ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

HERALD ARCHIVE EXTRA: Lightfoot in Grand Forks: It's a 'charmed life' for Canadian singer (Oct. 14, 1994)

Gordon Lightfoot says he had the jitters before he recorded his first song. But his anxiety had nothing to do with singing. Lightfoot was nervous because the principal called him to the office. The fourth-grader was relieved when the principal to...

Gordon Lightfoot says he had the jitters before he recorded his first song. But his anxiety had nothing to do with singing.

Lightfoot was nervous because the principal called him to the office. The fourth-grader was relieved when the principal told him he summoned him to record a song, not to discipline him.

Accompanied by piano, Lightfoot sang an Irish lullaby, which the principal recorded on a lathe, an early style recorder.

"It was a recording for a parents' day event and piped through a public address system," Lightfoot said.

Twenty albums later, the 55-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter looks forward to recording. Each album gives him a "fresh shot," he says. "It's a charmed life."

ADVERTISEMENT

Lightfoot will be on stage Oct. 25 at 7:30 p.m. at the Chester Fritz Auditorium in Grand Forks.

He enjoys recording, but concerts are his main event, Lightfoot said.

"We always do the best we possibly can before an audience. That's what keeps us active," he said.

A ton of songs

Lightfoot never has been to Grand Forks and is looking forward to performing here.

"I'm always curious to see a new town, a new city. I often think `Is there anywhere I haven't played?' I've even played the Arctic."

If his past concerts are any indication, Lightfoot's audiences will be made up of people of all ages, he said. And they'll hear a lot of "Gord's Gold."

"We cover the whole spectrum. We've got things such as `Early Mornin' Rain,' `If You Could Read My Mind,' `The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,' `Don Quixote,' `Beautiful,' `Shadows.'

ADVERTISEMENT

"There's just a ton of them there."

"The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," perhaps one of Lightfoot's most famous songs, was inspired by media accounts of the sinking of the freighter on Lake Superior with 29 crew members aboard Nov. 10, 1975. He wrote it two weeks after reading all of the press accounts he could lay his hands on.

"Folksingers write topical songs, and sometimes shipwrecks are food for topical songs," Lightfoot said.

Album in progress

He calls his musical style "contemporary folk." "We still play in the same style as we started playing in 1960," he said.

A little more than a year after the release of his latest album, "Waiting for You," Lightfoot is more than half-finished working on a new one. Recording is challenging, he says, because "all of our keys are strange."

"We play in an unorthodox manner. We use tuning bars on our guitars."

From a songwriting point of view, Lightfoot expects his next album to be "lighter."

ADVERTISEMENT

"It's interesting; I'm starting to get a little more whimsical about things. I'm drawing from experience and thinking about things. I've got my little family and my life has changed a lot."

Lightfoot and Elizabeth, his wife of six years, have a 4-month-old baby. He also has four other children from two previous marriages and two grandchildren.

His days of taking long canoe trips to northern Canada in between concert tours and recording sessions are over, he said. With a wife and a baby, he can't pack up and take off the way he used to do. "I used to take canoe trips when I was single."

ABOUT GORDON LIGHTFOOT

Age: 55.

Musical training: taught himself to sing and to play guitar by the time he graduated from high school.

Career: Has recorded 20 albums.

Songs include: "Canadian Railroad Trilogy," "Cotton Jenny," "Sundown" and "Carefree Highway."

Favorite singers include: Leonard Koehn, Sting and Bob Dylan.

Favorite Lightfoot album: "Eat of Midnight" which he recorded in 1985. The album is well-done and very consistent, Lightfoot says.

What To Read Next
Presented by Spirit Lake Casino and Resort
The trio of Joshua Zeis, Jay Ray and Mike Nelson took home first place for "The Nemean Lion" at the competition in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
Presented by Spirit Lake Casino and Resort
Beyonce passed the late conductor Georg Solti, whose 31st Grammy came in 1998, months after his death.