Gordon Lightfoot, considered one of Canada’s biggest songwriters and a multi-platinum, internationally-admired artist with a profession spanning properly over 60 years, has died on the age of 84.
He died Monday night time at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto and his passing was confirmed on his official social channels and by his publicist, Victoria Lord, and B.C. Fiedler, his longtime Canadian live performance promoter.
Lightfoot was the epitome of the articulate storyteller in track, with an accompanying present for unforgettable melodies that remained rooted in acoustic folks, however crossed into the rock world with ease. Bob Dylan as soon as stated that he didn’t assume he had ever heard a Gordon Lightfoot track he didn’t like, and described him as a “mentor.”
And what songs they have been: from early efforts corresponding to “Ribbon of Darkness” and “Did She Point out My Title,” throughout a 4 studio album-stay on United Artists, to the signatures of his Warner Reprise years, corresponding to “Early Morning Rain,” “If You Might Learn My Thoughts,” “Sunset,” “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” “Daylight Katy,” “The Circle Is Small,” and so many extra.
Lightfoot’s place within the pantheon of Canadian artwork can’t be overstated, and he commanded a spot of undisputed prominence from his emergence there within the mid-Nineteen Sixties till his loss of life. Past these borders, his achievements have been big, particularly within the US, the place he registered three platinum albums (considered one of them, the Gord’s Gold compilation, going double platinum) and topped the Billboard charts with each the “Sunset” single and the album of the identical identify.
Performing was in his blood, and true to his troubadour spirit, Lightfoot continued to file and, notably, to tour exhaustively, and had tour dates booked for the spring of 2023 earlier than he was taken unwell. Exhibits in later years, together with on visits to the UK, could have revealed a diminished voice, however his songcraft remained completely intact.
He was born in Orillia, Ontario on November 17, 1938, and was performing publicly from grade 4, and in church choirs. By 12, he was on the stage of Massey Corridor in Toronto for the primary of many visits, and taught himself folks guitar, piano, and different devices, spending two years in Los Angeles from 1958 to review at Westlake Faculty of Music.
Returning residence, and displaying the affect of people staples corresponding to Pete Seeger and Ian & Sylvia, he sang as a part of the Singin’ Swingin’ Eight, on TV’s Nation Hoedown. He had his first native radio hit in 1962 with “(Keep in mind Me) I’m the One,” recorded in Nashville.
On these periods, he remembered within the liner notes for the 1999 boxed set Songbook, “I got here out of the periods sounding like a cross between Jim Reeves and Pat Boone. Deciding to not observe that route, I selected to gamble on the people revival of the early ’60s and commenced working in bars and coffeehouses.
“By 1966 I had discovered a distinct segment within the singer/songwriter class. I had additionally discovered a manufacturing firm in New York to file and signify me. I then pursued a profession in stay and recorded musical performances, which has carried me by means of, proper up till the current day.”
Lightfoot was getting himself observed on many alternative platforms, together with the UK on the BBC’s sadly long-lost Nation and Western Present. His first LP, Lightfoot!, arrived in 1966, on which his desirability as a songwriter was already on show: it contained his model of “Ribbon of Darkness,” which Marty Robbins had was a rustic No.1 the yr earlier than, and his unique “Early Morning Rain,” later coated by Elvis Presley amongst others. As this uDiscover Music sequence on his United Artist albums exhibits, he was vastly in demand not only for his personal recordings, however for his apparently limitless songbook of superior, vividly-written narratives and plaintive melodies.
Late in 1969, Lightfoot was signed by Warner Brothers to the Reprise label, opening his account with Sit Down Younger Stranger, produced by Lenny Waronker and Joe Wissert. It was markedly extra orchestrated than his earlier efforts, and included considered one of his most-loved songs, the aching “If You Might Learn My Thoughts,” a Canadian No.1, Scorching 100 Prime 5, Straightforward Listening No.1, and a success in a number of different international locations, notably the UK and Australia. The album reached No.12 within the US and stayed 37 weeks on the chart.
On 1971’s Summer time Facet Of Life, Lightfoot “went electrical,” though the LP was considerably much less sturdy on the bestsellers; he actually hit paydirt three information later with Sunset, now a favourite of each AM and FM programmers. Chilly On The Shoulder was one other US Prime 10 album, and Gord’s Gold had him revisiting a few of his UA catalog to successful impact. One other memorable second got here on 1976’s Summertime Dream, which included “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” an epic story track that hit No.1 on Money Field and No.2 on Billboard.
By the Nineteen Eighties, Lightfoot’s file success was rising extra modest, however he remained an enormous field workplace draw, and remained on Reprise all through each that decade and the following, up till 1998’s A Painter Passing By way of, as he returned to his acoustic roots. Rhino’s Songbook was a four-CD field set launched in 1999 by which his notes about how and why he created his work, and his early profession path, have been illuminating.
The 2003 album Lovely: A Tribute to Gordon Lightfoot had admirers corresponding to Ron Sexsmith, Bruce Cockburn, Jesse Winchester, and the Tragically Hip clamoring to pay their respects. The identical yr, he obtained his nation’s highest civilian honor when he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada.
Lightfoot recovered from critical sickness, emergency surgical procedure, and a six-week coma, to return to performing within the early 2000s together with his customary, pushed dedication. In a measure of his extraordinary longevity, he carried out on Parliament Hill at Canada’s a centesimal birthday in 1967, and in the identical location at its one hundred and fiftieth, in 2017, launched at the moment by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Notable amongst his late work was 2020‘s Solo, that includes newly stripped-down variations of recordings he had made practically 20 years earlier, of songs he had forgotten.
‘A number of the most lovely and lasting music of our time’
Kris Kristofferson as soon as stated: “Gordon Lightfoot has created a few of the most lovely and lasting music of our time. He’s Bob Dylan’s favourite singer/songwriter – excessive reward from the very best of us, applauded by the remainder of us.” Amongst numerous different accolades gathered from his friends, Billy Joel stated of his personal track “She’s All the time A Girl”: “I needed to put in writing a track that I assumed a man like Gordon Lightfoot would sing.” Johnny Money referred to as “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” “an especially fantastic piece of songwriting.”
Lightfoot instructed Report Mirror in 1969: “I take into consideration songs, however I don’t write about particular issues. I can’t describe intimately the best way to write one, however generally it’s greatest to get the physique in movement with the intention to get the thoughts in movement. Being in a spot – an atmosphere – has an impact on the feelings and the senses. I discover London, San Francisco, Montreal and New York have that high quality. In huge cities you get a sense of individuals residing. You write songs about folks and their experiences.”
On the different finish of a lifetime of unsurpassed achievement and unimaginable longevity, he instructed Zoomer’s Nicholas Jennings in 2020: “To cite my pal Bob Dylan, ‘work whereas the day lasts, as a result of the night time will come when you may now not work.’ I’ve merely by no means needed to retire.”