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Old 03-23-2008, 08:21 AM   #1
Auburn Annie
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Default Appleton WI article

Gordon Lightfoot still gets a kick out of writing good songs

By Kara Patterson
Post-Crescent staff writer

Canadian folk singer and songwriter Gordon Lightfoot, who broke into the music business four decades ago, is still going strong in the 21st century.


Lightfoot, 69, who lives in Toronto when he's not on tour with his four back-up musicians, performs 55 shows a year across North America. His most recent of 20 albums, "Harmony," was released in 2004. He's recognized in The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame and also is a recipient of Canada's Governor General's Award, the country's highest official honor.


In advance of his March 30 concert at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in downtown Appleton, we chatted with Lightfoot about singing and songwriting. Read on to find out which song of his has deeply affected him.


Q: When did it hit you that you might want to become a musician?


Lightfoot: Very early on, I think perhaps by the time I was 19. I'd been singing all through school and church and the whole business. But I really didn't feel that I should go for it until I was about 19.


Q: What happened to make you hone in on that, that it might be your calling?


Lightfoot: I talked my parents into letting me go to a school in Los Angeles. I took an arranging course and when I went back to Toronto I got a job. I was working transcribing songs off tapes and this guy heard me playing piano and singing and he said, what's the song. I said it's my song. I was working on a song on the piano. It was very interesting. He first became my mentor for three or four years. He even got me down to Nashville for a recording session. I had to go through a whole growing up period in the business itself, which took about 10 years. I started out as a singer and dancer on a television variety series. I really did not write a good song until I had written about 30 or 40 songs.


Q: What's your philosophy on music?


Lightfoot: I want something that's going to work on stage. If I'm writing something I'm always trying to write one that I can get up and play up on stage and believe in. If I can't begin to believe in the song many songs have never been performed on stage. It's to make one feel real good about singing it and playing it. I always did that, long before I had a recording contract.


Q: Do you have a favorite of the songs you've done that is very meaningful to you?


Lightfoot: The one (song) that really has to mean the most is the real one, and that's "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." It's a very powerful song to play on stage. You can feel the energy. I was on a roll and I was writing songs for a record and the event took place, and I had a melody and I had some chords and I got the newspaper articles and I got it into chronological order and I wrote a folk song about the sinking of a freighter in Lake Superior in a real bad storm. The next thing I knew I had a song. It means so much to so many people and it's been such a responsibility for me, too. We had an event for family members 10 years ago in Michigan; we had over 800 people there. I always meet them. I meet them everywhere I go. We've sung the song everywhere.


Q: When you're not touring, do you spend most of your time writing songs?


Lightfoot: First of all, I go to the gym. I go to the gym a lot. And I practice, and I practice a lot. I run the business a lot. And I spend all the rest of this time looking after my five children from age 14 to age 43.


Q: What advice would you give to up-and-coming songwriters and musicians?


Lightfoot: Get some songs, get a repertoire. Find the songs. Write the songs. Get songs. That's the first step, wherever you get them. Listen to CDs.


Q: Over your professional lifetime, who have been some of your influences?


Lightfoot: Bob Dylan is my main influence, main man. Not only do I appreciate his music a great deal but just because I know him personally. He and I were once managed by the same office, the same manager. I got to meet him that way. Wonderful writer, great guy. He's done somewhere between 50 and 60 original albums. That's really, that is a lot of work. Very, very prolific.

Kara Patterson: 920-993-1000, ext. 215, or kpatterson@postcrescent.com
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Old 03-23-2008, 08:44 AM   #2
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A great interview, a lot of it I had heard him talk about it before. But still very interesting to hear what this gracious man has to say. Thanks for posting it Annie.
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Old 03-23-2008, 12:47 PM   #3
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Default Re: Appleton WI article

Yahoooo, one week from today I'll be in Appleton. Thanks for posting the interview.

Vickie
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Old 03-23-2008, 02:06 PM   #4
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Yea Moosedog,

How excited you must be. I hope you have a wonderful time and feel the music like you never have before.

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Old 03-23-2008, 08:56 PM   #5
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I have to say that when I read that headline in a google alert I was for a while filled with hope but in fact the actual interview does not justify the reporters optimistic title. Oh well!!
Just my tuppenceworth!!
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Old 03-24-2008, 01:11 AM   #6
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Perhaps he gets a kick out of other people writing good songs.
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Old 03-24-2008, 07:57 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moosedog View Post
Yahoooo, one week from today I'll be in Appleton. Thanks for posting the interview.

Vickie
Have a great time at the show Moosedog, and please come back here to tell us about it.
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Old 03-24-2008, 08:17 AM   #8
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I will, JJ! Planning to leave Thursday afternoon for Manistee, then heading out first thing Friday a.m. for Waukegan. Spending Saturday with family in the Chicago area, then it's north to Appleton. I heard those dreaded words "Winter Storm Watch" for Thursday/Friday on the news this morning, however, so hopefully that won't affect my plans.

Vickie
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Old 03-24-2008, 12:59 PM   #9
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Long time lurker,First time poster. Been a fan of Gordon's since early 70's.Seen hioim only once...San Diego in 1978. Will see him again In Appleton on Sunday.
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Old 03-24-2008, 01:07 PM   #10
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Welcome knackelflerg! I saw him twice too. I hope you enjoy the show.
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Old 03-24-2008, 02:01 PM   #11
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Welcome to Corfid knackelflerg hoping to get to hear your Lightfoot stories.
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Old 03-24-2008, 02:11 PM   #12
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Howdy knackelflerg and welcome to Corfid. We are a group of nice people who like to have fun as you already know. So excited for you to see Gordon and the Lightfoot Orchestra after all these years. For me, they are like a breath of fresh air. Have fun and enjoy, enjoy and then enjoy some more.

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Old 03-24-2008, 03:18 PM   #13
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You are long over do for a wonderful show, enjoy!
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Old 03-25-2008, 07:04 PM   #14
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Thanks everyone for the welcome. I will make a full report of the event next week. I am getting excited about it!!


If anyone was wondering of the meaning of "knackelflerg" it is a Neil Diamond song,since I am a huge Neil Diamond fan.

Peace
Tom
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