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.

Blog Post: Gordon Lightfoot and Massey Hall

GordonLightfootMassey-Mar67-smaller March 1967
No single artist is more closely connected to Massey Hall than Gordon Lightfoot. Beginning in 1951 and ’52, as a pre-teen with his first place wins in two Kiwanis Festival singing competitions, Lightfoot has made over 165 appearances (and counting) on its hallowed stage. The Orillia native returned in ’55 with his Teen Timers quartet to take second prize in a barbershop singing contest. Lightfoot’s first concert as a featured singer-songwriter came in March 1967, which one critic described as a “country-and-Lightfoot parade of Canadiana.” Two years later, Canada’s folk star recorded his first live album there, Sunday Concert (his second was 2012’s All Live , drawn from material recorded at M...
Continue reading
  782 Hits

Movin' On: Lightfoot's love affair with trains

Lightfoot-railway-tracks-70s-JohnReeves-copy
Gordon Lightfoot has always been fascinated by big mechanical things like trains and boats and planes, and man’s relationship to them. Three of his most famous songs, “Early Morning Rain,” “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” deal in the romance and tragedy of human interaction with the machinery of those forms of transportation. Personal and poetic, “Early Morning Rain” expressed a palpable longing while expertly contrasting the rural past and urban present in one brilliant line about freight trains and jet planes. Lightfoot placed himself directly in the story, summoning his own experience of travel and homesickness for inspiration. His memories of big 707s...
Continue reading
  961 Hits

Nico sings Gord: The coolest Lightfoot cover of all

GordNico-1
Gordon Lightfoot has had some remarkable artists record his songs. Elvis Presley, Judy Collins and Bob Dylan have all lent their distinctive voices to “Early Morning Rain” and Barbara Streisand, Johnny Cash and Diana Krall have each interpreted “If You Could Read My Mind.” “Sundown,” meanwhile, has been given wildly varied punk and hip-hop treatments by acts such as Elwood and Clawhammer. But the Lightfoot song that has attracted by far the coolest attention has been “I’m Not Sayin.’” For that, credit goes to the German-born chanteuse Nico, later of Velvet Underground fame. The influence of her 1965 version, with production and guitar accompaniment by the Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones and futu...
Continue reading
  16741 Hits

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

IYCRMM-copy-_20180108-202350_1
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”...
Continue reading
  28476 Hits

1968: The year of Lightfoot’s U.S. breakthrough

Toronto_Life_June_1968-1
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...
Continue reading
  2217 Hits