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.

New York: If you can make it there....

The Paupers in Central Park - photo by Linda Eastman
Canadian musicians have always flocked to New York, drawn like moths to the bright lights of the city that never sleeps. Dreams of a breakthrough in New York have inspired artists ever since Toronto vocal groups the Crew-Cuts, the Four Lads and the Diamonds all had success there, followed by Ottawa teenager Paul Anka, who ventured to the Big Apple in 1957 and scored a number one hit with "Diana," his lovestruck ode to a former babysitter. The steady stream continued during the folk boom. In November, 1965, Ian & Sylvia performed at New York's prestigious Philharmonic Hall while Gordon Lightfoot played a few days later just down Broadway Avenue at the Town Hall. Both folk acts became regu...
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The Band, a marijuana bust and the Ed Sullivan Show

Levon and the Hawks to the Band on Ed Sullivan
In early 1965, Toronto's Levon & the Hawks were having a hard time with the law. Levon Helm, Robbie Robertson, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko and Richard Manuel, along with their road manager Bill Avis, were charged with possession of marijuana, after being arrested at Toronto's airport by RCMP officers. With bail set at $10,000 apiece and a court case likely to drag on for months, the pot bust threatened to detrail the momentum of the group that would soon become world famous as the Band. The charges were all a set up. A jealous boyfriend of a girl Danko was seeing told the cops that the group was smuggling in a trunkful of pot into Canada. In fact, Danko had an ounce of Panama Red in his jac...
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Toronto Songs: Gordon Lightfoot's On Yonge Street

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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Book: Lightfoot

Lightfoot-paperback-frontcvr
Details: Author: Nicholas Jennings; Hardciover/Paperback: 327 pages; Publisher: Penguin Random House; 2017/2018; Language: English; ISBN: 978-0-14-319920-5 Book Description from Amazon The definitive, full-access story of the life and songs of Canada's legendary troubadour Gordon Lightfoot’s name is synonymous with timeless songs about trains and shipwrecks, rivers and highways, lovers and loneliness. His music defined the folk-pop sound of the 1960s and ‘70s, topped charts and sold millions. He is unquestionably Canada’s greatest songwriter, and an international star who has performed on the world’s biggest stages. While Lightfoot’s songs are well known, the man behind them is elusive. He’s...
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Toronto Songs: Neil Young's Ambulance Blues

Four-to-Go Neil Young (left) with Four to Go's Ken Koblum and Geordie McDonald
Neil Young returned to the city of his birth in 1965, determined to break into Toronto’s flourishing music scene. He’d arrived with his Winnipeg group, the Squires, but their new folk-rock sound fell on deaf ears. Even changing their name to Four to Go failed to make a difference. So Young parted ways with his bandmates and launched himself as a solo folksinger. Before leaving Winnipeg, Young had become enamored of Bob Dylan’s music and taught himself to play “Four Strong Winds,” Ian Tyson’s Canada-referencing response to “Blowin’ in the Wind.” He’d also encountered Joni Mitchell, who was performing at the Fourth Dimension coffeehouse with her husband. After the show, Young went up to Joni, ...
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