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Gordon Lightfoot talks new album, touring, and longevity in music (Includes interview)

Bob Dylan once said: “I can’t think of any Gordon Lightfoot song I don’t like. Every time I hear a song of his, it’s like I wish it would last forever.”

On his touring in 2019, he said, “The tour was good. I took a tumble in July, so we had to reschedule those shows. I couldn’t play for about four months. I did a few shows in November.”

Lightfoot shared that he is excited to tour in 2020. “We are always in a state of preparation here, and the same goes for our band members and our crew. My wife travels with me with the entourage and the crew,” he said. “I try to keep moving these days. Motion is the potion. Keeping it moving, so I work out, and that certainly helps.”

His New Year’s resolutions for 2020 are to “keep on moving.” Each day, he is motivated by “working out.” “I have to go out to do it, and it gets me out of the streets by 10 a.m. and I go to a club. I have been a member there for years and five or six days a week, I do the workout,” he said.

Lightfoot revealed that he has a new solo studio album coming out in March of 2020. “It is just my guitar and myself, and there’s a reason for that,” he said. “If we orchestrated it, it probably would have taken another year and I didn’t want that. We are not getting any younger.”

“The new album is going to be fun. It has energy. I love the 10 songs on there,” he said, prior to listing the song “Better Off” as his favorite song from the new collection. “There are a lot of great song on there,” he admitted.

On being an artist in the digital age, he said, “I made it through that. It didn’t change my way of doing my work. I would just go to the studio and get the job done whether it was via tape or done digitally. The digital age has increased in such a fast way, that I actually lost track there. I don’t have a cell phone even. Someday soon, I am going to get with the 21st century.”

Regarding his future plans, Lightfoot said, “I will continue to work out until I am no longer able to work anymore. I love the psychology behind working out. It’s not about just the exercise, that is just half of it. The other 50 percent is showing up at the workout. It helps every aspect of what I do.”

When asked what inspired his songwriting, he responded, “The joy of doing the work, and figuring it all out and making sure that it rhymes and remembering what you learned when you went to school. I am sure glad I did that. One of the first jobs I ever got was as a copyist.”

On the title of the current chapter of his life, he said, “Solo.” “That’s how my new album is: just guitar and vocal,” he said. “When Bruce Springsteen did a lot of work on his own, all he had was a guy doing keyboards for him. He did the whole concert solo. Bruce is a very talented musician.”

From his illustrious catalog of songs, he listed “If You Could Read My Mind” as his personal favorite. He also enjoys performing “Don Quixote” towards the climax of the song, which ironically enough, is this journalist’s all-time personal favorite Gordon Lightfoot recording.

“Another great song is ‘Cotton Jenny.’ It’s a fabulous tune. I wrote that right around the same time I wrote ‘If You Could Read My Mind,’ in one afternoon. That’s the way it goes,” he added.

Unlike “Cotton Jenny” and “If You Could Read My Mind,” his signature song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” took a little “more time and a lot more thought” to compose. “When I was writing ‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,’ all I could think of the relatives: the mothers, the fathers, the uncles, the aunts and the people that were lost. I tried to be careful about writing it. As the years went by, I actually changed one of the lyrics to it because some of the people took offense to that song,” he said.

In June of 2012, Lightfoot was inducted into the coveted Songwriters Hall of Fame, where the induction ceremony was held in New York City. “That was a great show. I sang ‘If You Could Read My Mind,’ and it was an amazing evening in downtown Manhattan. I liked the vibes there. Meat Loaf also performed at that show,” he said.

Should he ever get inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an honor that he most richly deserves, he shared that he would love to sing “If You Could Ready My Mind” at that ceremony as well.

Lightfoot noted that he thoroughly enjoys performing his music live in front of audiences. “That’s the best part of this whole thing: getting out there and playing live,” he said.

For young and aspiring singer-songwriters, Lightfoot said, “Don’t stop now. Build up a small catalog with a few nice tunes. Ask yourself whether or not the song has momentum. That’s the way I think about it.”

Lightfoot defined the word success as “being able to pay the bills.” “I have a very extended family. I really do. There is a cost for everything,” he said with a sweet laugh.

To learn more about iconic singer-songwriter Gordon Light and his music, check out his official Facebook page.

Read More: Digital Journal’s Markos Papadatos reviewed Gordon Lightfoot’s May 19th, 2019 show at the Tarrytown Music Hall in New York.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 21,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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