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.

Oscar Peterson’s pioneering Toronto jazz school

Oscar Peterson is remembered as a gifted pianist who could play it all, from Chopin and Liszt to blues, stride, boogie and beyond. Peterson led his own jazz trios, performed with such legendary figures as Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong, who dubbed him “the man with four hands,” won eight Grammy Awards and Canada’s prestigious Glenn Gould Prize. Called the "Maharaja of the keyboard" by Duke Ellington, he released over 200 recordings before his death in 2007, including his 1956 Stratford Festival recording, 1958’s On the Town, recorded at Toronto’s Town Tavern, and 1962’s Night Train, which featured a number of Ellington pieces a...

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Toronto Songs: Murray McLauchlan's "Down By the Henry Moore"

 Murray McLauchlan moved downtown and never looked back. Armed with a guitar and a backpack, he ran away from home at the age of 17 and headed straight to Yorkville. He wound up crashing at the Village Corner coffeehouse, sleeping on a mattress in the basement and soaking up the sounds of guitarists like Amos Garrett and Jim McCarthy and folksingers including Al Cromwell and Elyse Weinberg. The Village Corner had been the place where artists like Ian & Sylvia, Gordon Lightfoot, David Wiffen and Bonnie Dobson all got their start.   The son of a trade unionist, McLauchlan developed an artistic flair while attending Central Technical School, where he took classes from renowned Can...

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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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Toronto Songs: Neil Young's "Ambulance Blues"

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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Drake - If You’re Reading This, It's Too Late

The sensitive rapper toughens up on his latest. “I’ve got enemies,” he admits on “Energy.” Drake then takes shots at his adversaries on dark tracks like “No Tellin’” and “Used To.” But his vulnerability shines through on “You and the 6,” where he confesses that his mother and his hometown of Toronto “raised me right.”

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