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Old 09-07-2016, 10:36 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 15,630
Default CAPE COD TIMES article/interview

Gordon Lightfoot: What a tale his thoughts could tell

Gordon Lightfoot battles back from stroke, aneurysm
Singer battles back from stroke, aneurysm.

By Jim Sullivan
Contributing writer

Posted Sep. 7, 2016 at 2:33 PM

The first thing I asked Gordon Lightfoot when we connected on the phone recently was, “How are you?”
It wasn’t meant as the common, tossed-off salutation, and Lightfoot didn’t take it as such.
“I think I’m OK,” the singer-songwriter-guitarist said. “Thank you for asking. The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

One of the hoariest of rock clichés is to call an older performer – say someone still performing in their 70s – a “survivor.”

But Lightfoot? Turning 72 in November? Yeah, he fits the bill.

There was a mini-stroke seven years ago. “It’s all history now,” the Canadian-born Lightfoot says from his Toronto home, “but it really messed up my playing for six months. I just wasn’t able to play. I had a band that was very capable of handling all the background. I played the chord changes but I couldn’t use the right hand for about six months to any advantage at all.”
But it was what happened in 2002 that nearly killed him.
“Far worse,” he says. “I had an aortic aneurysm that only 5 percent of the people survive.” Lightfoot was in a coma for six weeks.

“The whole thing took about 2½ years to transpire,” he says, of the aneurysm and the recovery. “I had, all through that time, numerous operations. Repeated healing and then having to go back in for more operations. It was far worse than the arm.

“For the first six months of that time it was not a case of would I say ‘Oh the hell with it, I’m not going to do this anymore.’ I wondered if I would ever be able to do it again: ‘Will I ever be able to perform again? Will I ever be able to sing again?’”

As to his voice, Lightfoot admits he’s lost a bit. “Some of the ones with the higher notes, I have to stay away from them. But I have a volume of material where the mid-range is quite good and there’s a lot of variety.”

So, call Lightfoot still alive and well, surviving not only a real death threat but a Twitter-fed death hoax six years ago.
On Sept. 13, Lightfoot begins a 24-date tour that will take him through the end of the year, five of those dates in New England, including one at Barnstable High School Performing Arts Center in Hyannis on Sept. 18. He’ll be backed by his longtime band: bassist Rick Haynes, keyboardist Michael Heffernan, drummer Barry Keane and guitarist Carter Lancaster. (Lancaster replaced one of Lightfoot’s best friends, Terry Clements, who died in 2011.)
Lightfoot, who has released 18 major-label albums on United Artists and Warner/Reprise, says he’s written 220 songs that have been recorded. “It’s really not that impressive,” he adds. “I know people who’ve written hundreds of songs.’

His songs have been covered by the likes of Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Barbra Streisand, Jane’s Addiction and Toby Keith.
Lightfoot, who’s been crafting soft-rock and folk songs for decades, is meticulous about how he metes some of these songs out in concert. When he tours, he has three shows that he rotates. He’s got certain core songs, another 20-plus numbers that will vary, and re-jiggered song orders. He says the Cape date will begin with “Now and Then.”

“It’s all about the organization of every show,” Lightfoot says. “I spend time doing this. That way we don’t get bored. I do have a really strong backup unit, four guys, and it’s a whole show.”

What are the songs that Lightfoot can’t leave the room without playing? That is, what is that core?
“I call those ‘the standards,’ a dozen that have to be in every show,” he says. “‘The Watch Was Gone,’ ‘Beautiful,’ ‘Carefree Highway,’ ‘Did She Mention My Name,’ ‘Ribbon of Darkness,’ ‘Sundown,’ ‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,’ ‘If You Could Read My Mind,’ ‘Minstrel of the Dawn,’ ‘Shadows,’ ‘Rainy Day People,’ ‘Baby Step Back’ and ‘Early Morning Rain.’ They have to be in every show, but some of them we can lop a verse out. There’s several of them, you can actually lose verses and not lose the effect of the song, like ‘Carefree Highway’ and ‘Did She Mention My Name’; there’s not like a storyline or anything.”
And, he adds, “we do Bob Dylan’s ‘Ring Them Bells’ better than anybody. We love doing that.”

Of course, the classic shipping disaster ballad, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” is not among those that can lose a verse, being a story song. “Or ‘Sundown,’ or ‘If You Could Read My Mind,’” adds Lightfoot. “I’ve got a lot of good solid ballads.”

Lightfoot is unequivocal about what he considers his best albums: 1983’s “Salute” and 1986’s “East of Midnight.” His last studio album was 2004’s indie effort, “Harmony.”

Lightfoot had recorded 15 demo versions of those songs, which he was about to bring to his band, when the aneurysm struck. Ten of them made it onto the disc
“I knew that I had some rehearsal tapes I’d made a year before (the aneurysm) for the guys to practice with and for us to learn by, and I said ‘Look we’re gonna go in there and see if there’s anything that’s usable.’ I’d written all the charts – I wrote all my own charts throughout my career. They got the parts and the tape and there were enough completed tunes that didn’t need any correction. No mistakes on my part. I knew all the lyrics. The guitar parts and vocals were good. We overdubbed some parts and it came out pretty damn good.”

Lightfoot, who was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2012, says “the hat trick is the song, the arrangement and the vocal – three things. the three musts.”
He is still writing – “sort of. I’m always working on something that sort of got left unsung. You’re always thinking maybe I should try to write eight or nine more and make another album or should I put it out on the internet on iTunes as a single.
“Then I started thinking about all the family obligations that I’ve accumulated through all these years – and family eats up a lot of my time. I’ve got six children and six grandchildren, and four of those families live here in Toronto near me and we hang out together.”

Songwriting, he adds, “is such an isolating thing, too. You’ve got to shut yourself off. There are songs I’ve written in, like, two hours and some songs I’ve worked on for months to finally get to the point where I felt I got them right.”

But even if the songwriting is in a nebulous zone, Lightfoot still wants to be playing concerts. “Absolutely,” he says. “Of course.” Lightfoot’s got a band and crew of 14 “and everybody’s making a living.”

“Since that time (the aneurysm), I’ve never said anything negative about continuing,” he says. “No matter what, even a health issue like a mini-stroke, I was like ‘Well, we’re just gonna ride it through.’”
charlene is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-08-2016, 10:39 AM   #2
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Default Re: CAPE COD TIMES article/interview

72 in November huh...needs to get his fact straight

Cool...Gord has a new song called "The Watch Was Gone"

Sounds like the title of a Hardy Boys book
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Old 09-08-2016, 09:55 PM   #3
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Default Re: CAPE COD TIMES article/interview

Originally Posted by 3pennies View Post
72 in November huh...needs to get his fact straight

Cool...Gord has a new song called "The Watch Was Gone"
i think i've got a bootleg version of that one somewhere
joveski is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-09-2016, 10:42 AM   #4
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Default Re: CAPE COD TIMES article/interview

I'll allow them a couple of
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Old 09-09-2016, 04:08 PM   #5
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Default Re: CAPE COD TIMES article/interview

Originally Posted by joveski View Post
Cool...Gord has a new song called "The Watch Was Gone"
i think i've got a bootleg version of that one somewhere
ERR UMM Mende I think you are confusing that with Gord's famous cover of "Time In A Bottle"??
"Sir" John Fowles Bt
Honorary Curator Bootleg Museum

(where Sir does not signify that I am a fully benighted Knight just a Bt which signifies a humble Baronet -?? read the wiki!)
I meant no one no harm
Once inside we found a curious moonbeam
Doing dances on the floor

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