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Old 09-22-2020, 05:31 PM   #96
Join Date: May 2000
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Default Re: HOT DOCS-Lightfoot doc.-interviews/photos/articles-Apr-2019-AND TV viewing info

part 2
Dylan is also famously a fan of Gordon’s, so were you surprised that such diverse musicians from Anne Murray to Rush would sing Gordon’s praises?

Tosoni: No, it wasn’t a surprise. We were aware. And in fact, one of our disappointments making the film was that we were shooting mostly in the summer. Once we got the go-ahead in May, we had to start getting interviews, and there were several people who were willing, Joan Baez being a major one. We would’ve loved to have had Joan Baez in the film, but she just was on a huge tour, and we just couldn’t get a date where she was available to do an interview. And so, we do know that he has a lot of other performers, with diverse backgrounds, that admire him.

Kehoe: And also, I do feel for that generation of musicians, like the guys from Rush. As they say in the film, he was the first Canadian that got an international following and stayed in Canada. There’d been a few people before who had gone to the States and just disappeared into the United States entertainment world. Gord was the first one that stayed at home. So everybody like Rush and Anne Murray, they used him as an example like, “Hey, this guy has hits on the radio. He makes a lot of money touring, but he still lives in Toronto. You don’t have to go to the States to be successful as a musician.” So that’s another area where he really was kind of a role model for a lot of subsequent Canadian artists.

How did Alec Baldwin, who’s neither Canadian nor a musician, get involved?

Kehoe: We were looking for people that spoke to different aspects. And Alec had Gord on his podcast, and you could just tell from the podcast that he was a real fan. We reached out to a number of people, and Alec played a nice role for us. First of all, he’s a big star, so that’s helpful for your film, but he also is a very articulate music fan and knows a little about the industry. So he was able to speak about Gord as a fan, as someone who wasn’t Canadian, who didn’t have that historical pull. He didn’t grow up listening to his music. He was a fan because the songs that were coming on the radio, and we thought he did a rather nice job of articulating those points.
We decided early on we didn’t want to have a really didactic documentary, where we would have a narrator and it would be sort of all that. We wanted it to be very much a conversation, maintain an intimacy. Alec was able to put together a few different things we thought were important that we wanted to show the depth and the breadth of Gord’s fans.

Tosoni: And interestingly too, he said yes immediately. We contacted his people, and we got a positive response right away. It was a really great experience doing that interview with himGordon Lightfoot just released his first new album in 15 years. Did the documentary push him into this or did you happen to catch it at the right time?

Tosoni: In the early 2000s, he had an aneurysm that nearly killed him, and he had just before that written songs. He claims that he forgot about them, and he discovered them in his archives. In his home, he discovered this treasure trove of songs that he’d forgotten about. So he thought, “I’m going to put them out, because they never got put out.” And then he was going to add orchestration to them and a band and everything like that. And he decided it was better just solo, so he brought out this new solo album of songs that he wrote 20-ish years ago.

You both had experience in live television, how is that similar to filming the concert experience?

Kehoe: We did very minimal filming. Joan had already directed a live concert in Massey with him around 2011. We had that, and we felt like that [2018] concert at Massey Hall was kind of special, because Gord played multiple dates in Massey Hall, every year for many years. So fans go to see him and there’s a very unique kind of mood that’s quite noticeable. It’s a give-and-take between the audience and Gord. People go there with their children, so the kids have the experience. It’s just a very special thing to be a part of. And Massey Hall is very closely associated with Gord. It was closing for renovations, and they had asked Gord to finish it out.
It’s sort of his second home, and we wanted to cover the experience of him being backstage and the vibe around him being at Massey Hall, so that’s how that was decided. But we didn’t do it with multi-camera and stuff like that, like we would do if we were doing a TV show. We were shooting single camera just to get a few important moments.

Tosoni: Yes, but many of the clips that you see in the film I directed or they were from programs that we had done in the past.

Did anything come out during the filming? Any of the topics surprise you? I was surprised by the Cathy Smith story, the John Belushi connection.

Kehoe: Well, we knew about that, because that was rather famous, and a rather infamous scandal. Again, when anything like that happens from somebody from Toronto, everyone knows about it. So we knew about that, and we’d been interested a long time in his relationship with Cathy Evelyn Smith. And so, we kind of knew that, and we knew it was something people might have forgotten. You wanted to have some exciting “Wow” moments in the film, so that certainly provided one. We found that little clip of her being interviewed, and that was quite an interesting clip, we thought.

I even saw a picture of him with Willie Nelson. Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan made a lot of duets. Why do you think Gordon wasn’t a celebrity collaborator?

Kehoe: I think Gord is just really a private type of guy, and he is quite a perfectionist, and then I think it makes him a little bit nervous performing with other people of a certain magnitude. I think that he likes to control his own sound a lot, and I think he would play with anybody informally and off-camera, anyone, because we know he does, and he has. But on-camera, he likes to be really in control of his own sound and his own performance. I don’t know, that’s just a guess.

Tosoni: Yeah, I agree, and not only on-camera, but in the studio. I think that it was indicated in the film, he was very controlling in the studio. He had control. He’s in charge. And as soon as you’re collaborating with somebody, you lose that control, and maybe he wasn’t comfortable with that.

Kehoe: That’s full-on speculation.

Lightfoot worked with the same musicians for years. You said he was sort of controlling, but do they function as a band? Do they input into arrangements, or were they just backing musicians?

Kehoe: I think they do have input into arrangements. I think it’s a little bit of a combination. A lot of artists use studio musicians and then put a band together to tour. Whereas Gord played with those guys for many years. He’s been with Rick for 50 years, and I feel like there is just a very known quantity. But when they talked about “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” they would’ve had some idea of what they were doing. But they all played along, and they used the first take as the song.

Tosoni: Gord also does arrangements, but I think he is open to input from his band, and particularly those he’s been with the longest. For example, he had Pee Wee Charles in his band for a few years, and I think Pee Wee had a certain freedom in the arrangements because of the instrument and because it was something new. I don’t know if that’s really true, but I think he’s collaborative. But again, Gord has a lot of control and hears everything in his mind, and he’s also a music writer, because he can write the score.

What does “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” mean to the people around Lake Superior? It only happened a year before he wrote it. Is it still legend?

Tosoni: He plays it at every concert. It’s certainly a favorite. And also, he came to know the families of the men who were lost in that shipwreck. He carried very much about them and even changed a lyric, one lyric about what caused the sinking was somebody left the hatch open. They found that wasn’t true, and he changed the lyrics so that wasn’t indicated, because he came to know those people. They would come to the concerts.

Kehoe: And he would go to memorials there too, so he’s been very much in touch with all the survivors of the Edmund Fitzgerald, and it’s very much on his mind now. It was one of the only things he spoke to us about, caring how things were represented in the film. He gave us total carte blanche in the film, but he wanted to make sure that the Edmund Fitzgerald details were as he knew them to be.

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