Last night I had the privilege of seeing, listening to, and meeting Canadian Icon Gordon Lightfoot. As anyone who grew up in the post-folkie/hippie 70s, my earliest exposure to Gord was somewhat forced. Canadian radio, AM in particular, had a government-mandated duty to expose and promote (and subsequently play to death) Canadian music. Artists like Lightfoot, Burton Cummings and Anne Murray could basically record anything they wanted knowing that they had a built-in armada of outlets to foist their sometimes-questionable wares upon the good listenership of the Great White North. Sure enough, with my parents' radio locked on 590 CKEY, I heard plenty of Gord, even if it was the same 5 songs over and over....
Over time, I got to explore Lightfoot's deeper catalogue, beyond the hits, and dreadful "Gord's Gold-esque" re-recordings of same and discovered that for every "Sundown", there was a "Song For A Winter's Night". For every "Everything For Love", there was a "For Lovin' Me". Sometimes lush, but always melodic, the songs were indeed beautiful, even if the trademark Lightfoot whine made the lyrics somewhat of a mystery.
Which brings us up to our meeting. On this rainy day, people queued for over an hour to hear Gord speak of his history, his craft, his family, his near-death experience, and name-drop not only his fellow troubadours, but also the names of widows of the crew of the Edmund Fitzgerald, with whom he's consulted not only for lyrical accuracy, but also out of respect for their loss. Fascinating stuff. A bonus performance on a borrowed guitar, and dime, gave everyone what they truly wanted to hear.
Like most old men, particularly of his vocation, Gord has a tendency to, let's say, extrapolate. His lengthy responses to questions posed by Indigo owner Heather Reisman, flustered the chief
Photos taken on April 23, 2012 at Indigo Books, Manulife Centre, Toronto, Ontario.