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.

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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Neil Young - Le Noise

A man and his guitar. Canada’s iconic rocker has been proving the power of that simple combination for half a century. Young’s latest is a testament to just how much feeling, meaning and, yes, noise he can draw from his instrument. Recorded without percussion, keyboards or strings (but with plenty of sonic effects from producer and fellow Canadian Daniel Lanois), the album’s standout tracks range from the raw “Walk with Me” and the ornery “Angry World” to the gorgeous, Spanish-tinged confessional “Love and War.”

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Tony Quarrington - Songs of Remembrance

Not many contemporary artists have written and recorded memorable songs about the First World War, the horrific 1914-1918 conflict that killed nine million soldiers and 13 million civilians. One of the best is Australian folksinger Eric Bogle’s ballad “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda,” as covered by the Pogues on their 1984 album Red Roses for Me. Toronto’s Tony Quarrington has recorded an entire album of original WW1 songs called For King and Country: Canada in the Great War and many are well worth hearing. It takes listeners through the experiences of Canadians during the war, in the trenches and on the home front. There are songs about Winnipeg flying ace Alan McLeod (...

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Ray Materick - Coming into focus

The photographer was posing Ray Materick, his band and some promotion types for a casual group shot in the dressing room of Toronto's El Mocambo. They sat themselves around a table strewn with cigarette butts, guitar picks and a half-drained 40 ouncer of whiskey, waiting to be focused. Materick and his musicians had just finished a well-received first set downstairs and now, on cue, everyone began hamming it up for the benefit of the camera. “Just one more,” promised the photographer. Ironically, the walls behind them sported a colourful collage of assorted rock star faces. All the most successful performers, the Lightfoots, the McLauchlans and the Dylans were up there, staring out from the ...

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Music Review: The Neville Brothers - Yellow Moon

Steeped in voodoo lore, New Orleans has a reputation for casting a spell on visitors. Known to its residents as “the Big Easy,” the city has a tropical climate and a French and Spanish colonial history that give it an atmosphere unique in North America. Tourists are charmed by its annual Mardi Gras festivities and its world-famous Cajun cuisine. But for many people, music provides the city’s most potent magic. Although it has long been associated with such traditional styles as Dixieland, New Orleans also produced some of the liveliest rhythm and blues of the 1950s. Later, its musicians provided rock ‘n’ roll with exotic flavorings. Now, the city is experiencing a musical boom that extends f...

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