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Old 03-24-2011, 08:13 AM   #1
charlene
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Default Durham NC article

http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/03/...stone-and-a-BY JIM JENKINS - Staff Writer
I was trying to explain to my godson, Daniel, 22, the significance of a 72-year-old folksinger of whom he and most of those in his and the preceding generation had never heard. We were en route to Meymandi Hall in downtown Raleigh, and though Dan's an agreeable and musically open-minded fellow, I figured I'd better get the explanation in while I could.

The first time I saw this fellow, I told him, I was 15 years old and had just moved to Winston-Salem with my parents. I had no friends and no particular hobbies to take my mind off loneliness, and then a friend from Raleigh came to town with two tickets to hear a folksinger. The music spoke to me. I spread the word and I made friends.

In college, other friends united by the music would gather in a dorm lounge and listen to him, lights dimmed. A few days before the concert to which Dan and I were headed, a college mate e-mailed that he would see us at the show: "I still remember sitting there in the hallway sometimes with the speakers pulled out so we could hear the music. It's one of the fondest memories I have of Carolina. And it's something my wife and I first liked together."

Yes, there it is then. Some touchstones, benchmarks of life, whatever you want to call them, are in the familiar smells of a favorite restaurant or the street signs of a hometown or the heroes of politics such as JFK, and the best ones keep going and stay with us for a good bit of the journey.

At the intermission Saturday, a fan of long-standing who is about the same age as the folksinger said this, later acknowledging he was almost moved to tears at the show's beginning: "I would have come, if all he could do was whisper."

Gordon Lightfoot has been on my journey for 43 years, since that first show in Winston-Salem. There have been many albums since, perhaps 14 or 15 concerts, a group dinner backstage once and one show my late parents attended to show me they wanted to connect with their college-age son.

A year ago, there was a memorial visit of sorts, when a group of friends gathered to go to a Lightfoot show to honor one who had recently died young of cancer. His most prized possession was a 20-year-old backstage picture of himself and Lightfoot.

On Saturday last, most of the heads were gray and bald, except for the youngsters who were on the receiving end of memory stories: "Now I saw him first in 1968 ... " or "He came to Chapel Hill when I was there ... must have been the early '70s" or "I met your mother at a show in Greensboro around 1980." He chronicled, this singer, his own ups and downs and ours; he was a generation's biographer.

It's a curious thing, in a way, that so many people (Meymandi was full, as have been the other halls on this current tour) would be so intensely keen on someone who has had a 50-year, respectable career but never flirted with superstardom. And yet intensity is the word for it. The cheers were many, the ovations were standing and the calls for specific songs ("Bitter Green," "Canadian Railroad Trilogy") showed the room was full of people whose admiration went back a ways.

Yes, he's older and reed-thin and his voice has lost some power. But the music that spoke to them in youth still does. Except this night, they didn't retire to their dorm rooms and put on their albums and pull all-nighters. They went home and called up some songs on their computers and took their evening meds and got ready for a visit from the grandchildren on Sunday.

But the folksinger, who's survived a life-threatening aneurysm, a mild stroke and years of the strain of the road, caused them to take a turn through the pages of their minds, pages in a book for which he was a periodic mark.

We got back to my house, and Daniel pulled out the old Martin guitar and immediately picked up on some of the melodies. "All the songs were great," he said. "A couple of them were beautiful. I mean, they were just amazing."

How nice that Lightfoot appears to have young folks ready to sign him on as a traveling companion. May he and all those rallied 'round in Meymandi Hall continue the journey together for a while to come. See you next year, Gord.

Deputy editorial page editor Jim Jenkins can be reached at 919-829-4513 or at jjenkins@newsobserver.com

Read more: http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/03/...#ixzz1HWCQ4Q7F
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Old 03-24-2011, 09:36 AM   #2
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Default Re: Durham NC article

That was lovely. Jim has spoken of Gordon Lightfoot in his editorials often through the years, always with the same near-reverence as in this story.

As long as Mr. Lightfoot will honor us with his presence, I shall attend as often as I possibly can. I still see and hear with the eyes and ears of memory. I'm at the age where the losses are mounting all around me so I hold what matters: this music, this band, ever more dear. The lesson that this band is teaching us this tour is important: the necessity of adapting to difficult change and loss with grace, humor, and hard work.
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Old 03-24-2011, 09:52 AM   #3
Wes Steele
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Wow.... I don't know... that might have been the best piece I have ever read....

For whatever reason... this one "hit" me....
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Old 03-24-2011, 10:52 AM   #4
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I agree Wes, this one got me too.
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Old 03-24-2011, 01:53 PM   #5
Melissa
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Default Re: Durham NC article

Couldn't agree more. This guy echoes what we all say to each other in this group. He deserves Honorary Lighthead status.
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Old 03-24-2011, 03:31 PM   #6
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That was a really beautiful article.
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Old 03-24-2011, 04:15 PM   #7
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He gets it...we're all feeling things differently this time around...there's a sadness but yet we are looking forward to what will happen on tour this year.
I know that I am always happy that my daughter comes to the concerts and sees what Lightfoot means to not only me, but to so many of us. It's almost 10 years since Massey/May 2001..she was 13. Younger than I was when I discovered Lightfoot...amazing.
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Old 03-24-2011, 05:11 PM   #8
Lisa J
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Default Re: Durham NC article

This is a great article. Jim expressed so well what we all feel. Char, I too, am happy when one of my children shares a concert with me. Last year I took my 26 year old daughter to Massey for my first, and only, concert there. Deep in her soul, she knows all the songs; she listened to them her whole childhood. She seemed to enjoy the concert, however, that night she good heartedly teased me about my love of this man and all his music means to my life. She wasn't quite as taken with GL as I am! What she didn't get was what Ellen said... "I still see and hear with the eyes and ears of memory." When Terry passed away, it was this same daughter who then consoled me in my grief. She said she always knew how much Gordon and the guys meant to my life. She admitted that her IPOD does indeed have Gordon on it. Including the song to which she was born, "Beautiful." It is great that this music has had such staying power, it is even better when our children, or grandchildren, enjoy it and respect it as well.
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Old 03-24-2011, 05:19 PM   #9
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Listen, folks, after all these very kind comments about the piece, I had to sign up for the group, which I just did. Thank you all very much.
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Old 03-24-2011, 05:20 PM   #10
JimJ
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Many thanks for all the kind comments on my piece. Jim
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Old 03-24-2011, 05:20 PM   #11
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Sorry about the duplication. It's my first day.
Jim (again)
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Old 03-24-2011, 05:29 PM   #12
charlene
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Hey Jim - thanks for joining in and thanks for the e-mail!
I too duplicate posts, even after 10 years..
You'll find lots of terrific people here with wonderful stories,photos,videos and memories.
It's all about The Man.
Char
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Old 03-24-2011, 06:08 PM   #13
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Default Re: Durham NC article

Hey Jim,

Welcome to the group. Your article was wonderful. Like Char said, "He gets it.".

With the way you weave with words, I look forward to reading yor slants on topics that come up.

If you look around, there is a lot of great Lightfoot information and memories at this site.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the Raleigh concert.

Brian
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Old 03-24-2011, 07:08 PM   #14
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Welcome, Jim!

I too became aware of this wonderful site after writing a column that was discovered, through the wonder of the internet, by our intrepid moderator, Char. Although it took me a lot longer to jump in, I'm very glad I did.
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Old 03-24-2011, 10:01 PM   #15
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Default Re: Durham NC article

It's always fascinating to read about other people's personal connection to this man and his music.

I can't think of a single recording artist today who not only touches the soul of an audience, but actually becomes a part of who the audience is in the way that G.L. has.

When people say that they really don't have a favorite performer/artist, I kind of feel bad for them. How sad to not have experienced that rare, amazing connection to something so moving.

Fortunately for us Corfidians, we have experienced that feeling and enjoy posting about it, so you're in good company, Jim.

Welcome!
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Old 03-25-2011, 12:08 AM   #16
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Default Re: Durham NC article

Hi Jim,
You fit right in! I loved your story. I am so proud of your Godson, what a brilliant young man. We all have fabulous memories of our life with Gord, just an opening of a song will bring back a flood of memories.
I think Gord and his music make people fall in love again. If you have ever watched couples (our age) that go to the concerts are sitting side by side at the beginning of the show and by the second half they hold hands, or one is resting their hand on the others leg or she has her head on his shoulder or his arm is around her. His music has a magic to it. Anyway that is my opinion and I will stand by it to the death
Thanks for joining us Jim - welcome.
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Old 04-08-2011, 06:17 AM   #17
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Hi brink. I agree with you. He really loves music. I think that music is his passion but oh do I love north carolina cabins for sale . :D

Last edited by pablowest; 04-14-2011 at 05:39 PM.
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Old 04-10-2011, 05:29 PM   #18
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Hello Jim,

Welcome to the group.

I'm a former "ink stained wretch" myself.
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