Lightfoot Odds & Ends

"Lightfoot's masterpiece, 'Canadian Railroad Trilogy', was written from the inside-out. He wrote the slow middle first 'We are the naavies..' and then wrote the start and end portions around it."

"Affair On Eighth Avenue was inspired by a young German waitress who worked at the Playboy Club in New York City".

"In the 60's, Lightfoot hung out with some high-riggers working on Toronto's skyscrapers being constructed, to get to know them to write a song about their work. The result was 'Talkin' High Steel', which sadly was never released by Lightfoot."

"Lightfoot has acknowledged Bob Dylan as being one of his primary influences and Dylan, besides being a friend of Lightfoot's, is also a true admirer. In 1985 Dylan wrote in the liner notes to his Biograph box set, 'Gordon Lightfoot, every time I hear a song of his, it's like I wish it would last forever.' High praise, indeed!"

"In 1971, Lightfoot refused to perform If You Could Read My Mind at that year's Grammy Awards, when the show's producers insisted he cut the song to 2 minutes from it's original 3 1/2 minutes."

"Lightfoot, with Red Shea and John Stockfish, recorded Back Here On Earth at Owen Bradley's 'Barn' near Nashville in a mere 4 days in September 1968."

"When Lightfoot played two shows on Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue in1975 in Toronto, Dylan dedicated 'Dark As A Dungeon', an old folk standard Lightfoot used to perform, to Lightfoot at the first night's concert."

"After the first night's Rolling Thunder Revue concert in Toronto in 1975, Lightfoot invited the entire revue back to his house for a post-concert party. Dylan, who was making a film at the time, recorded Lightfoot singing 'Ballad In Plain D' in an upstairs bedroom."

"Hollywood rumours have Lightfoot tabbed for the lead role in the 1976 remake of A Star Is Born, co-starring with Cher. The roles eventually were played by Kris Kristofferson and Barbra Streisand."

"During the recording of 'Dream Street Rose' in Los Angeles, Lightfoot was held up and robbed at gunpoint at his hotel, which he said, cast a pall over the sessions for the album."

"Lightfoot did not perform a single concert in 1986, the only year since he's been in the business that he has not performed live. (He did do a short set at Ian & Sylvia's reunion concert, his lip-syncing of 'Stay Loose' at his Hall Of Fame induction doesn't count.) He was totally involved in completing and promoting 'East Of Midnight' that entire year. The next year he was very busy on the road however, touring from early February to late November with only brief breaks along the way."

"Lightfoot went over the 4,000 mile mark in his years of canoeing rivers in northern Canada, when he completed a 500 mile trip down the Kazan River in the Northwest Territories in July of 1982."

"Lightfoot wrote 'The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald' over three days in November 1975, finishing it around noon of the third day. He went straight to the studio that afternoon and recorded it on the first take!"

"Lightfoot first grew his beard while on a canoe trip in northern Canada in 1971. It wasn't grown after he was stricken with Bell's Palsy in 1972 as had been rumoured, he already had it on for more than six months before the illness."

"Lightfoot stated in 1982, when discussing 'Triangle' that he would like to issue an album made up entirely of all of his seasongs. To date, unfortunately it hasn't materialized."

"Lightfoot aborted a live album recorded over five days at Massey Hall in Toronto in March of 1974, when he broke a fingernail on his picking hand and could subsequently hear it on the tapes of the concerts."

"Lightfoot appeared on the forerunner of PBS Soundstage, 'Made In Chicago' in the fall of 1973 with a brilliant 15 song set featuring his three piece band lineup of that time - Lightfoot rhythm guitars, Rick Haynes on bass and relative newcomer Terry Clements on lead guitar."

"In 1978 Lightfoot offered Doug Riley the keyboard position in the Lightfoot band, but Riley who played on Endless Wire, declined the invitation because of his status as a much-in-demand session player in those days."

"Mike Heffernan was called in to the 'My Love For You' sessions for the Harry Tracy soundtrack in the fall of 1980. Lightfoot auditioned Heffernan during the session and by Christmas Lightfoot offered him the keyboard job."

"In 1975, the Lightfoot band had it's most unique configuration. Pee Wee Charles was added on steel guitar and Red Shea returned to the live band, giving Lightfoot two lead guitarists with Terry and Red. Rick Haynes was on bass, but still no drummer. Barry Keane would be added in January of 1976. To get a good idea of how the '75 band sounded, listen to the re-recorded tracks on Gord's Gold, as they provided the basic tracks for all of those songs."

"Lightfoot cut his first record when he was still in Grade 4. His sister Bev played piano and they got it on the first take. The school principal played the record over the school PA on parent's day."

"At aged 12, Lightfoot records a 78 rpm of 'The Lord's Prayer'."

"Lightfoot offered the drumming gig in the Lightfoot band to Jim Gordon in 1975. Jim Gordon was the famed session drummer who worked on the 'Sundown' and 'Cold On The Shoulder' albums. He declined the invitation because of his busy studio schedule. It turned out for the best because within several years Jim Gordon was suffering from mental illness and was institutionalized. Also, Lightfoot eventually landed one of the finest and most versatile drummers around - the incomparable Barry Keane."

"The inspiration for 'Old Dan's Records' came from an overheard comment in a restaurant. Lightfoot heard someone talking about 'old dance records' and the connection was made. When he returned home (he was living in his high rise apartment during this period, with a separate unit set aside for writing) he sat down and got it done. One of his most enduring songs and a favorite of Lightfoot's one would assume, judging by the number of times he's played it live - almost exclusively as his encore."

"Perhaps surprisingly, Lightfoot took up guitar rather late in his musical development. He started out on piano as a child, moved on to drums as a teenager, then picked up on the tenor guitar (the 4-string variety) before finally getting on to the 6 and 12-string models he's become so closely associated with."

"In a departure from his usual secluded method of songwriting, Lightfoot wrote 'Sometimes I Don't Mind' almost entirely in the studio during the 'Endless Wire' sessions."

"Lightfoot rented a rehearsal space in Toronto in 1974 to try and get some writing done for the next album (Cold On The Shoulder), but a rock band was occupying a rehearsal space in the same building and Lightfoot wound up notbeing able to get enough quiet time to concentrate on writing. However, one rainy Sunday he went down there to find the place was quiet for a change - the result, 'Rainy Day People'."

"Lightfoot hosted a summer replacement country and western TV show for the BBC in London, England in the summer of 1963. A total of 8 shows."

"In Los Angeles in 1993, Lightfoot was out to dinner and during the meal was discussing which song from 'Waiting For You' should be released as a single. He was leaning toward 'I'll Prove My Love' and as he mentioned this he opened his fortune cookie, which read, 'You'll be singled out for success!' Needless to say 'I'll Prove My Love' got selected as the first single!"

"Lightfoot recorded the epic love song 'The Last Time I Saw Her' on the first take! Considering the intricate arrangement and soaring vocal, that is truly remarkable. Of course, the strings were overdubbed later."

"Lightfoot originally intended to title 'Only Love Would Know' differently. It was to be called 'Light Of Passion' but he said there was a song by that name making the rounds back then, so to avoid confusion he changed it."

"The heart-wrenchingly beautiful ballad 'If Children Had Wings' was inspired by Lightfoot's ex-wife leaving for France with their two kids to attend school there. One of Lightfoot's (or anyone's) most chilling accounts of life after divorce."

"When Lightfoot played drums in a jazz revue called 'Up Tempo' in 1961, he played under the pseudonym, Charles Sullivan."

"Lightfoot based the format of the 'Canadian Railroad Trilogy', that is a slow part in the middle with fast parts on each end, on Bob Gibson's song 'Civil War Trilogy'. He came up with word 'naavie' from a book on the railroad's chief engineer, Van Horne, which he borrowed from the CBC library to research the song."

"While on an 18 hour train trip from Toronto to Moosenee on the shore of James Bay in northern Ontario, Lightfoot was inspired to write 'Steel Rail Blues' in 1965."

"Lightfoot stated that in the original newspaper article he saw afer the Edmund Fitzgerald sank, the name 'Edmund' was spelled incorrectly as 'Edmond'. He thought at the time that those men deserved a fitting and accurate tribute and if not for that misspelling he may not have felt compelled to write the song."

"On a writing trip to England in 1968, Lightfoot was inspired to write 'Bitter Green' as he looked out at the English countryside as his plane approached the London airport. He started it in the taxi from the airport and finished it at his hotel."

"When Lightfoot appeared on Saturday Night Live in May of 1976, after doing his second song, 'Spanish Moss', Lightfoot became part of a skit. He asked the audience if they would like to hear another song and they responded enthusiastically, but the host Buck Henry said there was no more time, but Lightfoot and the band launch into 'Sundown' anyway, so Buck Henry motions to John Belushi off camera, who is in full samurai garb, who then rushes towards Lightfoot and cuts every string on his guitar with a big pair of wire cutters! Song over..."

"Lightfoot concieved of the title for 'The List' from watching a horse race on TV and seeing the horses names listed on the screen. Certainly a modest conception to a song that turned out to be a very gritty depiction of life and love on the road. I've always considered this to be a companion piece to 'Somewhere USA'."

"Lightfoot's 'Go My Way' dates back to 1966. It was first performed on television by Canadian singer Catherine MacKinnon in January 1967, but Lightfoot chose not to record it until 1971."

"Lightfoot played 'Restless' in concert for the first time at opening night at Massey Hall in November of 1991. At that time he had seven songs written for what would eventually become the 'Waiting For You' album. Other new songs previewed for the Toronto crowd that night were 'Wild Strawberries' and 'Only Love Would Know', but these two tunes had been played numerous times previously throughout the 1991 tour."

"In 1975 when Lightfoot was playing piano in concert for the songs 'Bells Of The Evening' and 'Fine As Fine Could Be', he was sometimes introing those songs by playing an extended 'cocktail lounge' style piano piece (which highlighted some very nice piano playing on Lightfoot's part by the way!) which he ended by saying, in a very exaggerated Liberace imitation, 'Thank you very much'! The crowd hooted it up over that bit, to say the least!"

"When Lightfoot was playing the Kiel Hall in St. Louis, MO on February 23, 1978, there was a 'sound-proof' curtain set up to divide the hall into two separate venues. Lightfoot was playing one side and Al Green was booked into the other. Well, apparently the curtain wasn't fully sound proof, because a groove that Green was playing on his side of the curtain was overheard by Lightfoot and it gave him the idea for a rhythm and he later worked out a melody and chord progression to go along with it that eventually became 'Baby Step Back'."

"I found it interesting that Lightfoot has stated that 'Mountains And Maryann' was written from the perspective of travelling on motorcycle. Makes perfect sense when you listen to it with that in mind. Lightfoot considered that song one of his best from the 60's, but has rarely performed it since that decade."

"Lightfoot wrote most of the material for the 'Back Here On Earth' album during a writing trip to England in 1968. However, one song from that album which did not come from that trip was 'Affair On Eighth Avenue', which was written after the England trip, in Denver in August of '68."

"A story Lightfoot used to tell when introducing 'Pussywillows Cat-tails' was about it being written for his grandmother. Then he would joke about how she came to have so many children. Turns out she was hard of hearing and every night at bedtime her husband would ask, 'Do you want to go to sleep or what'?  She of course always replied - 'What'!"

"Lightfoot's first wife, Brita, would often scour newspapers and magazines in search of ideas for song titles. Some titles she suggested which made it into song; Early Morning Rain and Home From The Forest."

"When Lightfoot completed the 'East Of Midnight' album, talk was rampant that it could well be his last album. In fact, Lightfoot stopped writing for several years in the late 80's. Eventually he felt compelled to begin writing again. He mentioned this to a friend and told him he needed an inspiration to get his writing process flowing again. The friend suggested writing a song about Canada and what it means to be Canadian. Lightfoot took the advice and went off and wrote 'Restless'."

"Lightfoot's early 60's duo, the Two Tones, were not considered appropriate for the Mariposa Folk Festival at the time because they were deemed too 'commercial'. Mariposa went on to court Lightfoot to appear there many times in the future and as poetic justice would have it, Lightfoot no longer continued to perform there beyond the late 60's because he did not want to over-saturate the Toronto area with appearances and also since he was then a concert headliner, he only infrequently appeared at folk festivals after that time."

"Lightfoot had a concert taped in Frankfurt, Germany on October 28, 1975, a portion of which was broadcast in stereo on German radio."

"{In the winter of 1989}, singer and songwriter Gordon Lightfoot is getting ready to join scientist David Suzuki on a philanthropic journey to the Amazon. Business manager Barry Harvey says Lightfoot strongly opposes Brazil's destruction of the Amazon and the Indians by its reckless removal of the rainforest and that he is going down to lend his support to the indigenous peoples."