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.

Headstones cover Lightfoot's "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"

Few artists have seen their songs covered more than Gordon Lightfoot. But usually, it's the legendary singer-songwriter's tales of love and loss, of broken hearts and promises, that get reinterpreted. Rarely are his story songs offered a new spin by other performers. Now Canada's veteran punk-hard rock band Headstones have served up a feisty take on Lightfoot's famous shipwreck song. Over a driving beat and slashing guitars, Headstones frontman Hugh Dillon delivers an edgy account of the harrowing night that the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald sank on "the big lake they call Gitchie Gumee." The video of the song shows Dillon alone on a frozen lake and later the band performing on a barren windswept l...
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The parallel paths of Dylan and Lightfoot

Bob Dylan and Gordon Lightfoot have long been mutual admirers. The legendary singer-songwriters began moving in the same circles in 1964, after Lightfoot was signed to Groscourt Productions by Dylan's manager Albert Grossman. It wasn't long before Lightfoot, at Grossman's suggestion, recorded Dylan's "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues." Although it would be several years before Dylan returned the favour and cut his own version of "Early Morning Rain," the "Blowin' in the Wind" singer had already expressed his fondness for Lightfoot's "I'm Not Sayin'" and several of his other tunes.  In the summer of '65, Lightfoot and Dylan crossed paths at Grossman's house in Woodstock, New York (Lightfoot e...
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Gordon Lightfoot and Massey Hall

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 Ma...
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Movin' On: Lightfoot's love affair with trains

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...
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Nico sings Gord: The coolest Lightfoot cover of all

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...
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