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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Ecological Rock: Pop Musicians Sing Out to Save the Planet

It resembled the historic Live Aid concert of 1985: a global jukebox featuring some of the world's top musicians performing for a cause. And like the original world benefit for African famine relief, the event was broadcast to an audience expected in advance to number one billion viewers in more than 100 countries.Last Saturday's multinational concert, titled Our Common Future, also reflected the new activism in rock music by focusing on an urgent global issue: the environment. The performers included Elton John in Edinburgh, Diana Ross in London, Herbie Hancock and John Denver in New York City, Midnight Oil in Sydney, Sting in Rio de Janeiro, along with artists in Los Angeles, Norway, Tokyo...
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Mariposa Folk Festival - 60 years ago

Sixty years ago this week, an estimated 5,000 people flooded into tiny Orillia, Ontario to attend the first Mariposa Folk Festival. Here is an excerpt from Before the Gold Rush about that historic inaugural event: Sitting in neatly arranged rows of canvas chairs, a buttoned-down crowd of 2,000 watched the inaugural Mariposa unfold one August weekend in 1961. The audience, mostly university students from Toronto, had travelled to Orillia on the shores of Lake Couchiching to hear an all-Canadian line-up headed by Sylvia Fricker and Ian Tyson, whoʼd also donated his artistic skills to create the stylized orange sun that dominated the festivalʼs poster. On the opening Friday night, fol...
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Lightfoot, the Hawk and the Rolls-Royce

By the mid-1960s, Gordon Lightfoot was spending more and more time drinking and hanging out with Ian Tyson and Ronnie Hawkins. Bar crawls on Yonge Street weren’t always possible, since the three would often be working. But Hawkins, who pretty much had the run of Le Coq d’Or, kept the place open and made sure the club’s go-go dancers stuck around so he and his buddies could trade songs and party with the girls long after closing. Lightfoot had even written a wistful lament about one of the dancers, “Go Go Round,” which became a hit record for him in early 1967 and was ultimately featured on his album The Way I Feel. Friendship with Hawkins led Lightfoot to write another song. It all stem...
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Music Feature: Ian & Sylvia - Their Legend, Legacy and tale of The Lost Tapes

Most people know Ian and Sylvia by their signature songs—his “Four Strong Winds” and her “You Were On My Mind”—and think of them as the iconic Canadian folk duo of the early 1960s. But few beyond fans or aficionados are familiar with their fine subsequent solo work, or Sylvia’s with the wondrous Quartette. And fewer still are aware that the talented pair once pioneered the country-rock genre with their excellent band Great Speckled Bird. A superb new collection of live recordings should change all that. Produced by Danny Greenspoon, The Lost Tapes (Stony Plain Records) features 26 tracks recorded between 1971 and 1974, a time when Ian was hosting a popular weekly country music TV show (on wh...
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Toronto Songs: Ian Tyson's Marlborough Street Blues

When Ian Tyson arrived in Toronto in September 1958, the folk music scene didn’t exist. The coffeehouses hadn’t yet appeared in Yorkville. The city’s bohemian district consisted of a few ramshackle cafés and galleries along a tiny stretch of Gerrard Street, near Bay, that attracted colorful personalities and painters like Harold Town. All of that was about to change with the Folk Boom ignited by the Kingston Trio and its massive hit “Tom Dooley.” Tyson had hitchhiked his way East from the West Coast, where he’d graduated from the Vancouver School of Art. He was 25 years old. His life experience at that point largely amounted to riding bareback in rodeos and playing a little guitar in rockabi...
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