Welcome to my Gordon Lightfoot fan site. Most of this web site is devoted to singer/songwriter Gordon Lightfoot, including a biography, tour schedule, lyrics, and information on all the available (and not available) albums, as well as the latest news. My love of Lightfoot's music led me to discover many other wonderful folk musicians, and I include some articles about them, mostly in the Folk Notes column. One of them, Bob Gibson, influenced Lightfoot's 12 string guitar playing and the song structure for one of his most famous songs, Canadian Railroad Trilogy. Another, singer/songwriter Steve Gillette, wrote a song called Darcy Farrow (video), that Lightfoot performed very early in his career.
All of these folk musicians write and play music that I enjoy, and that I think you will enjoy too. See the list at the right for quick links to articles about them.
Join my Mailing List for occasional newsletters and announcements. Mailings are at the rate of approximately one a month, unless you request "ALL" messages in which case you will also get periodic concert updates about concerts around the country. And, if you are into social media, you can follow my Twitter accout, @LightfootMusic, Friend me on Facebook, and join my Gordon Lightfoot Fan Club on Facebook.
As I always like to say, Steve Gillette & Cindy Mangsen are not Gordon Lightfoot, but I really think you would enjoy them as much as I do. I have found that most Lightfoot fans share the same tastes in music, so I am sharing one of my favorites with you.
I can not say enough about how excellent the pair are as a duo, while their individual talents stand on their own. Steve is well known as a songwriter, whose songs have been recorded by artists like John Denver, Garth Brooks, Nanci Griffith, Ian & Sylvia, Waylon Jennings, The Kingston Trio, Anne Murray, Linda Ronstadt, Kenny Rogers, Tammy Wynette, Josh Ritter and others. You will recognize many of the songs when Steve sings them; he is a wonderful guitar player with a unique style, and a superb vocalist as well. Some of his best known songs are Darcy Farrow, Bed of Roses, Glass Houses, (That Song About) The River, and Back on the Street Again. Gordon Lightfoot performed Darcy Farrow on stage in the 1960s, but never recorded it (too bad!). If you click the play button in the image above, you'll see Steve & Cindy perform Bed of Roses, or click the following link to see them perform my favorite, Darcy Farrow. Bed of Roses is another of Steve's wonderful songs, a beautiful love song, recorded by Kenny Rogers.
Cindy is a wonderful vocalist, who performs both her own songs and traditional songs, and accompanies herself on guitar, banjo, concertina, or mountain dulcimer. Her harmonies on Steve's songs are beautiful. Here's a clip of Cindy performing a stirring renditioin of the Child Ballad, The Two Sisters.
Their web site is at compassrosemusic.com; listen to clips from Cindy's latest CD here (cat lovers take note!), and their latest duo CD, Berrymania, here. Also, listen to clips from their live CD, Live In Concert, which includes their beautiful renditions of many of Steve's most well known songs, including both Darcy Farrow and Bed of Roses.
Live In Concert also contains many of the other songs Steve wrote which were hits for major recording artists; songs like "Grapes on the Vine", "Glass Houses", "The Old Trail", "(That Song About) The River", and "Crying Don't Even Come Close", as well as Cindy performing a number of beautiful traditional songs.
Finally, for the songwriters out there, Steve wrote a book on songwriting, called "Songwriting and the Creative Process".
It includes detailed chapters on music theory, melody, harmony, rhythm, song critique, poetic principles, alliteration, titles, hooks, collaboration, creativity, writer's block, left brain and right brain, social issues, publishing, and surviving in the music industry - pretty much everything you need to know, from one of the most talented songwriters out there. Also included are articles and interviews with Graham Nash, Tom Paxton, Len Chandler, Fred Koller, Butch Hancock, Mary McCaslin, Michael Smith, Lou & Peter Berryman, Bob Franke, Nancy White and many others. The book is available from Steve's website "Songwriting and the Creative Process". And, to get you started, Steve has posted excerpts from the book on his website here: Songwriting Tutorial.
Steve & Cindy just released another new duet album, Berrymania, This CD is a tribute to their friends and fellow musicians, Lou and Peter Berryman, and includes 14 of Steve & Cindy's favorite Berryman songs. The Berrymans - once married, but still going strong as a musical duo - write clever and funny songs, and Steve & Cindy have recorded stunning versions. The CD is available in their online store here: Steve Gillette & Cindy Mangsen, Berrymania.
Last updated 7/15/2012 -
Steve & Cindy released a stunning new duet album, Home by Dark, in early 2012. Their Caffè Lena gig in Saratoga Springs on January 7th was their CD Release Concert, and the room was sold out. Like their earlier duet albums, and their live concerts, the new CD is a mixture of original songs, covers of artists they admire, and traditional tunes. As always, the musicianship is top notch, the tunes catchy, and the lyrics clever. I played the CD almost continuously on my eastbound and westbound trips between Denver and Saratoga Springs, and have fallen in love with it. The title song, Home By Dark, as well as Holy Smoke, California Zephyr, Seal Harbor (be prepared to cry), and Two Sisters are my early favorites. The CD is available in their online store here: Steve Gillette & Cindy Mangsen, Home By Dark.
In 2010, in a departure from his pure folk and country roots, but much in keeping with his encyclopedic knowledge of music, Steve released The Man, a CD complete with narrative and music, telling the story of the fictional Danny Morrow and drawing from roots jazz, folk, and blues.
Most of the songs are from the 1930s, perfect for Steve's story, which mixes fictional characters with real people, while artfully taking the listener back to those times. Added to the old classics are two new Steve Gillette originals, which fit seamlessly. The CD was inspired by his father's stride piano playing, which is heard on many cuts; the same musical influence that helped inspire the way he, Steve, plays guitar.
Watch Steve & Cindy perform Harburg & Gorney's, "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" live in concert, in the video just below. "Brother," is one of the songs on the CD.
Being There includes new originals, some traditional tunes, and a number of covers of other artists they admire. Just like their concerts, the CD displays their many talents, both in original music and lyrics, and in new interpretations of songs of others. Steve and Cindy's vocals and musicianship don't disappoint and the new originals are gems.
The first cut, and one of my favorite Steve songs, is "Hurricane," about the terrible hurricane of 1935 that took nearly two thousand lives, and destroyed the railroad once described as the "eighth wonder of the world." For those of you who, like me, like story songs or train songs, here is one that ranks up there with the very best.
You can listen to a clip of the song here. You can listen to clips of all the songs on the CD on the Being There web page.
Cat Tales CD: A Great Gift Idea for Cat Lovers
Late in 2005, Cindy released her most recent solo CD called Cat Tales, all about one of my favorite subjects: cats! This is a CD made up entirely of cat songs! Cindy's creativity and wit, combined with outstanding musicianship, will make this CD a sure hit - and maybe a clever gift for a cat lover friend or relative. My favorite song in the CD is one of Cindy's originals: Rudy's Big Adventure, a true story - with a happy ending - about a cat that gets his head caught in a garbage disposal. Click here to listen to a RealMedia clip. There are clips of most of the other songs on the CD on the Cat Tales web page, so take a look and a listen to a great cat lovers gift.
The Brothers Four were pioneers of the "folk revival"; of the few groups from those times still performing today, they remain one of the best known and most popular. Their all-acoustic presentation consists of guitars, banjo, mandolin, upright bass, and of course the trademark rich blend of their four voices. Visit their new online store here: The Brothers Four. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to run their online store for them.
They have just released a new CD: "The Beautiful World of The Brothers Four", a 19 track disc including two medleys. As a follow-up to their stellar 2010 release, "Golden Anniversary", which has 20 tracks (and 3 medleys), it is amazing to note that there are only a few songs that appear on both collections, yet all are well loved songs from their huge performing catalogue. Both CDs can be purchased from their new online store here: The Brothers Four Online Store. Visit the store for the full track listings, and to listen to clips; there are clips of all the songs on "Golden Anniversary" now; I'll make clips for other CDs as soon as I can.
June, 2014 - Saratoga Springs singer/songwriter Michael Jerling released a new album of original songs, Halfway Home in late December 2013. It is his seventh CD, and his first album of all original songs since 2007's Crooken Path. Michael is a wonderful songwriter and talented musician, and a good friend, and I urge you to check out this excellent new album. There are clips at his web site, and you can buy this CD, or any of his other recent CDs at his online store at Fool's Hill Music, where he sells his own music and that of other singer/songwriter friends. And, starting with this album, FHM now sells downloads as well! Check it out here.
Michael Jerling Live Album
September, 2009, updated 1/10 - Saratoga Springs singer/songwriter Michael Jerling has released his first live CD, Music Here Tonight. It is his sixth CD, but his very first live album. Michael is a wonderful songwriter, talented musician, and consistent live performer, so the music is both polished and representative of his live shows. This is a CD you should check out. There are clips at his web site, and the one new song (the title track) is streamed in full in the Listening Room.
September, 2007, updated 1/10 - Saratoga Springs singer/songwriter Michael Jerling's Latest Studio CD, Crooked Path, in September, 2007. It is his fifth CD, and like his others is full of beautiful music and creative lyrics. One of the songs on this CD, Why They Run The Race, is about racing at Saratoga - a subject dear to my heart!
October, 2006 - Saratoga Springs singer/songwriter Michael Jerling has added several more CDs to his Fool's Hill Music online store. The newly added CDs are by Lorne Clarke, Mallory O'Donnell, Rosanne Raneri, David Butler and No Outlet, the last a group consisting of Tony Markellis, Dale Haskell and Kevin Maul.
Michael's store showcases a fine group of acoustic artists, mostly from upstate New York, with a few from the midwest. In many cases, Michael acted as the producer for the CDs; in all cases, the music is excellent.
Also in the store is a special CD of Saratoga Springs music, called Saratoga Pie, with a new Michael Jerling track Why They Run The Race (listen to clip). This song is about horse racing, another subject close to my heart, and is a tribute to horseplayers and Saratoga Race Course where the thoroughbreds race for 6 weeks every summer - and the main reason I spend summers in Saratoga Springs! Another excellent CD is Melancholy Babies, a CD release of a trio which includes Michael's wife Teresina Huxtable. For more, check the online store at foolshillmusic.com.
Eric Clapton 35th Anniversary Slowhand with Looking At The Rain
Simon & Garfunkel
Bridge Over Troubled Waters 40th Anniversary Edition CD and DVD with 1969 "Songs of America" TV broadcast and a documentary
New DVD/CD set from 2007 live shows
WMFA — Special Sale of Kingston Trio 45th Anniversary Items
August 16, 2009 -
The World Folk Music Association is running a special sale of Kingston Trio 45th Anniversary Concert items. Anyone buying the DVD ($24.95) will also get the souvenir concert program and souvenir photo. For details visit the WFMA Store at WFMA Online Store, KT sale. (The animated image here shows the 8"x20" photo in 3 segments, left to right).
If you scroll through the WFMA store, you will find recordings from their annual concerts, and other special performances of top folk recording stars of the 60s through today.
Among their recordings are a compilation CD and DVD (two separate items) of their 20st Annual Concert weekend, recorded live at the Birchmere on January 14 & 15, 2005.
Both feature performances by many of the great names of American folk music including: Oscar Brand, Buskin & Batteau, The Brothers Four, Hamilton Camp, Bill Danoff, Steve Gillette & Cindy Mangsen, Carolyn Hester & David Bloom, The Highwaymen, Christine Lavin, The Limeliters, Tommy Makem, David Mallett, The Chad Mitchell Trio, Modern Man, Tom Paxton and Schooner Fare. The Hamilton Camp track is a cover of Jimmy Webb's The Highwayman, and is probably the last live recording that he made before his untimely death later that year. Tommy Makem passed away in 2007.
If you are interested in live folk recordings not available elsewhere, you should take a look at what they have. Their web site is at wfma.net.
Peter, Paul and Mary CD: The Prague Sessions
March 7, 2009 -
Peter Paul & Mary With Symphony Orchestra: The Prague Sessions is the result of a project envisioned by the band prior to Mary's death in September, 2009. Peter & Paul have recorded new orchestral arrangements of their songs, which were then combined with recent/archival live vocals. The results are exquisite, and a wonderful tribute to Mary. The CD will be released on Tuesday, March 9th, and can be pre-ordered today.
The album is dedicated to Mary; each song was recorded at a different concert over the last 20 years. The final song, an instrumental, is one that Mary had requested be played at her memorial.
Mary Travers Passes Away at 72
September 17, 2009 -
Another folk voice has been stilled, that of Mary Travers, who passed away Wednesday, 9/16, following a long battle with leukemia and the effects of treatment.
As a member of the renowned trio Peter, Paul and Mary, she helped energize the folk voice.
Peter, Paul & Mary
The trio were one of the top acts of the 1960s and early 1970s, and had hits with their own songs and with those of Bob Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot, John Denver and others. The music of today would not be the same without the influence of this trio.
Peter, Paul and Mary were among the first to record Lightfoot's songs; their covers of Early Mornin' Rain and For Lovin' Me were hits in the US, and helped introduce Lightfoot to US fans. One of his early gigs was an opener for Peter, Paul and Mary at the Hollywood Bowl in August, 1969.
I never had the privilege of meeting Mary, but I did meet Noel (Paul) in January, 2005. His humility speaks for all three of them. Mary will be missed.
February & November, 2008 -
The Bob Gibson Legacy Project under the loving care of Bob's daughter Meridian Green, has announced the release of a series of five CDs called The Living Legend Collection.
The first CD, Bob Gibson, The Living Legend Years was released in February. It is a compilation of tunes from four of Gibson's independent label releases. It also contains three never before released recordings, one of which is a Gibson & Camp recording. (Sadly, this CD is no longer available, but the other four are).
You can read more about the entire series on the news page at the Bob Gibson Legacy web site. All Gibson & Camp CDs are available at both the Bob Gibson web site and the Hamilton Camp web site. The entire series, and Bob's other solo albums on CD, are available at the Bob Gibson site.
Lightfoot connection: As many of you may know, Bob Gibson and the 1961 ground breaking album, Gibson & Camp At The Gate Of Horn,
strongly influenced a generation of folk musicians not the least of whom were Gordon Lightfoot and Roger McGuinn. Both of these artists frequently talk about Lightfoot's influence on them. In an interview in February, about Lightfoot's upcoming concert in Chattanooga, TN, Lightfoot talked about Gibson at some length. You can actually listen to Lightfoot's comments in an audio clip in the article: Chattanooga Times articles (listen to the first of two clips).
You will hear Lightfoot talk about how Civil War Trilogy influenced the song structure of his own epic, Canadian Railroad Trilogy. (In fact, the 3 parts of Civil War Trilogy were actually written by different songwriters: Camp and Shel Silverstein, Irving Gordon, and Gibson respectively). Civil War Trilogy is one of the songs on Gibson & Camp At The Gate of Horn.
Lightfoot has also credited Bob Gibson as a key influence of his own 12-string playing style, and he recorded Hamilton Camp's folk classic Pride Of Man on his first UA album, Lightfoot!
I feel privileged to be the webmaster of both web sites, working with a member of the Camp family and with Meridian.
June 13, 2007; updated July, 2008 and July 4, 2012 -
Clay Eals, a Seattle writer and journalist, has written a thorough, thoughtful and insightful biography of singer/songwriter Steve Goodman, who died at only 36 from leukemia, a disease he battled throughout his entire recording career.
Goodman, best known for his signature song "City of New Orleans", as well as "You Never Even Call Me by My Name," "Banana Republics," "A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request", and "Go, Cubs, Go", now played after every Cubs home win, came out of the Chicago folk scene (as did Gibson & Camp and Roger McGuinn, among others). At last there is a book that recognizes his important musical contributions.
The book, a labor of love over many years, is a massive 800 pages (over 4 lbs in weight!), and includes more than 600 photos, and a MP3 album download of tribute songs and interview clips. If you purchase the book from the author's site, you will get the tribute album on CD (first 28 copies) or CD-R. The book has been very well received, won an IPPY medal, and is now in its third printing.
The book features interviews with more than 1,050 sources, including Gordon Lightfoot, Arlo Guthrie (who wrote the Foreward), John Prine, Steve Martin, Jimmy Buffett, Kris Kristofferson, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Randy Newman, Paul Anka, David Allan Coe, Judy Collins, Tom Paxton, Pete Seeger, John Sebastian, Leo Kottke, and Goodman's high-school classmate Hillary Rodham Clinton. Lightfoot's recollections and the influence of his "train song" on Goodman's make interesting reading for Lightfoot fans.
To learn more about the book, visit Clay's web site at clayeals.com.
December, 2006 -
Cathy Cowette: Songs For A Winter's Night: My best friend, Cathy Cowette, a very talented singer/guitar player, has just released her first CD. Of 13 tracks, six are Lightfoot songs: Song For A Winter's Night, Redwood Hill, If You Could Read My Mind, Home From The Forest, Ribbon of Darkness and Heaven Help The Devil. The others songs are by Jim Croce (These Dreams), Kate Wolf (Across The Great Divide), Eric Clapton (Tears In Heaven), Steve Goodman (City Of New Orleans), Dan Fogelberg (Leader Of The Band), and Davie Graham (Anji), plus there is one original instrumental called ... Toronto In May. That was written for the May, 2001 Lightfoot concert series, Cathy's first time there and my second.
Many of you are already familiar with Cathy's music; if you are not, please listen to the clips on her web site at cathycowette.com. I think you will like what you hear.
The CD was recorded at Grant Avenue Studios, in Hamilton, ON, by Bob Doidge and Amy King. There is a nice mixture of fingerpicking and strumming, and wonderful arrangements by the very talented Mr. Doidge, who also did the arrangements for two of the songs on Lightfoot's 2004 CD (and the recording of the entire album). Bob plays high-string guitar, bass, accordian, drums ... and sleigh bells ...
Dick Boak at Martin tells the story of how the Roger McGuinn HD-7 guitar came about:
"Having done a very special D12-40RM 12-String Roger McGuinn Limited Edition
Martin Guitar project in 1999, I had developed a great friendship and
working relationship with Roger and his wife Camilla. They would often stop
in at Martin while on tour. One day, Roger came by and selected a lovely
HD-28V 6-string guitar and soon, he had added it to his acoustic repertoire.
Many months later he and Camilla stopped in again and while we were having
lunch together, he explained an idea that he had for a 7-string guitar. He
was planning a few extended tours to Europe and didn't relish the idea of
having to carry several guitars, especially onto planes and through
He had always felt that the most powerful element of his 12-string guitar
was the highly tensioned pair of G strings. His songwriting and guitar
technique had long taken advantage of these G strings for special
"jingle-jangle" lead runs. His idea was to add the double G strings to a
conventional 6-string guitar. We sketched out some headstock and bridge
diagrams on a napkin and after his departure, I proceeded to hash out the
finer details for a special Custom HD-28V 7-string.
When the instrument was completed, I strummed it and was amazed at how
powerful the guitar was. It was so much fun to play. Leon Redbone saw it the
following day in my office and was equally amazed. When Roger received it,
he too was taken aback by its power and enhanced tone. He said that it had
all of the best attributes of both the 6-string and the 12-string models a
veritable "Swiss Army Knife" of guitars.
It was a no brainer that this idea was something that could and should be
embraced by a wider audience. Roger and I went back to the drawing board and
put together specifications for the Limited Edition HD-7 Roger McGuinn
7-string model, and I must say that it certainly exceeds all expectations as
to what an acoustic guitar can be!"
Artist Relations, Limited Editions
C. F. Martin & Co. (The Martin Guitar Company)
December, 2012 - It's the Holiday season and most of us are trying to think of some original holiday gift ideas. Music is always a good gift, and there are many things to choose from including CDs, DVDs, sheet music and photos. There are many Lightfoot related gift ideas, plus many of my other favorite folk musicians have wonderful CDs that would make great gifts (and your Lightfoot fan friend or family member would be less likely to have them). Check the entries under Folk News, and of course check out the Gordon Lightfoot News section on this web page for gift ideas.
Look for the
gift package icon throughout this web site. Happy Holidays!
Gordon Lightfoot News
February 2015 US Tour Dates Announced
December 3, 2014 — Gordon Lightfoot has just announced his tour schedule for February 2015, the first tour segment of the new year.
Concerts are scheduled in the Southeast US, as well as Texas and Oklahoma.
Check the tour schedule below for details with on-sale and pre-sale information when it is available. Some concerts have been on sale for awhile; others are going on sale this week.
2012 Documentary Uses Lightfoot Recording
Thanks to singer/songwriter Rebecca Miner, I am now aware that a Lightfoot recording - but not an original song - was used in the 2012 documentary about the environmental movement. A Fierce Green Fire: The Battle for a Living Planet is an acclaimed Sundance documentary, and on a topic which Gord cares about, so the use of the song is very pleasant indeed.
And the song is by another songwriter who I knew. It's Hamilton Camp's "Pride of Man." The song is played in its entirety over the final credits!
I always loved that version of the song, and only heard Hamilton's version many years later. As I have said elsewhere, Gord is faithful to the feeling and folk style of the original, but Gord's is perhaps even more chilling than Hamilton's. Both really great, however.
Rebecca contacted me through the Hamilton Camp's website, to find out the publisher of the song, so she can get a license it for her next CD. As far as I know, the only other covers are by Gene Clark and Quicksilver Messenger Service. Hamilton recorded it twice himself; the second recording is on his last CD, "Sweet Joy", released in 2005, shortly after his death. The first was on "Paths of Victory," sadly out of print.
Audiophile Vinyl Adventures After Record Store Day (Reviews)
May 29, 2014 —
When the new audiophile 180 gram "Sundown" was announced earlier this year, I knew I wanted to hear it. There was just one problem: I don't have an audiophile system. In fact, I have no system at all (we listen to CDs and digital recordings through our TV, or on headphones). My son has the only working record player in the family, and he is 1800 miles away.
I thought about who I knew who might have an audiophile system, or know someone who does. I was lucky that a good friend just happens to know the owner of an independent record store, and he not only agreed to help out; he invited me to his home to listen with him.
To make the experience even better, I had my son send me my sealed copy of the Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs recording of "Sundown", released in 1979. I had the album back then, but I had purchased a sealed copy for my collection. The opportunity to listen to different versions of the same album on high-end equipment was a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and a suitable situation for unsealing the album.
So, on the appointed day, two weeks after Record Store Day, my husband and I went off to visit, with the 2014 Record Store Day "Sundown," The 1979 MFSL "Sundown", the 2013 Record Store Day, "Sit Down Young Stranger" (which is the "If You Could Read My Mind" album under its original title), and the new album by Neil Young, "A Letter Home," which has two Lightfoot covers, and was recorded in a 1947 "record booth" (a lot like photo booths you find at state fairs and amusement parks), yet manufactured on 180 gram vinyl!
Gordon Lightfoot's Sundown to Get Audiophile Treatment for Record Store Day 2014
Picture is original Reprise LP cover
March 5, 2014 — This year's Record Store Day, to be held Saturday, April 19th, will include a limited edition vinyl release of Lightfoot's most popular album, Sundown. Record Store Day is a day set aside to celebrate and support the local record store, and many of the record companies sponsor it by releasing special limited edition records.
Sundown reached #1 on the pop charts in June of 1974, as did the single of the title song simultaeously in both the US and Canada — the first time that had happened. Carefree Highway reached #10 on the pop charts later in the year.
The new audiophile LP will be pressed on 180-gram black vinyl and come with a special inner sleeve: a photo of the original master tape box with hand-written engineers' notations (this according to Warner Music Canada's Greg Morris).
Last year's Record Store Day included a limited edition release of Sit Down Young Stranger (the original title of the album that becamse If You Could Read My Mind), but that one was released by an obscure audiophile vinyl label. This year's release is from Warner Music Canada, which is a good thing, but — contrary to what I initially thought — the record is officially announced for Record Store Day only in Canada. However, I have learned that it can be ordered by US retailers through a specific individual; have your record store email me (tell them firstname.lastname@example.org) for the contact to order it for the US market. It's a limited edition, so while there may be copies available later, it probably won't be easy to find. If you want one, make arrangements now.
You can visit the Record Store Day website to find out which record stores in your area are participating in Record Store Day; I suggest that you call them ahead of time so they know which album you want! Here's the link to the RSD site: Record Store Day.
I will write a full review of the new record as soon as I get it and can sit back and listen to it a few times. Yes, I accept the assignment.
Sign-up for my mailing list, and I will deliver my review to your inbox.
Posted on Facebook by Don Armstrong : "Our pals Gaylan Taylor of the Limelighters & Bill Zorn of The Kingston Trio performing "Early Morning Rain" at the Fiddler's Dream Tribute to Don & Victoria Armstrong on April 19, 2014. My Mom would have loved this as much as I did."
Fantastic version, isn't it?
Neil Young Releases "Old Technology" Vinyl Album of Covers, called "A Letter Home"
April 19, 2014, updated April 26 —
On April 18th, Neil Young quietly released his promised "covers" album, without any fanfare. It's a vinyl release, using very old technology (see more below), and featuring 11 cover tunes, two of which are by Gordon Lightfoot. Neil has been performing both songs — "Early Mornin' Rain" and "If You Could Read My Mind" — in his live shows starting last Fall.
In addition to the two Lightfoot tunes, there are two by Willie Nelson, and one each by Phil Ochs, Bob Dylan, Bert Jansch, Tim Hardin, Ivory Joe Hunter, Bruce Springsteen and The Everly Brothers.
The record was recorded in the Third Man Record Booth; here's a video demonstrating it: Third Man Record Booth
The record appears to be sold out, but the CD, MP3 album and box set are available from Amazon: the LP (appears to be sold out), the format it was designed for, the CD, an MP3 album, or the Limited Edition Box Set with vinyl, CD, DVD and digital versions included. This album is also available from Amazon Canada (vinyl, search at Amazon Canada to other formats)
and Amazon UK (vinyl, search at Amazon UK to other formats).
Just remember: it was recorded in a "record booth" - and it sounds just like a bad record. But it is charming, and makes one wish that Neil would record these songs in a 2014 recording studio and release that too. I have the LP, and am happy to have it, but I really enjoy Neil's versions of these wonderful songs, and would like to hear him do them using today's technology.
Neil Young Dips Into Gordon Lightfoot's Catalogue Again
March 30, 2014/Last updated June 1, 2014 —
Once again, fellow Canadian icon Neil Young has taken a page from Lightfoot's songbook, performing "If You Could Read My Mind", at recent shows. Many of you will remember that last Fall, Young performed "Early Morning Rain", at a Farm Aid show in Saratoga Springs (see next story). Here's a video of Neil performing "If You Could Read My Mind", on April 22, 2014:
Last last summer, Lightfoot replaced Young as the headliner at two festivals after Young was forced to cancel due to an injury suffered by his lead guitar player. Both musicians are icons in Canada, and clearly share mutual respect.
Neil Young Performs Early Mornin' Rain at Farm Aid 2013 in Saratoga Springs
September 22, 2013 —
Last night at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center Farm Aid show, Neil Young tipped his hat to Gordon Lightfoot with a solo performance of the bard's Early Mornin' Rain. My son sent me a text message, "EMR second song after Blowin' In The Wind" (I wonder how many 20-somethings there knew the songwriters of both of those songs, or who would abbreviate the Lightfoot song as EMR?).
For Lightfoot fans who have followed the story, Neil's lead guitarist in Crazy Horse suffered a hand injury over the summer, and Neil cancelled a number of performances including those at two big festivals in Ontario. Lightfoot was asked to step in, and did so, and Neil expressed his appreciation to Lightfoot personally. Last night, Neil performed some songs with a few musicians, but not his full band, and he did some songs solo, including Early Mornin' Rain: just Neil, his guitar and harmonica (tempted to say, "harp", but I'm not sure all readers would know that jargon).
Unfortunately, I am back in Colorado so I couldn't enjoy it in person, but I am so pleased that my son decided to take in the show. Here's a video of the performance on You Tube:
Gordon Lightfoot Added to Line-up of Two Ontario Festivals
August 27, 2013 —
Gordon Lightfoot has kindly agreed to step into the headlining role at two Ontario festivals, after Neil Young had to cancel due to his guitarist's hand injury. As a result, festival attendees will get to see another of Canada's great music legends.
The concerts are the Greenbelt Harvest Picnic in Dundas, ON on Saturday, August 31st, and the Ottawa Folk Festival in Ottawa, ON on Sunday, Septmember 8th. Links to event details and ticket purchase sites can be found in the tour schedule.
Neil has called Gordon to thank him for stepping in to help.
Massey Hall Concerts, November 14 - 17, 2012
November 24, 2012 —
The 2012 Massey Hall concerts are behind us now, but they leave us with a lot of great memories of a good time and great music.
For me, the musical highlight of the 3 nights I attended was hearing Race Among The Ruins live, for the first time since the 70s. Although I don't mention it often, when asked for my favorite songs, it belongs up there; probably in my top 10. I play it on repeat when I drive cross country alone. I am not sure why it is such a favorite; maybe the combination of uplifting music while tackling a less than uplifting theme. In any case, I went to Toronto hoping to hear this song live, and I did. Thank you Gordon.
Another highlight was the first ever live performnce of Circle Of Steel, on Thursday night, which he repeated on Saturday night. All I can say is, Wow! Someone asked me several months ago if Gord might do it and I said, "Not very likely; he's never done it live to my knowledge". How nice to be wrong!
Circle Of Steel is another of his beautiful songs about something that isn't beautiful, someone down on their luck. It's the woman's equivalent of Home From The Forest (that is Gordon's metaphor, not mine, but it's perfect). Adding it to the playlist in the run-up to the Holiday season is fitting, as it is a Holiday song; grim, but the storyline takes place during the holidays, and the first three notes of Deck The Halls are heard throughout.
Jimmy Buffett was in the audience for Saturday night's show. Gordon introduced him from the stage, and the spotlight paused on my husband, who was seated in the same aisle seat, a few rows ahead of Buffett. That was pretty funny! (I don't think my husband looks much like Jimmy Buffett, but I suppose "older man, glasses, aisle seat" might have caused the confusion). It was a treat to know that Buffett was there enjoying the show with us. I knew he was a Lightfoot fan because he played Lightfoot often on his Radio Marguaritaville show back in the late 1990s when online radio was a new thing, and talked about it and Gordon with great admiration. He was in Toronto visiting a friend, and came out to enjoy a great show with all of us.
Gordon confided on Thursday and Saturday in his introduction to Canadian Railroad Trilogy, that it would be the song he performs in the Grey Cup (CFL) halftime show on Sunday, November, 25th (The game will be televised, even in the US; read more below). For that show, he will perform an abbreviated version (4 verses), understandable given that there are multiple performers and only 15 or 20 minutes or so for the show! The full song runs about 7 minutes. (He assured us both nights that we would hear the full version at Massey - and we did). The question is, which verses will he drop? Since the CFL has not released the song list in advance, I guess we have a scoop!
All of the concerts featureed his most popular songs (If You Could Read My Mind, Sundown, Carefree Highway, Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, Beautiful, Rainy Day People), so even the most casual fan would hear many songs he knows. The set lists also included many songs from his 1993 album, several of which he hadn't performed in years (as many as five of them on some nights). And, as he has in recent years, he performed Ribbon Of Darkness into Sundown, ending the first song after "Ribbon Of Darkness ...", to which several of the regulars added "over me". Both the fans and Lightfoot seem to enjoy this immensely. (When he first did the two songs that way, the hall would remain quiet, but in the last couple of years the fans have stepped up to the plate, so to speak).
On the final night, Gordon made a brief reference to his 2013 tour, being planned as an "anniversary" tour (50th). All he said, with a big grin, was something like, "We have 70 shows lined up already for 2013". Sounds good to me! So, stay tuned, and sign up for my mailing list if you aren't on it already, so you'll get the concert dates by email the day I get them.
As always, the music was played to perfection (and the intonation perfect, as Gordon likes to say).
Here are the set lists for the four shows (Wednesday's set list from published sources):
The next Massey stand has been announced for April 24th to 26th, 2014; three nights rather than four, and in April. I'll be there. Will you?
Gordon Lightfoot To Perform At The Canadian Football League Grey Cup Halftime Show Sunday, November 25th
November 24, 2012 — Gordon Lightfoot will be one of the featured performers at the halftime of the Grey Cup. It will be telecast live on TSN and RDS in Canada, and NBC Sports Network in the United States, and available to SiriusXM subscribers on Sirius channel 157 and XM channel 160.
Yes, folks, that's right! If you have satellite or most cable services, you will be able to watch this on TV in the US! The game starts at 6PM EST. As reported here, Lightfoot will perform an abbreviated version of Canadian Railroad Trilogy (see more above, in the Massey Hall story). Note to DirecTV subscribers: Don't panic when you don't see NBC Sports Network in its usual slot on 603; it has moved recently to 220. Yes, I panicked.
You can read the CFL's article on the scheduled entertainment here.
Eric Clapton releases 1977 recording of Looking At The Rain
November 21, 2012 — Music legend Eric Clapton has included a 1977 recording of Gordon Lightfoot's Looking At The Rain on his 35th Anniversary Edition re-release of his most popular album, Slowhand. Looking At the Rain is one of four previously unreleased tracks on the new album, and it is the first single.
The song was recorded early in the Slowhand sessions, on May 6, 1977. What a treasure in the vault! It is faithful to the Lightfoot version in general style and mood, and the vocals are somewhat reminiscent of Lightfoot too. I am thrilled that Clapton chose to release this cover now, and hope it does well on the charts. The Lightfoot recording, on his 1972 album Don Quixote, was not released as a single.
It goes without saying that Clapton is one of the most highly regarded artists of his generation, as well as one of the top rated guitar players. The fact that he chose a Lightfoot song to record speaks volumes. The song is available for purchase here (MP3 at Amazon.com), but a Clapton CD is probably a good investment. The "Deluxe Edition" CD with the Lightfoot song can be ordered from Amazon.com, Amazon.ca and Amazon.co.uk. Both the "Deluxe" and "Super Deluxe" editions include the Lightfoot song.
Gordon Lightfoot Interviewed by Kate Lochte of WKMS 91.3 FM, Murray, KY
September 28, 2012 — Kate Lochte, Station Manager at WKMS 91.3 FM, Murray, KY, interviewed Lightfoot early this month for broadcast on the aptly named "Sounds Good", about a week before his September 27th concert in Paduca, KY. Kate got a wonderful interview, during which Lightfoot talked about his music, some of the stories behind it, and his children. (And no, I am not Galen's mother).
To listen to this interview now, sign-up for my mailing list, even if you are already on it; the MP3 link will be in the email acknowledgment message you will get today (and you will still be on the mailing list only once). The interview was made available on the station website, with the pre-concert story Meet Singer/Songwriter Gordon Lightfoot on Sounds Good.
Gordon Lightfoot on US Radio on September 1st
August 30, 2012 — While he is interviewed on Canadian radio and TV with some regularly these days, it is rare to hear a Lightfoot interview broadcast in the US. This interview was broadcast live Saturday, September 1st from 4 to 5pm EDT at www.wondradio.com from "The Steel Pier", itself rich with music history.
This show, on the air for decades, is broadcast from Atlantic City, NJ. Locally, the interview was broadcast on WOND 1400 AM.
September 1, 2012 — To download an MP3 of the interview, sign-up for my mailing list, even if you are already on it; the MP3 link will be in the email acknowledgment message you will get today (and you will still be on the mailing list only once).
John Stockfish, Gordon Lightfoot's First Bass Player, Passes Away August 20th
September 1, 2012 — John Stockfish, Lightfoot's original bass player, passed away on August 20th. He was 69. His death was due to natural causes.
John, along with Red Shea and Lightfoot were memorialized forever in the tribute song Lightfoot, written and recorded by "The Guess Who".
Although he left the band in early 1969, he remained in contact with Lightfoot and recorded with him on occasion after that including on the 1974 hit Sundown.
During his career, he worked with other performers including Dan Hill, Tommy Hunter, Cab Calloway, and Mel Tormé, and as a music publisher in Nashville.
A private family funeral was held on August 31st in Mississauga, Ontario.
Gordon Lightfoot: All Live
March, 2012/Updated April 18 - Scheduled for release on April 24th - but already shipping from Amazon.com, Lightfoot's latest CD is All Live (Amazon.com link; others below). It includes 19 classic Lightfoot songs recorded live at Massey Hall and handpicked by the artist from performances recorded between 1998 – 2001. "The recordings have not been technically altered and are authentic live mixes," says Lightfoot of the album. Fans will hear each song exactly as it was performed that night – no over dubs, no mixing – ALL LIVE.
The CD was recorded at Massey Hall by Grant Avenue Studio's Bob Doidge and Amy King.
June 29, 2013 - An audiophile, 180 gram 2 LP version of the "All Live" album has been announced for July 30, 2013 availability. You can order it now from
Amazon.com (audiophile 2 LP set). For those of us who have a turntable, this is wonderful news. Many of us who grew up on vinyl records are convinced that they sound better than their CD counterparts, especially when they are manufactured to modern audiophile standards. This is a 180 gram Limited Edition. I look forward to hearing it!
April 24, 2012 -
This is a lovely new album, and we are very lucky to have it now. With only one live (audio) album, from back in 1969, this new CD is long overdue. We do have the video from the same timeframe (recorded in 2000, while the CD tracks come from concerts in 1998, 1999 and 2001), but there was no CD of the Reno concert and most of us didn't make our own from the DVD (which wouldn't be the exact same result as a recording mastered for CD, in any case).
The 19 tracks include all four top 10 hits, If You Could Read My Mind, Sundown, Carefree Highway, and Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, plus Rainy Day People which reached #26, so casual fans will hear all the songs they remember from the radio. And it contains most of the songs he sings every night in concert - to this day - with the strange exception of Don Quixote. And, much to my disappointment, he didn't take this opportunity to give us a live recording of Sit Down Young Stranger, a song that is a special favorite of many of us, even if the public at large doesn't know it. But we do get three of the big songs that weren't hits: the epic Canadian Railroad Trilogy (the fourth official recording), Early Mornin' Rain and Song For A Winter's Night, all from his United Artist days. The absense of Don Quixote aside (when pressed for his favorite song recently, Lightfoot said it was this one!), it much resembles a single set "casino" program, much as you might hear today. As one fan said to me, it so much reminds her of the concert she went to recently, and brings back all those good feelings.
I would be remiss not to mention the fact that this album is truly "all live", a point which Lightfoot himself makes clearly in the album notes and in interviews. The original live concert mix was used; not even a tasteful remix from longtime recording engineer Bob Doidge. Lightfoot decided that the original mix sounded better than any remix. This just doesn't happen! And so we really have a live concert to listen to at home, one that transports us to the venue.
I received a copy of the CD from the record label.
Two Tones LP Released As An MP3 Album!
For anyone who has had "collecting fever", and the desire to own everything Lightfoot ever recorded, this MP3 album is a very welcome addition. Two Tones at the village corner is the first Lightfoot recording ever released, back in 1962; it's a duet album with his high school friend Terry Whelan.
Most of the songs are international folk, including standards such as The Fox, Copper Kettle and Kilgarry Mountain, but Lightfoot included one original (This Is My Song), and also a Merle Travis song called Dark As A Dungeon. While the rest of the album is very different from the familiar Lightfoot sound, his vocals on the Travis standard were very much in the "Lightfoot style". (The guitar playing is his first recorded song with "Travis picking", named for the writer of the song).
See the Two Tones album page for more details including the track listing, and the link to purchase the MP3 album. As a devoted fan, I am very happy that this recording is now available in digital form, after decades of frenzied collecting of the scarce LP. It is nice to be able to hear Lightfoot sing and play so early in his career; it just enables us to appreciate even more the great artist he became.
Limited Edition Photos
Arthur Usherson, a professional photographer based in Atlanta, has been taking pictures of Lightfoot for four decades. He has photographed Lightfoot in Canada, at Mariposa and Massey Hall, and at several venues in the US. He is now making some of his photos available as limited editions, individually printed for each order on "EPSON Matte Paper Heavyweight" inkjet photo paper.
Art and I selected three photos from the first half of the 70s as a starting point. Perhaps the feature photo is the one of Lightfoot and Dylan at Mariposa, used as the original cover photo for the recent book by Dave Bidini; and I added two solo performance photos as part of our initial three selections. Any of them would make an attractive conversation piece and decoration for any "Lighthead's" home. You can see all three photos and purchase them at my Lightfoot store here.
Gordon Lightfoot Inducted into Songwriters Hall of Fame
June 15, 2012 —
Gordon Lightfoot was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame Thursday night, along with fellow inductees Bob Seger, Don Schlitz, Harvey Schmidt & Tom Jones and Jim Steinman. Lightfoot performed his most often recorded song, If You Could Read My Mind, at the induction ceremony at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City.
The Songwriters Hall of Fame, based in New York, recognizes songwriters from throughout the world.
Lightfoot was presented with the award by Steve Miller, who also performed Sundown. A tweet by a representive of the Songwriters Hall of Fame reported that Lightfoot recognized Oscar Brand, 92, who is a folk icon himself and was in attendance. It's just like Lightfoot to recognize someone else who deserves it!
Read more in the on the scene report below, by journalist Eric Greenberg.
Gordon Lightfoot Inducted into Songwriters Hall of Fame
By Eric Greenberg
June 15,2012 —
I was on the phone with a friend of mine, a Canadian Catholic priest in Ontario, and I mentioned that I would be attending the induction of my friend Gordon Lightfoot into the American Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York.
The priest was impressed.
"Wow. He is an icon, a legend here in Canada," he said, possibly thinking I may not know this.
But then he told me something I did not know. "When I was in high school we had a class where we studied 'Canadian Railroad Trilogy' for a week, examining the lyrics and the accuracy of the story," he confided. "It was very historically accurate."
How many songwriters can say that one of their songs is required reading in the school system?
When I related this story to Gordon Lightfoot on the eve of his induction, he added that his unexpected role of classroom teacher is not limited to his 1967 "Canadian Railroad Trilogy".
"I am told that they also now study 'Wreck' (of the Edmund Fitzgerald)" in schools, Lightfoot responded. "I'm very pleased."
The next day, in the grand ballroom of the New York Marriott Marquis hotel on Broadway there was Gordon Lightfoot, Canada's greatest-singer songwriter joined by legendary Detroit rocker Bob Seger, Jim Steinman, composer of "Bat Out of Hell," one of the biggest selling albums of all time, Don Schlitz, who wrote Kenny Roger's number one hit "The Gambler" among other country hits, and the 60-year songwriting team of Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones (the musical "The Fantastiks") as the 2012 inductees into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Other honorees at the 43rd annual event included Bette Midler (life achievement award); co-writers Ben E. King, Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber for the classic "Stand By Me"; folk legend Woody Guthrie with the hall's new Pioneer Award; music publisher Lance Freed, (son of legendary rock and roll disc jockey Alan Freed) and soul singer Ne-Yo for best new emerging artist.
Besides the inductees, performers included Stevie Nicks, Emmylou Harris, Steve Miller, Meatloaf, Take 6, Kenny Rogers, Valerie Simpson and a wonderful new singer songwriter named LP, who impressed the high level recording industry audience with a rousing version of Guthrie's "This Land is your Land."
Songwriter hall president Jimmy Webb, (composer of "Up Up and Away," "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" and many other hits) said this was the best attended in the history of the organization, which was founded in 1969.
The formula for the evening worked nicely: honorees performed their own songs, and guest artists did a cover version.
Steve Miller, who first met Lightfoot in the late 1960s, performed "Sundown" before officially inducting Gordon into the hall of fame. Miller, famous for writing "Fly Like an Eagle," "The Joker" and a string of rock hits, recited a list of Lightfoot's many achievements, including artists who have covered Lightfoot tunes (Elvis, Barbra, Judy Collins, Grateful Dead, Eric Greenberg, Judy Collins, Jerry Lee Lewis) and related the famous quote from Bob Dylan that when he hears a Lightfoot song, he wishes it would last forever.
Lightfoot then did a stirring rendition of "If You Could Read My Mind" accompanied by longtime bassist Rick Haynes, and new band member guitarist Carter Lancaster.
Before the ceremony, I talked with Lightfoot about the event and songwriting. When he first got the call from the hall, Lightfoot said he wasn't all that familiar with the event.
Eric Greenberg, is a former national award-winning United States newspaper reporter who has been covering Gordon Lightfoot's career for more than 35 years for such newspapers as the Buffalo Courier Express, Buffalo Evening News, The Village Voice, The Bergen Record, The Daily News, New York Newsday and USA Today.
February 21, 2012 (announcement story) —
The Songwriters Hall of Fame, based in New York City, announced the 2012 inductees today, and I must admit I was very pleasantly surprised. Gord had been nominated many times before, but had not been voted in until now. I am thrilled!
From their press release:
"Songwriters Hall of Fame Announces 2012 Inductees
Gordon Lightfoot, Bob Seger, Don Schlitz, Harvey Schmidt & Tom Jones and Jim Steinman to be Inducted June 14th in NYC
Musical geniuses Gordon Lightfoot, Bob Seger, Don Schlitz, Harvey Schmidt & Tom Jones and Jim Steinman will become the newest members of the Songwriters Hall of Fame at the organization’s 43rd Annual Induction and Awards Dinner. The star-studded event is slated for Thursday, June 14th at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City."
This year, he was up against Dion, Blondie, The Eurythmics, George Michael, Cat Stevens, and Pete Townsand (of The Who), in addition to the named inductees, and I thought those six might provide strong competition. But my own feeling was that their songs - while wonderful as performed by them - did not have lives of their own as Lightfoot's do. Other performers have been recording Lightfoot's songs for more than 45 years.
You can read the entire press release at the Songwriters Hall of Fame web site. My apologies to the "Hall" for my not having faith in them!
Songbook Box Set Out of Print
December 10, 2011, updated March 22, 2012 — I don't like to report bad news like this, but I thought that some of you might want to know. If you haven't yet bought this treasure, the last new copies will soon be gone, and even used copies will probably be hard to find. It breaks my heart that Rhino/WEA let it go out of print, but I am hardly surprised. The news I have heard from my record company friends is not encouraging: the big record labels are deleting folk and other non-charting titles as they go out of stock. I've even heard rumors of a more widespread erosion of CD availability, but there is nothing official yet. I hope the rumors are wrong.
As this time, there appear to be no new copies of Songbook in any online store, and used copies are expensive. If you see one that is reasonably priced, and you don't have it yet, grab it! If I find any that are reasonbly priced, I will buy them and make them available in my store.
The CD cover image above links to Amazon.com, which may have copies via their 3rd party sellers, but prices are very high.
David Rea, "First" Lead Guitar Player for Lightfoot, Passes Away
January 24, 2012 — A tribute concert for David Rea will be held this Sunday, January 29, 2012 at 6 pm at the Alberta Rose Theatre, 3000 NE Alberta Street, Portland, OR. It will be a free event. (Read more)
October 29, 2011 — This is very difficult for me to write because I knew David; in fact, I developed a web site for him and it was only when I called him back in June to say that I was ready to launch, that I learned he had just been hospitalized. He had been ill throughout the summer, and passed away on Thursday, October 27th, the day after his 65th birthday.
From lead guitar player for Gordon Lightfoot, Ian & Sylvia, Joni Mitchell and others, to a singer/songwriter in his own right, David had had a long and rich career in music. He even had a hit song, having co-written Mississippi Queen, a hit for Mountain. Joni Mitchell literally sang his praises; she wrote and recorded a song about him called, "Play Little David".
David played lead guitar on Lightfoot's debut album, "Lightfoot!"; everyone recognizes his distinctive intro riff to For Lovin' Me (heard also at the end of this clip). He played some live shows with Lightfoot in the early years (1964/1965), before Lightfoot could afford fulltime sidemen - and he entertained me repeatedly with his funny stories about those days.
Gord would call him up and ask him if he could come do a gig with him, sometimes with no money for expenses, and they would crash on somebody's couch. David told me funny anecdotes that relate to those occasional shows that he did with Gord. Unfortunately, although I asked him about that time (and David remembered only anecdotes and actually couldn't say when he last played with Gord but thought it was probably 1965, as I had guessed), I didn't write anything down thinking that I would do a formal interview with David about Gord at some point in the future.
When Lightfoot! was finally released in 1966, and Gord was in a position to hire his first "band", David had already taken a full time job with Ian & Sylvia. In an interview with Richie Unterberger for the liner notes to the Ian & Sylvia Lovin' Sound/Full Circle reissue, Sylvia jokes,"'I don't know if Gordon's ever forgiven us for that."
Though I never met him in person, I feel that I knew him well; a phone call with him would go on for hours. Literally. He was a storyteller in his soul, and all his friends and fans benefited from that.
Check out his last album, X7 (Times Seven), released in 2000 (click on album name or see right). My favorite song on it is his wonderful cover of Ian Tyson's The Gift; David really made it his own (there's a clip on the X7 web page). And, please visit his new web site which I launched in his honor shortly after his death: David Rea Music.
Biography of Ian & Sylvia, "Four Strong Winds" available
February 13,2012 — In the Fall of 2011, McClelland & Stewart published the first biography of the Canandian duo of Ian & Sylvia; previously, there had been biographies of Ian Tyson, including his autobiography, but this was the first time that a book was written about the pair and it was written with their full cooperation. I had first heard about the book from David Rea who was interviewed at length for it, and mentioned his phone calls with the author on multiple occasions.
Imagine my delight when I read the first few pages which talked about Ian & Sylvia's debut headlining appearance at Town Hall in NYC, extolling its acoustics and importance. It has long been one of my favorite venues; not only have I seen Lightfoot there, but I performed there as a child ballerina, and they are a client of mine today, so there is a lot of personal connection. In his introduction focusing on that Town Hall appearance, Einarson went on to say that Ian & Sylvia debuted three cover songs at that concert: two by Lightfoot (Early Mornin' Rain and For Lovin' Me), and one by my friend Steve Gillette (Darcy Farrow). Ian & Sylvia were the first to record those songs, and those recordings opened many doors for their songwriters.
Four Strong Winds - Review
The book is very much the story of the duo, but with enough on their lives earlier (and as children), and after they broke up (musically and personally, although the musical connection actually outlasted the personal) to put the duo's biography in context. I learned a lot about them that I didn't know, as my knowledge was limited to their early recordings, and the time that David was with them (and most of that from David).
I had first learned about them because I followed Lightfoot, and I bought their CD with the two Lightfoot covers, Early Morning Rain, to hear their version. I later bought Northern Journey because it had Ian's recording of the traditional tune, Nova Scotia Farewell*, a song that Lightfoot played live in the 60s, and then on and off through the decades most recently in 1995. Lightfoot credited Tyson as an influence and friend, so I decided I would learn more about him. This biography, rich with stories and anecdotes from that period, went a long way toward filling in the musical blanks.
September 20, 2011/Review October 19, 2011 — Dave Bidini, an accomplished writer and a founding member of the Canadian band, the Rheostatics, has written a unique book, which is part musical history, and part Gordon Lightfoot biography.
A special treat is that the hardcover book contains photographs by Arthur Usherson, taken at Mariposa 1972; there are photos of Lightfoot and of Bob Dylan, and other legendary musicians including Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Bonnie Raitt and more - a real treasure trove. The cover photo, shown here, is a famous one of Lightfoot and Dylan at the 1972 Mariposa. (Note: The information on photos applies to the hardcover version of the book; the paperback and Kindle versions have a different cover photo, not by Usherson, and I don't think the same inside photos are included).
Writing Gordon Lightfoot - Review
This is a most unusual book; it is the story of the 1972 Mariposa Festival; it is a review of news events during one week in July, 1972 (culminating in the festival), and it is a biography of Gordon Lightfoot done without any contact with him at all - unusual with a living subject. However improbable it may seem that this could be a recipe for success, somehow Bidini pulls it off. To make it work, his Lightfoot "bio" is in the form of "letters" that he, Bidini, might have sent to Lightfoot.
Bidini is a very entertaining writer, at once thoughtful, perceptive and engaging. While the events (historical and biographical) are taken from reputable sources, many lack precision and Bidini tackles the missing pieces by embroidering the facts with imagined details, weaving a probable story and yet letting the reader know which details are facts and which are the product of his own fertile imagination.
When he tells the story of Mariposa 1972, and of Lightfoot, it is with the eyes and ears of a musician. He includes details that another writer might not notice or choose to include; things that only a musician or someone who spends a lot of time with musicians would appreciate. This adds to the authenticity of the book, and is an element that made it especially enjoyable for me.
September 23, 2011 — Another fan was looking for this film, and when he didn't find it he sent me an email. So, of course I looked for it for him, and - surprisingly - I found the entire film online at the National Sailing Hall of Fame website. I had never seen it before, but - like any devoted Lightfoot fan - knew that the song, "Ghosts of Cape Horn", had been written for the film, as its title song. The documentary tells the story of sailing vessels making the trip around Cape Horn, before the Panama Canal was built. Like any Lightfoot story song, the lyrics tell a complex story in just a few minutes. The film runs approximately 55 minutes.
Here's the link to watch it: Ghosts of Cape Horn (film). Enjoy! Note: This video is Flash-based, so it won't be viewable on an Apple mobile product.
No DVD has been released ... I have suggested it ...
Massey Hall, May 2011
Toronto, ON, May 27, 2011 — Just a quick note to say that I arrived last night for the Thursday concert. My timing was perfect, given that I couldn't afford to take additional days off, nor could my husband.
Thursday's concert was the exact same set list as Wednesday &mdash because as it turns out, Wednesday was the "dress rehearsal" for a videotaping of the Thursday show! I'm not yet sure how it will be used, but the entire show was videotaped by a very professional crew that almost made their walks in back and forth in front of the stage part of the show.
Gord, to his credit, had obviously prepared himself for this and just shifted his gaze to a bit above the crew's heads and sang without missing a beat. The audio was recorded by Bob Doidge.
Friends who were here for both nights said that Wednesday was wonderful and Thursday was even better. So, as I said, my timing was perfect.
Two more shows to go ... I'll write more as I have time.
And yes, as reported by fans who saw shows earlier this spring, the new lead guitar player, Carter Lancaster, is wonderful. He captures the notes and the spirit of the familiar lead riffs, but plays them in his own style giving the songs a new, fresh sound ... proof of the magic that can happen when you put great musicians together.
Toronto, ON, May 28, 2011 — Friday's concert was another great show. This time, the band was much more relaxed; the pressures of live taping were behind them, and they could just have fun. And it was clear from watching and listening that they were having a ball. Standout songs from the evening were two of my favorites that were not included on the taped show: Don Quixote and Early Mornin' Rain. I knew that Gord would get them into at least one show. And the performance of Alberta Bound was something else, with first Carter and then Mike playing wonderful, spirited solos. That pretty much brought down the house (and, from their smiles, we could tell they were pleased too).
One more night ... but I have already decided that there will be at least one more concert for me this year ... Gord told me both Thursday and Friday that he'd be in NYC this Fall. Although I haven't lived in the city for more than 25 years, Gord associates me with it. I guess it's the first concert he remembers me from (Town Hall), although I had met him a couple of times before that. But I don't mind one bit if he thinks of me when he thinks of New York! I guess I'd better go to that one.
Back home ... May 31, 2011 — Saturday's concert was another spirited show, with a set list similar to Friday's but with one of the two songs that I had been hoping for added ... Song For A Winter's Night. I don't care if it's Spring going into Summer, that's a song that I love to hear played live, and Gord did not disappoint!
On this final night, Gord was in good voice, solos were spot on, and there were lots of smiles and a few laughs. We were even treated to some dueling banjos (the melody, not banjos). Gord was more talkative than on previous nights, with some new and some old jokes and song commentary. In his introduction to Early Mornin' Rain, he mentioned some of the greats who recorded it: the Kingston Trio, Ian & Sylvia, Peter, Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan and Elvis. Highlights for me were Sundown, Alberta Bound, Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald, Don Quixote, If You Could Read My Mind (probably the best of the three nights I attended), Early Mornin' Rain and, of course, Song For A Winter's Night. Well, all the songs were highlights, actually.
It should be eighteen months until the next Massey concerts ... I'll be there.
February 21, 2011, updated April 17th — Terry Clements, lead guitar player for Gordon Lightfoot for four decades, passed away on February 20th.
Clements suffered a stroke 10 days earlier, and had been in a coma. A special memorial service was held on April 10th in Toronto, attended by family, friends, bandmates, musician friends and fans. Ed Ringwald, aka Peewee Charles, recorded Amazing Grace especially for the memorial, a song which was a favorite to play for Terry and his family. If you'd like to hear Peewee's recording playing the dobro, with his good friend Shane Guse on fiddle, click here (mp3 file).
Lightfoot's first tour segment - starting March 15th - went on as scheduled, with a new lead player.
Gordon Lightfoot: Canadian Railroad Trilogy: Children's Book released in the US, Canada and the UK
August 2, 2010 — A new hardcover children's book, featuring the lyrics of the epic Canadian Railroad Trilogy, and illustrations by renowned writer/artist Ian Wallace, has been released in the US, Canada, and the UK.
The new book is a true work of art from start to finish, and pays appropriate tribute to one of the most brilliant songs ever written. With stunning pastels each carefully conceived to illustrate a small section of the song, the book will be a treasured addition to the library of anyone with a love of art, music or history.Read my complete review here: Canadian Railroad Trilogy Children's Book.
Toby Keith preceded his current American Ride Tour with an unexpected club show in New York City, and he's releasing his new album, Bullets In The Gun, in a Deluxe Edition which will add four live tracks from that show to the standard album.
Recorded during his "Incognito Bandito" show at The Fillmore in Manhattan, the four songs feature Keith on lead vocals backed by an A-list band of session players assembled exclusively for the rare club performance. The four covers are Johnny Paycheck's "11 Months And 29 Days," Waylon Jennings' "I've Been A Long Time Leaving (But I'll Be A Long Time Gone)," Roger Miller's "Chug-A-Lug" and Gordon Lightfoot's "Sundown". In a recent interview, Keith says of Sundown,
"We went to a rehearsal, and everybody kind of brought their favourite songs in and that Gordon Lightfoot song was on the list and I said, 'Absolutely, let's do that.' I put it on there 'cause it is a great song." - Canadian newspaper exclusive with QMI Agency
Bullets in the Gun was released on October 5th. Here's the video, which was initially posted at Amazon:
Forgive me if I get carried away here, but I consider this very exciting news. Toby Keith is one of the top country singers and top entertainers around, and the fact that he has chosen a Lightfoot song (and not a bad choice for a country tune, I might add), just might get that song on the charts again as a cover tune. Even if it isn't released as a single, it will surely introduce many new listeners to Lightfoot music.
The Cottars Cover Gordon Lightfoot Song on Latest CD, Feast
"Apart from the Pain, It's a Pleasure"
October 5, 2010 — About 6 months ago I received a review copy of a CD that has - quite honestly - blown me away. I asked for it because it included a Lightfoot cover, but as always I listened to the entire CD several times. And then I listened several more times. And then I found that I couldn't stop listening to it!
The CD is The Cottar's latest album, Feast (Amazon.com link, Amazon.ca link, , Amazon.co.uk link). The Cottars are a young quartet, actually in a 2nd configuration. Two of the performers, brother and sister, Ciaràn (vocals, piano, guitar, more) and Fiona MacGillivray (vocals, piano, more), were on the previous Cottars album; two are new on this album, Claire Pettit (vocals, fiddle, viola) and Bruce Timmins (vocals, guitars), a well-respected session player. But there is nothing "beginner-like" about this CD. Their music is a blend of Celtic, Cape Breton (where they are from), bluegrass and folk. The musicianship is nothing short of extraordinary; the vocals beautiful; the songwriting on their original tunes accomplished as well.
The Lightfoot cover that first caught my attention is of one of his less known tunes; a song called "Your Love's Return (Song for Stephen Foster)". It is, as the parenthetical portion of the title says, a tribute to Foster, in whose music Lightfoot had become interested at the time. It's a sentimental love song, very Foster-like.
The Cottars took this tune, with Fiona singing the lead vocals (not changing any lyrics which were written for a man to sing), added their own string arrangement and harmonies, and created something all their own yet faithful and respectful of the Lightfoot original. I am certain that Lightfoot is pleased with their cover, as he must be with the much more mainstream Toby Keith cover of "Sundown" (discussed elsewhere). Ciaràn is quoted in the liner notes as saying that the Lightfoot song just might be his favorite on the CD, and that is high praise as the disc is full of wonderful songs.
(I received a review copy of this CD from the artists).
An Interesting "Affair" (on 8th Avenue)
June 21, 2010 — Big News for the Dedicated Fan: The Gord's Gold version of Affair on 8th Avenue, never before available except on vinyl, is finally officially available in digital form. It is remastered and can be downloaded as an MP3 from Amazon or CD Universe. (If you buy from CD Universe, be sure to click on the "Buy MP3" button, or the "Buy MP3 Album" button when you buy; do not click on song names or you will be taken to a page with the earlier recordings!).
Remember, the CD of Gord's Gold does not include Affair on 8th Avenue because at the time the album was first reissued on CD, the time limit was 74 minutes including gaps and the album was just over that.
The Gord's Gold version of the song is in the more elaborate 1970s style of all the re-recorded songs on that album. Most Lightfoot fans prefer the re-recording (not true of all the songs, but it is of this one), and have missed having it all these year, making do with vinyl-to-digital copies they made themselves or found online. The new MP3, available on the official Gord's Gold digital album, is the first high quality, remastered version of this lovely recording.
Amazon Faux Pas:
Amazon was the first to offer the new MP3 album for sale, but they had more than a half dozen incorrect tracks, using an earlier version of many of the songs thate were re-recorded (that is, they used a United Artists version, from the 1960s, either the original recording or the live cut from Sunday Concert). I reported the problem to them (with great difficulty, I might add), and their eventual response was to pull the album entirely - clearly easier than fixing their files. Thankfully, the new song and the entire album remained downloadable from CD Universe during the months that Amazon did not have it available (it is now available from Amazon again). You can read the details of the Amazon fiasco here.
"... there's always the possibility of making a new album"
February 27, 2010 — A week after a reporting fiasco erroneously declared Gordon Lightfoot dead, Spartanburg Herald-Journal reporter Todd Money contributed a fine interview, conducted shortly before the death report hoax.
Almost buried in the interview is a paragraph that suggests that - contrary to what Lightfoot has said in interviews for the past 18 months or so - another original album is not out of the question!
Lightfoot Death Hoax fueled by CanWest reporter on Twitter
February 19, 2010 — Lightfoot was big news yesterday when a news alert by CanWest was Tweeted by one of its reporters, and then picked up and posted by several large Canadian newspapers. It turns out that the original news alert was based on a hoax perpetrated on fellow performer Ronnie Hawkins who truly believed that Lightfoot had died based on a message from someone purporting to be Lightfoot's grandson. Luckily, the man himself heard the news report on the radio, and quickly set the record straight, but it was a wild ride for about an hour yesterday afternoon.
May 21, 2009 -
'Eminem charts a fifth song from "Relapse," set to debut atop next week's Billboard 200, as "Beautiful" opens at No. 17 on the Hot 100. Of the five tracks, only "We Made You" launched higher (No. 9). The new song is the fifth by that title to appear on the Hot 100 in its 50-year history. The previous artists to make "Beautiful" music and their peaks: Gordon Lightfoot (No. 58, 1972), Christina Aguilera (No. 2, 2003), Snoop Dogg featuring Pharrell & Uncle Charlie Wilson (No. 6, 2003) and Akon featuring Colby O'Donis & Kardinal Offishall (No. 19, 2009) ...' Billboard.com story, emphasis mine.
The question is, which one of the other four will still be played and downloaded 37 years later? And, parenthetically, it's hard to believe that nobody charted a song named Beautiful for 31 years after Lightfoot's! Guess the bar was too high.
Click on the note below to buy the song from Amazon.
A DVD from Alison Krauss features a Lightfoot song!
November 6,2008; updated January 29, 2013 - To me this is big news! Alison Krauss is one of the most gifted and popular performers out there, with music crossing genre lines. I was introduced to her by other Lightfoot fans, who are always a good source of suggestions for other good music. Alison is best known for bluegrass music, but has made successful forays into other genres; her talent is that good.
The DVD has performances taped for a TV show, and these performances include duets with Brad Paisley, James Taylor, and John Waite, and performances with great musicians including her longtime band Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas (whose members are individually well known musicians), and with Tony Rice, Sam Bush, Stuart Duncan and others.
The name that caught my eye immediately was Tony Rice. He is a bluegrass guitar player extraordinaire, and himself recorded an entire album of Lightfoot songs with which many of you are familiar. Tony no longer sings, but he still plays, and he recently did a series of shows with Alison and her band.
I was unable to attend any of those shows (there were only a few of them), but on this DVD Alison has included a couple of performances with Tony Rice including a wonderful cover of Lightfoot's "Shadows". (Tony recorded the song himself years ago. You can find that recording, and many other Lightfoot covers, on Tony Rice Sings Gordon Lightfoot).
You won't read anywhere that "Shadows" is a Lightfoot song, but of course I guessed it immediately because Tony Rice was on the track, and Amazon had the "Shadows" video as the preview on the DVD web page, so I could take a look. There is no preview today, but the video is available on YouTube:
I can't say enough about Alison's music, and that of all the musicians she works with, but I can promise that if you buy this DVD you won't put it in a pile of videos you never watch!
The DVD also includes interview footage with all the special guests and musicians.
It can be be ordered from Amazon.com, using this link or any of the links above, including the DVD cover image.
Report on Toronto Massey Hall Concerts, May, 2008
May 26, 2008 - As all of you already know, the ritual "Massey Hall Concerts" took place May 7th through 10th.
Dating back to 1967, these concerts have been a fixture on the Toronto music schedule, with concerts every 12 or 18 months over more than 30 years.
Like many other Lightfoot fans, I travelled to Toronto and attended the last two concerts, plus the Friday afternoon Lightfoot fan jam session at a nearby pub, and the Saturday fan dinner before the final show. The comaraderie of these Lightfoot fans from around the world are a special part of the "Massey experience".
The Saturday night show was the highlight for me, and included two songs that Lightfoot doesn't do every night: Song For A Winter's Night and Canadian Railroad Trilogy. He introduced the latter song by saying that he borrowed the song structure ("fast, slow, fast") from Bob Gibson's Civil War Trilogy, but didn't admit it until many years later! (See the Bob Gibson web site at bobgibsonlegacy.com to find the original recording of Civil War Trilogy on Gibson & Camp at the Gate of Horn).
Probably the biggest news to come out of the Saturday show was Lightfoot's pre-announcement of his next Massey stand, saying something like, "if we're all still standing in 18 months, we'll be here". So will we!
As with recent Massey concert series, Bob Doidge, who recorded and co-produced Lightfoot's two most recent albums, and recorded and mixed the "Live in Reno" concert, recorded the concerts for possible future release.
I often come away from Lightfoot concerts regretting a missed opportunity to get a special autograph, but I did not let that happen this time. Here's my special souvenir of the weekend (Lightfoot picked the spot):
Gordon Lightfoot MP3s at Amazon / Warner Original Albums Out of Print
December 31, 2007, updated May 26, 2008, July 22, 2009, November 6, 2009 - Amazon has MP3s available for download, in addition to traditional CDs.
Most of the Warner Lightfoot albums are available as MP3 albums, in addition to his United Artists material, and his latest CD, Harmony.
However, all of the Warner original albums are now apparently out of print in the US, but have been reissued by a small, independent label (see article elsewhere on this site). But MP3s are a good alternative if you "do digital", and Amazon's MP3s have no rights management code. For the Warner CDs, I occasionally have a few of them available in my own Lightfoot store, and will be on the lookout for more, so you can check there.
The albums Sundown and Summertime Dream were added to the available MP3 albums. If you are missing some of the original albums, you may want to think about buying them soon while you still can (See my original album pages for links). All four "big songs" are available for download (see more below).
Amazon MP3s have no rights management and can be played on any PC or MP3 player. You can also burn the MP3s to a CD-R. You'll find some links to specific MP3s or MP3 albums on different pages of this site.
This "Digital 45" is priced at a discount, compared to the price for two songs, so if you don't have the Summertime Dream album, you might want to take advantage of it (in fact, if you buy it plus the other 8 songs from Summertime Dream, you still save a little bit, as the album is not discounted at this time). Listen to clips and read the lyrics here.
March 10, 2008 -
OK, folks. If you don't play guitar and don't want to hear about it, skip this review. And, if you do play guitar, please understand that I am a beginner who has never progressed because I don't practice. Five times a year definitely does not work!
However, thanks primarily to some very accomplished guitar playing friends, especially Cathy Cowette, I have a good deal of knowledge about guitar playing - at least in my head, if not in my fingers. I know and understand the terminology, and have mastered a few of the techniques, but can only play slowly. However, with this knowledge, I think I do know what to look for in a guitar instruction video that teaches how to play Lightfoot songs - and this video definitely has what should be there. And Pete Huttlinger, a National Fingerstyle Guitar Champion, composer, and arranger, is a great person to teach it. (The link is to Pete's instructional DVDs at Sheet Music Plus).
First, let me briefly comment on the song selection. All of my guitar playing friends had the same reaction I did: the song selection is definitely not what any of us would have chosen. After watching the video, I realized why. Pete has limited his selection to songs which were on Gord's Gold, an album that he specifically mentions as a personal favorite. Yes, it's a great album, but choosing only from that one album - and a somewhat odd selection from there - leaves most of us wanting more. Which, when you get down to it, is not a problem. It leaves Pete with a great opportunity. But there are many gems not on Gord's Gold, and it would have been nice to see one or two of them here.
Sheet music & instruction
Of the songs he teaches, only Early Mornin' Rain and If You Could Read My Mind were obvious choices. Some of the others are songs almost nobody plays, but throwing them into the mix is a good thing. Steel Rail Blues and Bitter Green, in particular, are songs that I am delighted are on here, and someday I might tackle them. But, even if drawing only from Gord's Gold, I would like to have seen Song For A Winter's Night, Don Quixote, and Sundown at a minimum. And Pete should have waded beyond Gord's Gold to include Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, the song Lightfoot considers his best (although there are a few other candidates for that honor, including Canadian Railroad Trilogy which would have taken half the video, so I can understand why Pete didn't chose that one).
The format of the instrucion is excellent, and I assume it is a pattern he has followed in his prior instructional videos (including Jim Croce and John Denver songs). He plays a bit of the song, takes it apart and teaches fretting and right hand technique (but, perhaps revealingly, not for the strummed songs), plays the parts slowly at first and then brings the tempo up to normal. By using the terminology and illustrating visually, his lessons will work for anyone past rank beginner, up to a strong intermediate player. His comments on which fingers he uses for fretting various chords to allow for easy transitions to or from that chord provide useful input to even the more accomplished intermediate player. And there are other interesting techniques and parts he teaches that would be of interest to the advanced player who either doesn't have the ear or the time to figure out out exactly what is being played, or how to play a mixture of lead and rhythm simultaneously.
An unexpected bonus is the inclusion of the lead guitar solos on several of the songs, and occasionally incorporating them so that one guitar player can get elements of the lead in addition to Gord's rhythm part. Pete does this on If You Could Read My Mind, playing Red Shea's lead part. This isn't something one expects to get on an instructional video! Very nice, indeed.
From his casual comments throughout the video, I conclude that Pete has not attended many Lightfoot concerts; in fact, it wouldn't surprise me if he never attended any. Again, don't get me wrong; I am not saying that the video is flawed as a result. It isn't. But he speculates about Gord's playing technique, and even what parts Gord plays, as no guitar player who has been to a concert would. Pete does, however, actually use his thumb to fret the D/F#, with a comment about how that technique is frowned on by classical players. Of course Gord, and just about every folk and folk rock guitarist from the 60s and 70s plays that way! And in speculating on whether Gord plays the 12 string part in the recording of Early Mornin' Rain, Pete reveals that he hasn't been struck by Gord's driving 12 string strumming, which is both powerful and instantly recognizable.
But, Pete is a fingerstyle specialist, and that is where his teaching really shines. He covers Travis style picking, and the interesting pattern that Lightfoot has said he learned from his dentist (the pattern used in If You Could Read My Mind, as well as Beautiful and Softly which are not on the video). He also comments on his use of emphasis on certain beats of the picking pattern to highlight the melody; Lightfoot also uses it effectively to provide a driving beat behind the vocals.
The key and tuning isn't always what would be expected. For some songs Pete plays in a different key from Gord, while with others he plays in the same key, which is unusual since one's vocal range generally dictates the key one chooses. And Early Mornin' Rain is normally played in dropped D tuning; Pete teaches it in standard tuning, perhaps to simplify it. He also plays Cold On The Shoulder without a capo; Gord plays it with the capo on the 3rd fret. Again, one can play the song in whatever key one wants, so this is just an observation not a criticism.
This 2 hour DVD includes instruction for eight songs, from the easiest to the most difficult. The songs are: Early Mornin' Rain, Carefree Highway, Rainy Day People, Circle of Steel, Steel Rail Blues, Bitter Green, If You Could Read My Mind and Cold on the Shoulder. Standard tab notation, treble clef notation, and chord names and patterns are provided in the accompanying booklet.
If you have always wanted to learn how to play these Lightfoot standards, but never learned how, this video is definitely for you; plus, you will learn some good playing techniques that you can use when you play other music.
My links above (title and image) are to Sheet Music Plus, an especially good source for guitar instruction and sheet music, although sometimes Amazon has better prices.
The two hour special captures the sounds of the decade, from the folk music of Ian and Sylvia, and the rhythm ’n’ blues of Ronnie Hawkins, to the many other legendary stars like Joni Mitchell, The Guess Who, Neil Young, Anne Murray, The Band, cult heroes like David Wiffen, The Collectors and Mashmakhan, and some of Canada’s brightest younger stars including Blue Rodeo, Barenaked Ladies and Sarah Harmer.
The special is full of candid interviews with more than 60 iconic figures like Gordon Lightfoot (of course), Buffy Sainte-Marie and Bruce Cockburn, who offer illuminating stories about each other. The Lightfoot content includes interview segments plus clips of archival performances of "Canadian Railroad Trilogy," "Early Morning Rain" and "Did She Mention My Name." It also features a clip of Ron Sexsmith's cover of "If You Could Read My Mind." And, strewn throughout are mentions by other artists of Lightfoot's influence on them and on the emergence of Canadian music worldwide.
In addition to the original two hour broadcast, the DVD has bonus interviews with several of the key artists, including a new interview with Lightfoot. Other bonus interviews are with Randy Bachman, Bruce Cockburn, Burton Cummings, Robbie Lane, Murray McLauchlan, Anne Murray, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Sylvia Tyson. The interviews are pieced together from what I assume were live interview sessions, and offer some interesting insights into the experiences and influences of each of these artists. Would you believe Lightfoot mentions Bruce Springsteen as a creative influence?
Shakin' All Over is based on the book "Before the Gold Rush - Flashbacks to the Dawn of the Canadian Sound" (sadly out of print), by Nicholas Jennings, who also wrote the liner notes for two Lightfoot CD releases. Jennings has followed the Canadian music scene for decades, and his knowledge and insight probably make him the premier Canadian music historian. If you haven't read his wonderful biography of Lightfoot in the Songbook boxed set, you should do that.
Along with the recent book by Bob Mercereau, just released in paperback, (see my review), this DVD sheds new light on the history of Canadian music, while featuring some of her greatest musical talents.
Unfortunately, it is already out of print, but is still available new from 3rd party sellers at Amazon (full Amazon guarantee applies). The links above are for Amazon.com; Canadian residents may prefer to buy through Amazon Canada, although in many cases it's the same sellers!
Gordon Lightfoot Tour Dates
New and recently updated concerts are in bold type; past dates (when shown) in gray.
Note: On sale info is best available. Always check with venue too. I have included links to purchase tickets and to the venue's web site whereever possible.
Some concerts have a pre-sale period ("presale") for which you need a password to order early. When I have a presale password, you can get it by (re-)signing up for my mailing list. Just click on the presale link next to the concert listing and sign up; the password will be in the acknowledgment message. (You will still be on the mailing list just once).
For serious booking inquiries in the US, please contact Lightfoot's agent, Stephan Boyd, IPA, Inc., tel: (615) 469-2200. Email: email@example.com
Join my Mailing List for Lightfoot news, including the latest information about concert dates.
** All tour information is from official sources, or other reliable sources; sometimes venues or promoters will announce a concert and even start ticket sales before there is an official announcement from Lightfoot's office. In addition, you should always verify concert information with the venue, which does not always list a concert as soon as it is announced by Lightfoot.
Anne Murray and Olivia Newton-John
Record Cotton Jenny for Anne's Duets CD Nominated for a Juno as Album of the Year
Anne Murray's Duets: Friends & Legends hit the US charts on January 21st, debuting at #42. She first hit the pop album chart in 1970 with Snowbird, which featured her top 10 single of the same name. Her highest-charting album was Let's Keep It That Way, in 1978, which reached #12 and included her #1 hit "You Needed Me." This album has been nominated for a Juno, the Canadian Grammy, for Album of the Year.
The highlight for any Lightfoot fan will probably be her duet recording of Lightfoot's Cotton Jenny with Olivia Newton-John.
The track was recorded at the Capitol Recording studio in Los Angeles, and was produced by Phil Ramone.
Both Anne Murray and Olivia Newton-John recorded a Lightfoot song early in their careers; Anne recorded Cotton Jenny and Olivia recorded If You Could Read My Mind, both released in 1971.
The other artists, all female voices that Anne admires, include Shania Twain, Martina McBride, Nelly Furtado, Isabelle Boulay, k.d. lang, Celtic Woman, Carole King, Olivia Newton-John, Emmylou Harris, Jann Arden, Shelby Lynn, Sarah Brightman, Celine Dion, Amy Grant, Indigo Girls, Dusty Springfield and Anne's daughter, Dawn Langstroth. The duet of "I Just Fall In Love Again" used Dusty Springfield's original 1979 recording; Dusty passed away in 1999.
Sarah McLachlan's Wintersong: Canadian recording artist Sarah McLachlan's first Christmas album earned a Grammy nomination for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. Sarah has already garnered three Grammy Awards over the years.
Wintersong jumped into the Billboard top 10 this week, entering at #7, and it has also already been certified gold by the RIAA for U.S. sales in excess of 500,000 units. Needless-to-say, perhaps, it is #1 on Billboard's Top Holiday Albums Chart.
The album is unusual for its genre, combining recordings of traditional Christmas songs like What Child Is This, O Little Town Of Bethlehem, and Silent Night, covers of more secular but seasonal songs by contemporary songwriters like John Lennon (Happy Xmas (War Is Over)), Joni Mitchell (River) and Gordon Lightfoot (Song For A Winter's Night) and a new original, the title track, Wintersong. Other tracks are American holiday standards I'll Be Home For Christmas, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, and Christmas Time Is Here, and the album is completed by In the Bleak Mid Winter, and the medley The First Noel/Mary Mary.
Sarah clearly has a fondness for the Lightfoot song, having recorded it in the early 90s and released it on her somewhat obscure album, Rarities, B-sides, and Other Stuff. With only the winter theme, and sleigh bells in the Lightfoot version, the song has nevertheless become a modern Christmas standard - even though it was written during a summer thunderstorm in Cleveland! Sarah recorded it and has sung it in concert appearances for more than a decade.
Her first recording was featured on earlier holiday compilations and also on the soundtrack CD for the Miracle on 34th Street remake (although it did not appear in the movie, if I recall correctly). Now the song receives an even more more prominent placement as one of the highlights of Sarah's own holiday album (listen to clip or download MP3 at Amazon here).
In 2005, Rhino reissued Gord's Gold, Lightfoot's 1975 Greatest Hits album. This CD was withdrawn in 2002, shortly after the release of Complete Greatest Hits. For those not familiar with the various "Greatest Hits" collections, Gord's Gold was released in 1975, and contains recordings taken from his early 1970s albums, plus new recordings of songs he originally wrote and recorded in the 1960s. The style is consistently "1970s Lightfoot", and many of the rerecordings have become fan favorites.
Complete Greatest Hits was released in 2002. It is the only single CD collection that includes recordings from throughout his career, from those released on United Artists in 1966 through one song, Restless, from his 1993 CD, Waiting For You. Each of these CDs, as well as
Gord's Gold, Vol. 2 - with new (1988) recordings of 14 songs plus 4 from earlier albums - contains an important part of the Lightfoot legacy.
All of his CDs that are still in print, including his latest original CD Harmony (2004), are available at many web sites online and some are available from My Lightfoot store.
Don Williams New CD Reflections, Review
March 11,2014 — Sugar Hill Records has just released "Reflections", a new CD from Don Williams. Working again with longtime producer Garth Fundis, Don releases his second CD since his return from what turned out to be a brief "retirement". Known as country music's "Gentle Giant", the Country Music Hall of Fame member has released nearly 30 original albums, most recently the highly acclaimed "And So It Goes", in 2012.
It's a lovely collection of songs, about love, the working man, and family, all themes he has sung about in the past. The songwriters include Townes Van Zandt ("I'll Be Here In The Morning"), Merle Haggard ("Sing Me Back Home"), Jesse Wincheser ("If I Were Free"), and Steve GIllette & Rex Benson ("Healing Hands"), and every one of them is a master of his craft. WIth the songs in the hands of Don Williams, the result is an album that might be Don's best ever.
Don's style is a mixture of country and pop (he listened to both growing up), and appeals to a wide audience, He has been a strong presense on the airways and music charts for decades. He is one of many major recording artists to have recorded a Gordon Lightfoot song; the often covered "If You Could Read My Mind" was his choice. And, showing that his musical taste overlaps with mine, he has also previously recorded three songs written or co-written by Steve Gillette; "Back on the Street Again" by Steve alone, and two songs by Steve and Charles John Quarto: "(That Song About) The River" and "The Old Trail" (the latter as a duet with Kathy Mattea). And now, on Reflections, he has recorded a fourth song co-written by Steve, "Healing Hands".
I became aware of the latest CD project early last June, when Rex Benson, another frequent co-writer with Steve, tweeted that one of their songs, "Healing Hands", had been just been recorded by Don Williams. That meant that a new Williams CD was in the works, but there was as yet no certainty that the song would make the cut. "Healing Hands" had been written 21 years earlier, and released on Steve's album, "The Ways of The World" — an album that has already produced four songs that were recorded by major artists: the two Charles John Quarto co-writes that Don had previously recorded, plus "Bed of Roses", written with Rex Benson, and recorded most famously by Kenny Rogers, and "Grapes on the Vine", written with Charles John Quarto, and recorded by Waylon Jennings, Tony Rice and others.
Steve & Rex have collaborated before, on "Bed of Roses", mentioned above, "Glass Houses", recorded by Tammy Wynette (duet with Joe Diffie), and "Unto You This Night", which Garth Brooks put on his very popular Christmas album. Any song penned by Steve & Rex is likely to be notable, and "Healing Hands" is no exception.
I have listened to all the songs, in order, many times. This is a great CD - one I would probably not have discovered had I not been a Steve Gillette fan and friend. I enjoy hearing covers of his songs, just as I enjoy hearing covers of Lightfoot songs, and have always enjoyed good Country music, especially the traditional county sound that Don exemplifies.
Hard Four, Final Movie Role, Available on DVD and Instant Video
December, 2010 - Hard Four, Hamilton's final movie role, was finally released to DVD in July of 2010. It has a cast consisting of many very funny people, and it's a shame that the movie never made it to the theaters. But, thankfully, you can now buy the DVD and add Hamilton's final acting role to your collection. You can purchase the DVD from Amazon here, or downloaded the movie as an instant video here.
Here's To You Album - Finally Available on CD-R
In late 2010, I discovered that Hamilton Camp's 1967 album, Here's To You was about to be released on CD. Although it does contain a hit single - the title track - it did not seem to be a priority for CD release, especially after several years of availability as a download, but it was a pleasant surprise. And I do suspect that most of his fans - being of a certain age (like me) - would much prefer to have a physical disc in our hands!
Here's To You, the song, reached #76 on the pop singles chart in 1968. For those of us who discovered him as part of the Gibson & Camp duo, it hard to believe that the "folkie" Camp is the one singing it! But, moving with the times, he adapted his style to produce a very "pop" sounding single. You can listen to clips of this song, and all the songs on the album, here. NB: This is not folk music, but 60s pop!
Hamilton was accompanied and assisted on this album by all stars like Jerry Scheff, Van Dyke Parks, Hal Blaine, Earl Palmer, Bud Shank and producer Felix Pappalardi.
Needless-to-say, any of the other available CDs can be ordered as well, if you find you are missing any from your collection. The original Gibson & Camp at the Gate of Horn is out of print, at least for now, but we still have a couple of copies.
Hamilton Camp Dies at 70
October, 2005 - I am extremely sad to report that Hamilton Camp died suddenly on October 2. I had only known him for 20 months, but I am proud to say that he was a good friend, and I am shattered by his death as are his family and his fans and friends from around the world.
An accomplished character actor who was sought after by directors because of his reputation of being able to make a role, he appeared in numerous films, stage productions (including Broadway), television, and as a voice actor on animated films and video games. Some of his most notable TV roles were on the short lived He and She, in 1967, and in popular TV series including Mary Tyler Moore, Mash, Too Close for Comfort, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.
Although his primary career was as an actor - a choice he made because it wouldn't require constant travel away from his family - he also pursued a music career and wove it in and out of his life for 5 decades. He is best known as a member of the Gibson & Camp duo, whose 1961 album Live At The Gate Of Horn was acclaimed as one of the most influentual folk recordings of its time. He and Bob Gibson reunited periodically for more than 35 years, until Gibson's death in 1996, performing at special reunion shows and releasing two other albums together. It was Gibson's daugher, Meridian Green, who was thoughtful enough to think to call me as soon as she heard that Hamilton had died.
Hamilton also released four solo albums, and one album with a group of friends known as the Skymonters. He had a minor hit in 1968 with Here's To You, which reached #76 on the top 100 chart, and his folk classic Pride Of Man (Buy MP3) was recorded by Quicksilver Messenger Service, which had a hit with it, and by Gordon Lightfoot and Tony Rice.
Just days before his death, he completed the artwork for his last CD. It has many new original songs, a new recording of Pride Of Man, and several covers including Dylan's Ring Them Bells (which Lightfoot also recorded). You know what they say about great minds! Camp's new original song, Long Train, is stunning, as is his musical interpretation of Yeats and Byron poetry (Celts/Go No More A Rovin'). Click on "More info", under the cover image, to hear clips and see the entire track listing.
Sweet Joy is available at his web site, along with several earlier CDs, both solo and with Bob Gibson. If you are interested in learning more about him, or wish to buy one of his CDs, please visit his web site here: Hamilton Camp Official Web Site.
I can't begin to say how much I will miss him. I looked forward to our frequent online chats. He was warm, compassionate, funny, clever ... I can't think of enough adjectives. He loved the sounds on Yahoo Messenger, and often had me in stitches when he inserted one into an otherwise serious discussion. He was passionate about everything he did, not only his dual professions, but also special projects that he took on including being the Treasurer (!) for a health relief non-profit that was caring for Tsunami victims. What was amazing was not that he was doing his part to help others, but that this talented musician and actor learned Quickbooks so he could do a job that had to be done. Somehow, I don't think accounting was one of his favorite things, nor something for which he had a special gift, but he did what was necessary to help out a worthy cause.
I feel very privileged to have known him, and can be slightly comforted by the fact that he was doing what he enjoyed every day, and had the satisfaction of seeing his CD project to completion and just as he wanted it. And I have the satisfaction of knowing that late in the recording process, when he was discouraged about one of the songs because he couldn't get it the way he wanted it, I urged him to try again. He did, and this song is on the CD.
I will miss him terribly.
Rare Studio Recordings from Jim Dixon's Archives
December 23, 2011 - Sixties Tradition is an extraordinary CD with rare studio recordings from the archives of noted L.A. record producer and the father of the folk-rock sound, Jim Dickson (Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers and others). Based on the rare Together Records album "Early L.A." the highlights include early Byrds recordings, the first, never before released recording of the 60s peace anthem, "Get Together" by its composer, singer Dino Valenti (later of Quick Silver Messenger Service) and Hamilton Camp & The Byrds with a newly discovered 1965 studio recording of Dylan's "The Times They Are A Changin". Other tracks include a rare instrumental recording by David Crosby (The Byrds, CSNY) and jazz musicians Bud Shank and Joe Pass, "Charisma", other early Crosby recordings, and Hillmen recordings (with Chris Hillman), along with never before released bluegrass-rock recordings of the original Dillards. I am selling this CD on the Hamilton Camp site because of the extraordinary "new" Hamilton Camp recording, but the album should be of interest to many others who are interested in the origins of folk rock, and the early recordings of some of the finest artists of the period.
This Byrds incarnation features Roger McGuinn, legendary guitar player Clarence White, bassist Skip Battin and drummer Gene Parsons in front of an enthusiastic London audience at the venerable Royal Albert Hall. Thankfully, Roger had this recording safely stored, and it will now be available for all of us to enjoy, not only on CD, but also on vinyl. You may also download it as an MP3 album.
Following close on the heels of the Live Byrds album, Roger is releasing his most recent solo album, Live from Spain (CD), on vinyl, scheduled for early September. I may have to buy myself a new turntable!
Martin Guitar Announces Second Roger McGuinn 7-String!
April, 2007 - Forgive me for being slow on the uptake here, but Martin Guitar announced a new, more affordable 7-string guitar, the Roger McGuinn D-7 Signature Edition, back in January of this year. This guitar is based on the HD-7, a limited edition announced in early 2005 (see article just below). The D-7, also with the doubled G string, lists for $2999.00, about half of the original 7-string. To learn more about the new guitar, visit the Martin web site at D-7 Signature Edition. And, if you decide to buy one, let me know!
February, 2005 - Martin Guitar has announced the Roger McGuinn Special Edition guitar, the HD-7, based on
the HD-28V, a herringbone vintage Martin. But this is a really unique guitar because it is a 7-string; it's a 6 string guitar except that the G string is doubled, like on a 12-string guitar. Roger McGuinn, of course, is the founder of The Byrds, and has enjoyed a long, creative solo career as well.
(For those of you who don't play guitar, a 6-string guitar has the strings (normally) tuned to E-A-D-G-B-E; a 12 has a pair for each "string"; both strings in the pair are tuned to the same note, but on the E through G pair, one string is lighter and is tuned an octave higher. On the HD-7, only the G string has an octave pair).
The key to this guitar is that, with the doubled G string, one can play the trademark McGuinn "jingle-jangle" sound (think Tambourine Man or Turn, Turn, Turn), yet still have the flexibility of a 6 string; a "Swiss army knife" of guitars, as Roger calls it. Read the sidebar for Dick Boak's comments, and listen to this audio clip from a demo (captured on camcorder) that Roger gave at Martin for more about the guitar: (RealMedia clip).
You can read the specs for this remarkable new guitar at the Martin web site using the direct link here, and read the article from the latest edition of their Sounding Board newsletter here (HTML format) or here (PDF format with additional images, Acrobat required). The Martin Guitar web site is at martinguitar.com.