Letters

Letters 07-27-2015

Next For Brownfields In regard to your recent piece on brownfield redevelopment in TC, the Randolph Street project appears to be proceeding without receiving its requested $600k in brownfield funding from the county. In response to this, the mayor is quoted as saying that the developer bought the property prior to performing an environmental assessment and had little choice but to now build it...

Defending Our Freedom This is in response to Sally MacFarlane Neal’s recent letter, “War Machines for Family Entertainment.” Wake Up! Make no mistake about it, we are at war! Even though the idiot we have for a president won’t accept the fact because he believes we can negotiate with Iran, etc., ISIS and their like make it very clear they intend to destroy the free world as we know it. If you take notice of the way are constantly destroying their own people, is that living...

What Is Far Left? Columnist Steve Tuttle, who so many lambaste as a liberal, considers Sen. Sanders a far out liberal “nearly invisible from the middle.” Has the middle really shifted that far right? Sanders has opposed endless war and the Patriot Act. Does Mr. Tuttle believe most of our citizens praise our wars and the positive results we have achieved from them? Is supporting endless war or giving up our civil liberties middle of the road...

Parking Corrected Stephen Tuttle commented on parking in the July 13 Northern Express. As Director of the Traverse City Downtown Development Authority, I feel compelled to address a couple key issues. But first, I acknowledge that  there is some consternation about parking downtown. As more people come downtown served by less parking, the pressure on what parking we have increases. Downtown serves a county with a population of 90,000 and plays host to over three million visitors annually...

Home · Articles · News · Music · Gordon Lightfoot is Alive and...
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Gordon Lightfoot is Alive and Well, Thank You Very Much

News of his untimely death has not diminished Gordon Lightfoot’s musical mojo.

Ross Boissoneau - June 16th, 2014  

Revered as one of Canada’s greatest songwriters, Gordon Lightfoot says performing onstage is still his greatest joy as an artist.

“I’ve always been a performer at heart,” the 75-year-old guitarist said. “I started out as a performer.”

In 2010, however, word spread that Lightfoot had died, a rumor he denies to this day.

“I had two health issues, and then they thought I was dead,” Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot was listening to radio while driving home from a dental appointment, and was surprised to hear about his death. It stemmed from a report on Twitter. He famously called the radio station he heard it on to allay the rumors.

He’s still going strong in spite of what they said, and is coming to Interlochen on June 18 to prove it.

Influenced by composer Stephen Foster and such artists as Pete Seeger and the Weavers, Lightfoot studied jazz composition and orchestration in his youth.

It was his songs that first gained him notice. Canadian folk-rock duo Ian and Sylvia added his material to their repertoire in the mid-60s. The folk trio Peter, Paul & Mary enjoyed hits with his tunes “Early Morning Rain” and “For Lovin’ Me,” while Marty Robbins topped the country charts with Lightfoot’s “Ribbon of Darkness.”

His debut recording, “Lightfoot!,” was released in 1966, and featured his own versions of “Early Mornin’ Rain,” “The Way I Feel,” and “Ribbon of Darkness,” as well as other originals and songs by Phil Ochs (“Changes”) and Ewan McColl (“The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”).

In the decades since, he’s recorded more than 20 albums and performed countless concerts across his native country, the U.S., and abroad.

Lightfoot has a special connection to this area. He’s performed previously at Interlochen, and also supports a scholarship at Northwestern Michigan College for its maritime program.

“I have a commitment there to the maritime academy,” he said. “I’ve had a scholarship there since 1977.”

He says Interlochen’s ambience keeps him coming back to the area.

“Interlochen has a wonderful amphitheater,” he said. “You can tune your guitar while you look across the lake.”

In the past 12 years, Lightfoot has not had it easy with regard to his health. In 2002 he suffered an abdominal aortic aneurysm, which led to a six-week coma, a tracheotomy and several operations.

After recovering from that, he suffered a stroke while performing. It paralyzed two fingers of his right hand. Through physical therapy and continued exercise, he’s regained most of the use of the fingers and still plays guitar in performance.

“I had to find a new neural pathway. I never practiced as much as I did then [to recover],” he said. “Eventually I got back to 96 or 97 percent.”

Lightfoot says his shows draw from all facets of his career, and the diversity of the material keeps the concerts interesting for both performer and audience.

“It’s all different keys, different tempos,” he said. “Everything I’ve written is so different.”

Lightfoot says that diversity is a gift, something he isn’t conscious of doing when writing.

“There are only three or four songs that replicate one another,” he said.

While most every show features hits like “If You Could Read My Mind,” “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” and “Sundown,” Lightfoot says he never tires of performing such familiar favorites. “I always do the songs a little bit differently,” he said. “There’s no such thing as getting tired of them.”

Nor, apparently, is there such a thing as retirement. The Interlochen show is the initial performance on a 10-date Midwest tour which concludes the end of the month. In July, he goes out again, this time out East, then finishes up the summer with a 14-show trip out West. In the fall, he’ll travel across his native country from mid-October through the end of November.

Lightfoot never anticipated the longevity of his songs or his career.

“‘Sundown’ is still getting airplay,” he said. “When I was 35, I thought what the heck am I going to be doing.”

Now, 40 years later, he knows. “I want to work while the sun shines,” he said.

Gordon Lightfoot takes the stage Wed., June 18 at 8pm in Kresge Auditorium. For tickets or more information, visit Interlochen.org.

 
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