Five Things We Didn’t Know About Gordon Lightfoot Until Now
This year will be busy for Gordon Lightfoot. A new studio album and tour that will bring him to Casino NB in November are among the highlights. A recent documentary “If You Could Read My Mind’ exposes some little know facts about this Canadian Icon.
REGRETS? HE HAS A FEW.
Lightfoot admits his lyrics don’t always turn out perfectly. A few years ago, he changed a line in “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” – “At 7 p.m. a main hatchway caved in” became “At 7 p.m. it grew dark, it was then …” – when he learned that the 1975 shipping tragedy had not involved a caved-in hatch, which suggested human error on the part of the crew.
But he has made changes for more personal reasons, once modifying a line in the title song, “If You Could Read My Mind,” from “the feelings that you lack,” to “the feelings that we lack.” The song is about one of his divorces, and his daughter reminded him that such things are seldom about just one party in the marriage.
HE HAS FANS WHERE YOU LEAST EXPECT THEM
The documentary interviews some well-known Canadian singers including Sarah McLachlan and Anne Murray, and reveals a long-time mutual admiration between Lightfoot and Bob Dylan. But time and again who should pop up but celebrity Lightfoot fan Alec Baldwin? “This is a guy who sang poems,” says the smitten actor.
HE GOT HIS START AS A DRUMMER
After a stint in a barbershop quartet, the pre-famous Lightfoot was a drummer in a band, a fact that may have contributed to the distinctive beats in his guitar-playing style. He also got an office job at Royal Bank, but gave it up to concentrate on his music, thank heavens.
HE NEVER KNEW WHEN INSPIRATION WOULD STRIKE
Lightfoot’s “Song for a Winter’s Night,” considered inspired by Canadian winters, evoking firelight and a glass of wine, was written in a Cleveland hotel room on a muggy summer evening, when Lightfoot was missing his homeland and his loved ones there.
CANADIAN LIVING MAY HAVE SAVED HIM
Lightfoot was drinking heavily in the early 1980s, a fact that hurt his relationships and his music at the time. Canoeing, camping trips and a general woodsy lifestyle coincided with his recovery, and no doubt aided his already distinctly Canadian musical output.