1961, a 17-year-old boy found himself in West Helena, Ark., by the banks of the Mississippi River, unable to believe his senses. “It smelled different and moved different,” Robbie Robertson recently recalled. “The people talked and dressed different. And the air was filled with thick and funky music.” The experience left an indelible impression on the budding guitarist and songwriter. Years later, Robertson drew on it to write some of rock’s most evocative songs—including “Up on Cripple Creek” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” And he performed them with his group, The Band, which critic Greil Marcus has called “the best rock ’n’ roll band...

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Toronto Songs: Gordon Lightfoot's "On Yonge Street"

Gordon Lightfoot got his start on Yonge Street, not in Yorkville. Although the bard of Canadian song is often associated with Yorkville’s Riverboat coffeehouse, where he first became a star while performing weeklong stints in the mid-1960s, his first real home as a solo artist was Steele’s Tavern, at 349 Yonge. A two-storey operation run by Greek restaurateur Steele Basil, Steele’s was sandwiched between Yonge Street’s famously competitive record stores: Sam’s and A&A’s. There, in the upstairs Venetian Lounge, Lightfoot performed his songs for anyone who would listen, often competing with the clink of beer glasses and televised hockey games for people’s attention. Lightfoot had traveled ...

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Jakob Dylan - Women & Country

Jakob Dylan has forged a musical career in the shadow of his celebrity dad. The youngest of four children born to Bob Dylan and his ex-wife Sara, Jakob found comfort—if not anonymity—as a member of the Wallflowers, rockers whose 1996 album, Bringing Down the Horse, produced three Top 40 singles, won two Grammy Awards and sold four million copies. During that time, interview questions about his famous father were strictly off limits. Two years ago, Jakob invited parental comparison when he released Seeing Things, his folky solo debut. Now he has released the fine Women & Country. “Some of the things I’ve done, I’m educated enough to know it’s not necessarily the kind of music he always re...

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