Sun still hasn't set for folk legend Gordon Lightfoot

Dori O'Neal, Herald staff writer October 29, 2010 

Gordon Lightfoot has a special fondness for performing in front of a live audience.

"There's a wonderful responsibility that comes with live performance that you can't capture in a recording studio," Lightfoot said in a recent interview with the Herald.

Concerts also keep him grounded with his audience, he added.

For this 71-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter, concert tours are something he's done for more than 45 years, and he has no plans to retire.

His latest tour makes a stop Nov. 4 at Toyota Center in Kennewick.

Though most musicians will tell you it's difficult to tag one song as a favorite, Lightfoot admits he definitely has a strong connection to his 1976 No. 1 hit single Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

The song is about the true story of an ore vessel that sank in Lake Superior in 1975.

"I stay in touch with some of the people who lost relatives on that ship," Lightfoot said. "It was a tragic event (that inspired the song) but the families seemed to be honored that I wrote it."

Lightfoot, one of the most successful Canadian singer/songwriters, fell in love with music and songwriting as a young teen growing up in Orillia, Ontario. He credits his songwriting influences to other songwriters from the 1960s, such as Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton and Phil Ochs.

Lightfoot worked various days jobs then spent his nights singing his own songs in smoky coffeehouses across Canada. He eventually emigrated to Los Angeles in 1958 to study orchestration for short time, then moved back to Toronto where he arranged and produced commercial jingles until 1960.

He released his first solo album in 1966 and for the next several years released hit after hit. Some of those include: Sundown, Early Morning Rain, Remember Me I'm the One, Read My Mind and Rainy Day People.

Many of Lightfoot's songs have been recorded by other famous musicians including Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Barbra Streisand, Sarah McLachlan, Peter Paul and Mary and John Mellencamp.

And when he isn't at home giving his five children and four grandchildren his undivided attention, he spends time in the great outdoors canoeing.

"I probably spend as much time in the outdoors as I do indoors," Lightfoot said. "And I love spending time with my kids and grandkids."

His Tri-City show will be a mix of old and new songs, he said.

"I try to make each concert different in some way," Lightfoot said. "It'll be a two-hour show with 26 songs and a 20-minute intermission."

The audience will need the intermission to rest up for the rest of the entertainment, he quipped.

"I really love doing this show," he said. "Keeps me alert and alive."

Tickets to the show are from $37 to $57 plus service charges and available at or at the Toyota Center box office. Tickets purchased at the box office avoid service charges.

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514;

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