Stretching back many decades of my life is a constant inspiration, even more prevalent today, who has shared his genius onto us. Happiness of the soul fills me when Mr. Gordon Lightfoot sings.
The world welcomed Canada’s Greatest Singer/Songwriter on November 17, 1938 in Orillia, Ontario. Mr. Gordon Lightfoot spent years in the 1960’s crafting music for other performers in the United States and Canada, but never having much success as a solo musician. Everything changed in the late 1960’s when a re-release of “If You Could Read My Mind” suddenly reached meteoric heights of critical and commercial acclaim.
What followed was a string of hits that took the country by storm. Mr. Gordon Lightfoot’s folk style combined with poetic lyrics and real heartfelt emotion enthralled music lovers everywhere. Classics like Sundown and Rainy Day People are evocative of The Beatles Eleanor Rigby and the feelings of loneliness they describe. The wanderers among us can feel the lure of the journey through Carefree Highway. And possibly his second greatness masterpiece, The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald, propels the listener into one of Canada’s biggest tragedies. The song is a powerful tribute to the fallen.
This deserved success resulted in multiple artists covering Mr. Gordon Lightfoot’s wondrous music, and numerous accolades being bestowed upon him. From compilation albums to the Order of Canada, his homeland have shown their appreciation of his amazing talents. But during his career various pitfalls troubled the man. A first marriage broken up because of his infidelity and a second also recently ended, Mr. Gordon Lightfoot has had at intervals dealt with alcoholism as well. These topics he has covered numerous times, very openly, in many interviews.
My own dealings with his music started when I was a small child, spending part of my summers with my Grandparents. They lived nearby Orillia and my Grandma would regale me with tales of one of her favourite musicians. Her affection for this man and all he had overcome were obvious. As the years went by, my own love for his talents grew. Grandma had planted the seed. And I had nurtured it.
Flashforward to the year before our wedding, when we were picking out music for the ceremony. The power of Mr. Gordon Lightfoot was something I shamefully realized I had not shared with my love. Thereby one of the songs played during the photos was “If You Could Read My Mind”, and Grandma smiled from above. Some time later we purchased tickets to one of his concerts, but it was unfortunately delayed when he was stricken with a serious illness. But we finally, months and months later, sat in the audience and basked in the glory of the legend. Beautiful.
This past summer was when the global reach of Mr. Gordon Lightfoot’s magic was illuminated to me. On a wonderful Saturday evening in late August, a group of us geeks were departing FanExpo on our way to merriment. We were strolling up Simcoe Street, approaching Front Street, and several musicians were playing on different corners. And one gentleman, set up on the south-east corner had a steel drum in his possession. The magic that came from him floated down to greet us. My ears perked up, as did my newfound friend Murd from Comic Geek Speak. We exchanged looks, then smiles, and just I uttered “I know this song”, Murd responded in his customary mellow voice “Gordon Lightfoot.” All talk between us of Superman or Phineas and Ferb vanished, replaced with a mutual admiration. A golden spontaneous moment of pure fandom, something to savour in life. And this moment was the impetus of this tale. And the song was, by the way, “If You Could Read My Mind.”
Mr. Gordon Lightfoot. You have crafted music for my life. Tunes that I played to as a child. Followed by melodies that filled my wedding day. And harmonies that created perfect moments of clarity right on the streets of Toronto. Besides myself you have effected so many for so long with your gifts. And we all thank you for it.
P.S. All music is copyright to Gordon Lightfoot.