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Gordon Lightfoot, Canadian people musician, dies at 84

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Gordon Lightfoot, a Canadian balladeer whose songs of longing, loss and reminiscence made him one of many Nineteen Seventies’ hottest recording artists, with hits resembling “If You May Learn My Thoughts,” about his failed marriage, and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” which recounts a tragic sinking within the Nice Lakes, died Could 1 in Toronto. He was 84.

His publicist, Victoria Lord, confirmed the demise however gave no trigger. In April, Mr. Lightfoot canceled all his tour dates for this 12 months due to well being issues.

With a molasses-rich baritone and a soulful 12-string guitar, Mr. Lightfoot discovered worldwide fame together with others, resembling Neil Younger, Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell, who have been rising from Canadian coffeehouses and golf equipment within the Sixties.

Mr. Lightfoot remained near his roots as a Canadian troubadour, nevertheless, typically in search of to evoke the grandeur and thriller of the nation’s vastness. He launched into lengthy canoe expeditions into Canada’s hinterlands — “the place,” he mentioned, “the rivers run north into the Arctic Ocean” — and tried to convey the emotions of solitude in his work.

He mentioned his track “Sundown” (1974) was impressed by the colours of nightfall when he was residing in a Canadian farmhouse — and was interwoven right into a cautionary story about his onetime girlfriend, the backup singer Cathy Smith, who was convicted within the overdose demise of the comedy star John Belushi after she injected him with heroin and cocaine in 1982.

Mr. Lightfoot’s expansive “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” (1967) turned such a beloved anthem to Canada that it’s usually carried out by faculty choirs.

“If there was a Mount Rushmore in Canada, Gordon can be on it,” the Canadian musician Tom Cochrane mentioned in a 2019 documentary about Mr. Lightfoot, “If You May Learn My Thoughts.” Geddy Lee, the lead singer of the Canadian rock band Rush, known as him “our poet laureate.”

Mr. Lightfoot confronted non-public struggles, nevertheless. At the same time as he reached the peak of his success, he was sinking into alcoholism that shattered his relationships and clouded his creativity. He additionally had bouts of facial paralysis from the neurological dysfunction Bell’s palsy. “I created emotional trauma in a complete lot of individuals,” he mentioned.

He mentioned he stopped consuming in 1982 and resumed recording and touring. In 2002, shortly earlier than taking the stage in his hometown of Orillia, Ontario, Mr. Lightfoot collapsed and was close to demise throughout a six-week coma due to an aneurysm in his stomach aorta.

He spent two years recovering and returned to the stage and studio, making a complete of greater than 20 albums. Amongst these he credited with serving to him rebound, he mentioned, was his buddy Bob Dylan, who suggested him concerning the “work ethic” wanted to show an thought right into a track. It was all about, Mr. Lightfoot mentioned, “simply getting the job achieved.”

Mr. Lightfoot was a notable solo performer on Canada’s people music scene lengthy earlier than he got here to consideration on the U.S. charts in 1965 with successful model of his track “Early Morning Rain” by the folks duo Ian & Sylvia. Peter, Paul and Mary adopted up with a canopy of the track and in addition with Mr. Lightfoot’s “For Lovin’ Me.” (Mr. Lightfoot thought Elvis Presley’s 1972 cover of “Early Morning Rain” was among the many greatest.)

As well as, Marty Robbins hit the highest of the Billboard nation charts in 1965 with Mr. Lightfoot’s “Ribbon of Darkness.”

Starting in 1970 with “If You May Learn My Thoughts,” Mr. Lightfoot’s lyrical imagery and warbling, slow-roll vocals turned a staple of High 40 radio for the subsequent six years, together with “Sunset,” which reached the top of the Billboard Sizzling 100 chart, and 1974’s “Carefree Highway,” which he mentioned got here from a freeway signal for Carefree, Ariz., he glimpsed on a nighttime drive from Flagstaff to Phoenix.

A Canadian Broadcasting Corp. interviewer as soon as requested Mr. Lightfoot for the important playlist to know his music. On the prime, he mentioned, was the 1976 hit “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” maybe his most distinctive piece, which he wrote after studying an article concerning the sinking of an iron-ore vessel on Lake Superior throughout a storm in 1975. All 29 crew members perished.

The destiny of the doomed ship unfolds like an epic poem from the song’s first strains: “The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down/ Of the large lake they name Gitche Gumee.” And to his closing: “Superior, they mentioned, by no means provides up her useless/ When the gales of November come early.”

“As he’s singing it, you’re getting the sturdy sense that not solely is one ship happening, however a complete lifestyle is disappearing,” Robert Everett-Inexperienced, a former Toronto Globe and Mail music critic, told NPR. “It’s one thing sort of dusty and real and remoted, and it’s gone.” (The track peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Sizzling 100.)

If you could read Gordon Lightfoot’s mind, this is the tale his thoughts could tell

Mr. Lightfoot carried out greater than 2,500 concert events throughout his profession however may very well be reticent and uneasy when reporters requested for private insights into his work and legacy.

Mr. Lightfoot, who as soon as known as himself a “cosmopolitan hick,” had a shyness that might go away folks wanting extra. An interviewer on Canada’s “Breakfast Tv” present tried to coax his ideas on being thought-about a “Canadian icon.” He rapidly pivoted to speak about nature.

Throughout an interview for a 2019 Rolling Stone profile, Mr. Lightfoot mentioned he believed storytelling was on the coronary heart of his success.

“They’re all tunes that transfer alongside and have a ahead momentum,” he mentioned, “which is what I search for in my writing. Ahead momentum.”

Gordon Meredith Lightfoot Jr. was born in Orillia, Ontario, on Nov. 17, 1938. His father managed a dry cleansing facility, and his mom was a homemaker.

His performing debut was at 5 singing “I’m a Little Teapot” at a church Sunday faculty gathering. He joined the church choir, carried out on native radio exhibits and, at 13, received a expertise contest on the Kiwanis Music Competition held at Toronto’s Massey Corridor.

Mr. Lightfoot studied at Westlake School of Music in Los Angeles and returned to Canada, showing with a song-and-dance troupe on the CBC-TV present “Nation Hoedown,” the place he was nicknamed Gord Leadfoot due to his less-than-elegant dancing model. A fellow performer joined Mr. Lightfoot to kind a people duo, the Two Tones, and lower a dwell album in 1962, “Two Tones on the Village Nook.”

Mr. Lightfoot moved to Britain, the place he hosted a BBC nation music telecast. The surge in people music with a political edge within the Sixties, led by performers resembling Dylan and Tom Paxton, introduced Mr. Lightfoot again to the USA.

In 1965, he appeared on the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island and shortly signed with supervisor Albert Grossman, who additionally represented Dylan and Peter, Paul and Mary. He recorded his first solo album, “Lightfoot!,” in 1966. He later wrote songs concerning the 1967 Detroit riots (“Black Day in July”), whale looking and air pollution — though he mentioned he didn’t see himself as a protest singer.

“I simply wish to retain my youthful outlook in all the things — not develop outdated, congeal,” he instructed The Washington Put up in 1974. “Keep curious, questioning.”

At his dwelling in Toronto, Mr. Lightfoot had a placard saying: Anger can kill you. It was, he mentioned, a reminder of his previous abuses with alcohol that introduced on temper swings. “I wish to keep completely satisfied,” he instructed the CBC in 2019.

In March 2020, Mr. Lightfoot launched the album “Solo,” which featured Mr. Lightfoot and his guitar. The reviewer Greg Cahill on the music website the Absolute Sound praised its “emotional rawness.”

Mr. Lightfoot’s marriages to Brita Olaisson and Elizabeth Moon resulted in divorce. Survivors embody his spouse of 9 years, Kim Hasse; two youngsters from his first marriage; two youngsters from his second marriage; two sons from different relationships; and several other grandchildren.

Mr. Lightfoot described himself as a songwriter all the time in search of the “good poem.”

“It’s arduous in your thoughts, and it takes a toll in your nerves,” he instructed the CBC. “And also you obsess over it. You might be pushed to it.”

ADVERTISEMENT



Gordon Lightfoot, a Canadian balladeer whose songs of longing, loss and reminiscence made him one of many Nineteen Seventies’ hottest recording artists, with hits resembling “If You May Learn My Thoughts,” about his failed marriage, and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” which recounts a tragic sinking within the Nice Lakes, died Could 1 in Toronto. He was 84.

His publicist, Victoria Lord, confirmed the demise however gave no trigger. In April, Mr. Lightfoot canceled all his tour dates for this 12 months due to well being issues.

With a molasses-rich baritone and a soulful 12-string guitar, Mr. Lightfoot discovered worldwide fame together with others, resembling Neil Younger, Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell, who have been rising from Canadian coffeehouses and golf equipment within the Sixties.

Mr. Lightfoot remained near his roots as a Canadian troubadour, nevertheless, typically in search of to evoke the grandeur and thriller of the nation’s vastness. He launched into lengthy canoe expeditions into Canada’s hinterlands — “the place,” he mentioned, “the rivers run north into the Arctic Ocean” — and tried to convey the emotions of solitude in his work.

He mentioned his track “Sundown” (1974) was impressed by the colours of nightfall when he was residing in a Canadian farmhouse — and was interwoven right into a cautionary story about his onetime girlfriend, the backup singer Cathy Smith, who was convicted within the overdose demise of the comedy star John Belushi after she injected him with heroin and cocaine in 1982.

Mr. Lightfoot’s expansive “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” (1967) turned such a beloved anthem to Canada that it’s usually carried out by faculty choirs.

“If there was a Mount Rushmore in Canada, Gordon can be on it,” the Canadian musician Tom Cochrane mentioned in a 2019 documentary about Mr. Lightfoot, “If You May Learn My Thoughts.” Geddy Lee, the lead singer of the Canadian rock band Rush, known as him “our poet laureate.”

Mr. Lightfoot confronted non-public struggles, nevertheless. At the same time as he reached the peak of his success, he was sinking into alcoholism that shattered his relationships and clouded his creativity. He additionally had bouts of facial paralysis from the neurological dysfunction Bell’s palsy. “I created emotional trauma in a complete lot of individuals,” he mentioned.

He mentioned he stopped consuming in 1982 and resumed recording and touring. In 2002, shortly earlier than taking the stage in his hometown of Orillia, Ontario, Mr. Lightfoot collapsed and was close to demise throughout a six-week coma due to an aneurysm in his stomach aorta.

He spent two years recovering and returned to the stage and studio, making a complete of greater than 20 albums. Amongst these he credited with serving to him rebound, he mentioned, was his buddy Bob Dylan, who suggested him concerning the “work ethic” wanted to show an thought right into a track. It was all about, Mr. Lightfoot mentioned, “simply getting the job achieved.”

Mr. Lightfoot was a notable solo performer on Canada’s people music scene lengthy earlier than he got here to consideration on the U.S. charts in 1965 with successful model of his track “Early Morning Rain” by the folks duo Ian & Sylvia. Peter, Paul and Mary adopted up with a canopy of the track and in addition with Mr. Lightfoot’s “For Lovin’ Me.” (Mr. Lightfoot thought Elvis Presley’s 1972 cover of “Early Morning Rain” was among the many greatest.)

As well as, Marty Robbins hit the highest of the Billboard nation charts in 1965 with Mr. Lightfoot’s “Ribbon of Darkness.”

Starting in 1970 with “If You May Learn My Thoughts,” Mr. Lightfoot’s lyrical imagery and warbling, slow-roll vocals turned a staple of High 40 radio for the subsequent six years, together with “Sunset,” which reached the top of the Billboard Sizzling 100 chart, and 1974’s “Carefree Highway,” which he mentioned got here from a freeway signal for Carefree, Ariz., he glimpsed on a nighttime drive from Flagstaff to Phoenix.

A Canadian Broadcasting Corp. interviewer as soon as requested Mr. Lightfoot for the important playlist to know his music. On the prime, he mentioned, was the 1976 hit “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” maybe his most distinctive piece, which he wrote after studying an article concerning the sinking of an iron-ore vessel on Lake Superior throughout a storm in 1975. All 29 crew members perished.

The destiny of the doomed ship unfolds like an epic poem from the song’s first strains: “The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down/ Of the large lake they name Gitche Gumee.” And to his closing: “Superior, they mentioned, by no means provides up her useless/ When the gales of November come early.”

“As he’s singing it, you’re getting the sturdy sense that not solely is one ship happening, however a complete lifestyle is disappearing,” Robert Everett-Inexperienced, a former Toronto Globe and Mail music critic, told NPR. “It’s one thing sort of dusty and real and remoted, and it’s gone.” (The track peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Sizzling 100.)

If you could read Gordon Lightfoot’s mind, this is the tale his thoughts could tell

Mr. Lightfoot carried out greater than 2,500 concert events throughout his profession however may very well be reticent and uneasy when reporters requested for private insights into his work and legacy.

Mr. Lightfoot, who as soon as known as himself a “cosmopolitan hick,” had a shyness that might go away folks wanting extra. An interviewer on Canada’s “Breakfast Tv” present tried to coax his ideas on being thought-about a “Canadian icon.” He rapidly pivoted to speak about nature.

Throughout an interview for a 2019 Rolling Stone profile, Mr. Lightfoot mentioned he believed storytelling was on the coronary heart of his success.

“They’re all tunes that transfer alongside and have a ahead momentum,” he mentioned, “which is what I search for in my writing. Ahead momentum.”

Gordon Meredith Lightfoot Jr. was born in Orillia, Ontario, on Nov. 17, 1938. His father managed a dry cleansing facility, and his mom was a homemaker.

His performing debut was at 5 singing “I’m a Little Teapot” at a church Sunday faculty gathering. He joined the church choir, carried out on native radio exhibits and, at 13, received a expertise contest on the Kiwanis Music Competition held at Toronto’s Massey Corridor.

Mr. Lightfoot studied at Westlake School of Music in Los Angeles and returned to Canada, showing with a song-and-dance troupe on the CBC-TV present “Nation Hoedown,” the place he was nicknamed Gord Leadfoot due to his less-than-elegant dancing model. A fellow performer joined Mr. Lightfoot to kind a people duo, the Two Tones, and lower a dwell album in 1962, “Two Tones on the Village Nook.”

Mr. Lightfoot moved to Britain, the place he hosted a BBC nation music telecast. The surge in people music with a political edge within the Sixties, led by performers resembling Dylan and Tom Paxton, introduced Mr. Lightfoot again to the USA.

In 1965, he appeared on the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island and shortly signed with supervisor Albert Grossman, who additionally represented Dylan and Peter, Paul and Mary. He recorded his first solo album, “Lightfoot!,” in 1966. He later wrote songs concerning the 1967 Detroit riots (“Black Day in July”), whale looking and air pollution — though he mentioned he didn’t see himself as a protest singer.

“I simply wish to retain my youthful outlook in all the things — not develop outdated, congeal,” he instructed The Washington Put up in 1974. “Keep curious, questioning.”

At his dwelling in Toronto, Mr. Lightfoot had a placard saying: Anger can kill you. It was, he mentioned, a reminder of his previous abuses with alcohol that introduced on temper swings. “I wish to keep completely satisfied,” he instructed the CBC in 2019.

In March 2020, Mr. Lightfoot launched the album “Solo,” which featured Mr. Lightfoot and his guitar. The reviewer Greg Cahill on the music website the Absolute Sound praised its “emotional rawness.”

Mr. Lightfoot’s marriages to Brita Olaisson and Elizabeth Moon resulted in divorce. Survivors embody his spouse of 9 years, Kim Hasse; two youngsters from his first marriage; two youngsters from his second marriage; two sons from different relationships; and several other grandchildren.

Mr. Lightfoot described himself as a songwriter all the time in search of the “good poem.”

“It’s arduous in your thoughts, and it takes a toll in your nerves,” he instructed the CBC. “And also you obsess over it. You might be pushed to it.”

ADVERTISEMENT



Gordon Lightfoot, a Canadian balladeer whose songs of longing, loss and reminiscence made him one of many Nineteen Seventies’ hottest recording artists, with hits resembling “If You May Learn My Thoughts,” about his failed marriage, and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” which recounts a tragic sinking within the Nice Lakes, died Could 1 in Toronto. He was 84.

His publicist, Victoria Lord, confirmed the demise however gave no trigger. In April, Mr. Lightfoot canceled all his tour dates for this 12 months due to well being issues.

With a molasses-rich baritone and a soulful 12-string guitar, Mr. Lightfoot discovered worldwide fame together with others, resembling Neil Younger, Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell, who have been rising from Canadian coffeehouses and golf equipment within the Sixties.

Mr. Lightfoot remained near his roots as a Canadian troubadour, nevertheless, typically in search of to evoke the grandeur and thriller of the nation’s vastness. He launched into lengthy canoe expeditions into Canada’s hinterlands — “the place,” he mentioned, “the rivers run north into the Arctic Ocean” — and tried to convey the emotions of solitude in his work.

He mentioned his track “Sundown” (1974) was impressed by the colours of nightfall when he was residing in a Canadian farmhouse — and was interwoven right into a cautionary story about his onetime girlfriend, the backup singer Cathy Smith, who was convicted within the overdose demise of the comedy star John Belushi after she injected him with heroin and cocaine in 1982.

Mr. Lightfoot’s expansive “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” (1967) turned such a beloved anthem to Canada that it’s usually carried out by faculty choirs.

“If there was a Mount Rushmore in Canada, Gordon can be on it,” the Canadian musician Tom Cochrane mentioned in a 2019 documentary about Mr. Lightfoot, “If You May Learn My Thoughts.” Geddy Lee, the lead singer of the Canadian rock band Rush, known as him “our poet laureate.”

Mr. Lightfoot confronted non-public struggles, nevertheless. At the same time as he reached the peak of his success, he was sinking into alcoholism that shattered his relationships and clouded his creativity. He additionally had bouts of facial paralysis from the neurological dysfunction Bell’s palsy. “I created emotional trauma in a complete lot of individuals,” he mentioned.

He mentioned he stopped consuming in 1982 and resumed recording and touring. In 2002, shortly earlier than taking the stage in his hometown of Orillia, Ontario, Mr. Lightfoot collapsed and was close to demise throughout a six-week coma due to an aneurysm in his stomach aorta.

He spent two years recovering and returned to the stage and studio, making a complete of greater than 20 albums. Amongst these he credited with serving to him rebound, he mentioned, was his buddy Bob Dylan, who suggested him concerning the “work ethic” wanted to show an thought right into a track. It was all about, Mr. Lightfoot mentioned, “simply getting the job achieved.”

Mr. Lightfoot was a notable solo performer on Canada’s people music scene lengthy earlier than he got here to consideration on the U.S. charts in 1965 with successful model of his track “Early Morning Rain” by the folks duo Ian & Sylvia. Peter, Paul and Mary adopted up with a canopy of the track and in addition with Mr. Lightfoot’s “For Lovin’ Me.” (Mr. Lightfoot thought Elvis Presley’s 1972 cover of “Early Morning Rain” was among the many greatest.)

As well as, Marty Robbins hit the highest of the Billboard nation charts in 1965 with Mr. Lightfoot’s “Ribbon of Darkness.”

Starting in 1970 with “If You May Learn My Thoughts,” Mr. Lightfoot’s lyrical imagery and warbling, slow-roll vocals turned a staple of High 40 radio for the subsequent six years, together with “Sunset,” which reached the top of the Billboard Sizzling 100 chart, and 1974’s “Carefree Highway,” which he mentioned got here from a freeway signal for Carefree, Ariz., he glimpsed on a nighttime drive from Flagstaff to Phoenix.

A Canadian Broadcasting Corp. interviewer as soon as requested Mr. Lightfoot for the important playlist to know his music. On the prime, he mentioned, was the 1976 hit “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” maybe his most distinctive piece, which he wrote after studying an article concerning the sinking of an iron-ore vessel on Lake Superior throughout a storm in 1975. All 29 crew members perished.

The destiny of the doomed ship unfolds like an epic poem from the song’s first strains: “The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down/ Of the large lake they name Gitche Gumee.” And to his closing: “Superior, they mentioned, by no means provides up her useless/ When the gales of November come early.”

“As he’s singing it, you’re getting the sturdy sense that not solely is one ship happening, however a complete lifestyle is disappearing,” Robert Everett-Inexperienced, a former Toronto Globe and Mail music critic, told NPR. “It’s one thing sort of dusty and real and remoted, and it’s gone.” (The track peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Sizzling 100.)

If you could read Gordon Lightfoot’s mind, this is the tale his thoughts could tell

Mr. Lightfoot carried out greater than 2,500 concert events throughout his profession however may very well be reticent and uneasy when reporters requested for private insights into his work and legacy.

Mr. Lightfoot, who as soon as known as himself a “cosmopolitan hick,” had a shyness that might go away folks wanting extra. An interviewer on Canada’s “Breakfast Tv” present tried to coax his ideas on being thought-about a “Canadian icon.” He rapidly pivoted to speak about nature.

Throughout an interview for a 2019 Rolling Stone profile, Mr. Lightfoot mentioned he believed storytelling was on the coronary heart of his success.

“They’re all tunes that transfer alongside and have a ahead momentum,” he mentioned, “which is what I search for in my writing. Ahead momentum.”

Gordon Meredith Lightfoot Jr. was born in Orillia, Ontario, on Nov. 17, 1938. His father managed a dry cleansing facility, and his mom was a homemaker.

His performing debut was at 5 singing “I’m a Little Teapot” at a church Sunday faculty gathering. He joined the church choir, carried out on native radio exhibits and, at 13, received a expertise contest on the Kiwanis Music Competition held at Toronto’s Massey Corridor.

Mr. Lightfoot studied at Westlake School of Music in Los Angeles and returned to Canada, showing with a song-and-dance troupe on the CBC-TV present “Nation Hoedown,” the place he was nicknamed Gord Leadfoot due to his less-than-elegant dancing model. A fellow performer joined Mr. Lightfoot to kind a people duo, the Two Tones, and lower a dwell album in 1962, “Two Tones on the Village Nook.”

Mr. Lightfoot moved to Britain, the place he hosted a BBC nation music telecast. The surge in people music with a political edge within the Sixties, led by performers resembling Dylan and Tom Paxton, introduced Mr. Lightfoot again to the USA.

In 1965, he appeared on the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island and shortly signed with supervisor Albert Grossman, who additionally represented Dylan and Peter, Paul and Mary. He recorded his first solo album, “Lightfoot!,” in 1966. He later wrote songs concerning the 1967 Detroit riots (“Black Day in July”), whale looking and air pollution — though he mentioned he didn’t see himself as a protest singer.

“I simply wish to retain my youthful outlook in all the things — not develop outdated, congeal,” he instructed The Washington Put up in 1974. “Keep curious, questioning.”

At his dwelling in Toronto, Mr. Lightfoot had a placard saying: Anger can kill you. It was, he mentioned, a reminder of his previous abuses with alcohol that introduced on temper swings. “I wish to keep completely satisfied,” he instructed the CBC in 2019.

In March 2020, Mr. Lightfoot launched the album “Solo,” which featured Mr. Lightfoot and his guitar. The reviewer Greg Cahill on the music website the Absolute Sound praised its “emotional rawness.”

Mr. Lightfoot’s marriages to Brita Olaisson and Elizabeth Moon resulted in divorce. Survivors embody his spouse of 9 years, Kim Hasse; two youngsters from his first marriage; two youngsters from his second marriage; two sons from different relationships; and several other grandchildren.

Mr. Lightfoot described himself as a songwriter all the time in search of the “good poem.”

“It’s arduous in your thoughts, and it takes a toll in your nerves,” he instructed the CBC. “And also you obsess over it. You might be pushed to it.”

ADVERTISEMENT



Gordon Lightfoot, a Canadian balladeer whose songs of longing, loss and reminiscence made him one of many Nineteen Seventies’ hottest recording artists, with hits resembling “If You May Learn My Thoughts,” about his failed marriage, and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” which recounts a tragic sinking within the Nice Lakes, died Could 1 in Toronto. He was 84.

His publicist, Victoria Lord, confirmed the demise however gave no trigger. In April, Mr. Lightfoot canceled all his tour dates for this 12 months due to well being issues.

With a molasses-rich baritone and a soulful 12-string guitar, Mr. Lightfoot discovered worldwide fame together with others, resembling Neil Younger, Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell, who have been rising from Canadian coffeehouses and golf equipment within the Sixties.

Mr. Lightfoot remained near his roots as a Canadian troubadour, nevertheless, typically in search of to evoke the grandeur and thriller of the nation’s vastness. He launched into lengthy canoe expeditions into Canada’s hinterlands — “the place,” he mentioned, “the rivers run north into the Arctic Ocean” — and tried to convey the emotions of solitude in his work.

He mentioned his track “Sundown” (1974) was impressed by the colours of nightfall when he was residing in a Canadian farmhouse — and was interwoven right into a cautionary story about his onetime girlfriend, the backup singer Cathy Smith, who was convicted within the overdose demise of the comedy star John Belushi after she injected him with heroin and cocaine in 1982.

Mr. Lightfoot’s expansive “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” (1967) turned such a beloved anthem to Canada that it’s usually carried out by faculty choirs.

“If there was a Mount Rushmore in Canada, Gordon can be on it,” the Canadian musician Tom Cochrane mentioned in a 2019 documentary about Mr. Lightfoot, “If You May Learn My Thoughts.” Geddy Lee, the lead singer of the Canadian rock band Rush, known as him “our poet laureate.”

Mr. Lightfoot confronted non-public struggles, nevertheless. At the same time as he reached the peak of his success, he was sinking into alcoholism that shattered his relationships and clouded his creativity. He additionally had bouts of facial paralysis from the neurological dysfunction Bell’s palsy. “I created emotional trauma in a complete lot of individuals,” he mentioned.

He mentioned he stopped consuming in 1982 and resumed recording and touring. In 2002, shortly earlier than taking the stage in his hometown of Orillia, Ontario, Mr. Lightfoot collapsed and was close to demise throughout a six-week coma due to an aneurysm in his stomach aorta.

He spent two years recovering and returned to the stage and studio, making a complete of greater than 20 albums. Amongst these he credited with serving to him rebound, he mentioned, was his buddy Bob Dylan, who suggested him concerning the “work ethic” wanted to show an thought right into a track. It was all about, Mr. Lightfoot mentioned, “simply getting the job achieved.”

Mr. Lightfoot was a notable solo performer on Canada’s people music scene lengthy earlier than he got here to consideration on the U.S. charts in 1965 with successful model of his track “Early Morning Rain” by the folks duo Ian & Sylvia. Peter, Paul and Mary adopted up with a canopy of the track and in addition with Mr. Lightfoot’s “For Lovin’ Me.” (Mr. Lightfoot thought Elvis Presley’s 1972 cover of “Early Morning Rain” was among the many greatest.)

As well as, Marty Robbins hit the highest of the Billboard nation charts in 1965 with Mr. Lightfoot’s “Ribbon of Darkness.”

Starting in 1970 with “If You May Learn My Thoughts,” Mr. Lightfoot’s lyrical imagery and warbling, slow-roll vocals turned a staple of High 40 radio for the subsequent six years, together with “Sunset,” which reached the top of the Billboard Sizzling 100 chart, and 1974’s “Carefree Highway,” which he mentioned got here from a freeway signal for Carefree, Ariz., he glimpsed on a nighttime drive from Flagstaff to Phoenix.

A Canadian Broadcasting Corp. interviewer as soon as requested Mr. Lightfoot for the important playlist to know his music. On the prime, he mentioned, was the 1976 hit “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” maybe his most distinctive piece, which he wrote after studying an article concerning the sinking of an iron-ore vessel on Lake Superior throughout a storm in 1975. All 29 crew members perished.

The destiny of the doomed ship unfolds like an epic poem from the song’s first strains: “The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down/ Of the large lake they name Gitche Gumee.” And to his closing: “Superior, they mentioned, by no means provides up her useless/ When the gales of November come early.”

“As he’s singing it, you’re getting the sturdy sense that not solely is one ship happening, however a complete lifestyle is disappearing,” Robert Everett-Inexperienced, a former Toronto Globe and Mail music critic, told NPR. “It’s one thing sort of dusty and real and remoted, and it’s gone.” (The track peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Sizzling 100.)

If you could read Gordon Lightfoot’s mind, this is the tale his thoughts could tell

Mr. Lightfoot carried out greater than 2,500 concert events throughout his profession however may very well be reticent and uneasy when reporters requested for private insights into his work and legacy.

Mr. Lightfoot, who as soon as known as himself a “cosmopolitan hick,” had a shyness that might go away folks wanting extra. An interviewer on Canada’s “Breakfast Tv” present tried to coax his ideas on being thought-about a “Canadian icon.” He rapidly pivoted to speak about nature.

Throughout an interview for a 2019 Rolling Stone profile, Mr. Lightfoot mentioned he believed storytelling was on the coronary heart of his success.

“They’re all tunes that transfer alongside and have a ahead momentum,” he mentioned, “which is what I search for in my writing. Ahead momentum.”

Gordon Meredith Lightfoot Jr. was born in Orillia, Ontario, on Nov. 17, 1938. His father managed a dry cleansing facility, and his mom was a homemaker.

His performing debut was at 5 singing “I’m a Little Teapot” at a church Sunday faculty gathering. He joined the church choir, carried out on native radio exhibits and, at 13, received a expertise contest on the Kiwanis Music Competition held at Toronto’s Massey Corridor.

Mr. Lightfoot studied at Westlake School of Music in Los Angeles and returned to Canada, showing with a song-and-dance troupe on the CBC-TV present “Nation Hoedown,” the place he was nicknamed Gord Leadfoot due to his less-than-elegant dancing model. A fellow performer joined Mr. Lightfoot to kind a people duo, the Two Tones, and lower a dwell album in 1962, “Two Tones on the Village Nook.”

Mr. Lightfoot moved to Britain, the place he hosted a BBC nation music telecast. The surge in people music with a political edge within the Sixties, led by performers resembling Dylan and Tom Paxton, introduced Mr. Lightfoot again to the USA.

In 1965, he appeared on the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island and shortly signed with supervisor Albert Grossman, who additionally represented Dylan and Peter, Paul and Mary. He recorded his first solo album, “Lightfoot!,” in 1966. He later wrote songs concerning the 1967 Detroit riots (“Black Day in July”), whale looking and air pollution — though he mentioned he didn’t see himself as a protest singer.

“I simply wish to retain my youthful outlook in all the things — not develop outdated, congeal,” he instructed The Washington Put up in 1974. “Keep curious, questioning.”

At his dwelling in Toronto, Mr. Lightfoot had a placard saying: Anger can kill you. It was, he mentioned, a reminder of his previous abuses with alcohol that introduced on temper swings. “I wish to keep completely satisfied,” he instructed the CBC in 2019.

In March 2020, Mr. Lightfoot launched the album “Solo,” which featured Mr. Lightfoot and his guitar. The reviewer Greg Cahill on the music website the Absolute Sound praised its “emotional rawness.”

Mr. Lightfoot’s marriages to Brita Olaisson and Elizabeth Moon resulted in divorce. Survivors embody his spouse of 9 years, Kim Hasse; two youngsters from his first marriage; two youngsters from his second marriage; two sons from different relationships; and several other grandchildren.

Mr. Lightfoot described himself as a songwriter all the time in search of the “good poem.”

“It’s arduous in your thoughts, and it takes a toll in your nerves,” he instructed the CBC. “And also you obsess over it. You might be pushed to it.”

ADVERTISEMENT



Gordon Lightfoot, a Canadian balladeer whose songs of longing, loss and reminiscence made him one of many Nineteen Seventies’ hottest recording artists, with hits resembling “If You May Learn My Thoughts,” about his failed marriage, and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” which recounts a tragic sinking within the Nice Lakes, died Could 1 in Toronto. He was 84.

His publicist, Victoria Lord, confirmed the demise however gave no trigger. In April, Mr. Lightfoot canceled all his tour dates for this 12 months due to well being issues.

With a molasses-rich baritone and a soulful 12-string guitar, Mr. Lightfoot discovered worldwide fame together with others, resembling Neil Younger, Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell, who have been rising from Canadian coffeehouses and golf equipment within the Sixties.

Mr. Lightfoot remained near his roots as a Canadian troubadour, nevertheless, typically in search of to evoke the grandeur and thriller of the nation’s vastness. He launched into lengthy canoe expeditions into Canada’s hinterlands — “the place,” he mentioned, “the rivers run north into the Arctic Ocean” — and tried to convey the emotions of solitude in his work.

He mentioned his track “Sundown” (1974) was impressed by the colours of nightfall when he was residing in a Canadian farmhouse — and was interwoven right into a cautionary story about his onetime girlfriend, the backup singer Cathy Smith, who was convicted within the overdose demise of the comedy star John Belushi after she injected him with heroin and cocaine in 1982.

Mr. Lightfoot’s expansive “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” (1967) turned such a beloved anthem to Canada that it’s usually carried out by faculty choirs.

“If there was a Mount Rushmore in Canada, Gordon can be on it,” the Canadian musician Tom Cochrane mentioned in a 2019 documentary about Mr. Lightfoot, “If You May Learn My Thoughts.” Geddy Lee, the lead singer of the Canadian rock band Rush, known as him “our poet laureate.”

Mr. Lightfoot confronted non-public struggles, nevertheless. At the same time as he reached the peak of his success, he was sinking into alcoholism that shattered his relationships and clouded his creativity. He additionally had bouts of facial paralysis from the neurological dysfunction Bell’s palsy. “I created emotional trauma in a complete lot of individuals,” he mentioned.

He mentioned he stopped consuming in 1982 and resumed recording and touring. In 2002, shortly earlier than taking the stage in his hometown of Orillia, Ontario, Mr. Lightfoot collapsed and was close to demise throughout a six-week coma due to an aneurysm in his stomach aorta.

He spent two years recovering and returned to the stage and studio, making a complete of greater than 20 albums. Amongst these he credited with serving to him rebound, he mentioned, was his buddy Bob Dylan, who suggested him concerning the “work ethic” wanted to show an thought right into a track. It was all about, Mr. Lightfoot mentioned, “simply getting the job achieved.”

Mr. Lightfoot was a notable solo performer on Canada’s people music scene lengthy earlier than he got here to consideration on the U.S. charts in 1965 with successful model of his track “Early Morning Rain” by the folks duo Ian & Sylvia. Peter, Paul and Mary adopted up with a canopy of the track and in addition with Mr. Lightfoot’s “For Lovin’ Me.” (Mr. Lightfoot thought Elvis Presley’s 1972 cover of “Early Morning Rain” was among the many greatest.)

As well as, Marty Robbins hit the highest of the Billboard nation charts in 1965 with Mr. Lightfoot’s “Ribbon of Darkness.”

Starting in 1970 with “If You May Learn My Thoughts,” Mr. Lightfoot’s lyrical imagery and warbling, slow-roll vocals turned a staple of High 40 radio for the subsequent six years, together with “Sunset,” which reached the top of the Billboard Sizzling 100 chart, and 1974’s “Carefree Highway,” which he mentioned got here from a freeway signal for Carefree, Ariz., he glimpsed on a nighttime drive from Flagstaff to Phoenix.

A Canadian Broadcasting Corp. interviewer as soon as requested Mr. Lightfoot for the important playlist to know his music. On the prime, he mentioned, was the 1976 hit “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” maybe his most distinctive piece, which he wrote after studying an article concerning the sinking of an iron-ore vessel on Lake Superior throughout a storm in 1975. All 29 crew members perished.

The destiny of the doomed ship unfolds like an epic poem from the song’s first strains: “The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down/ Of the large lake they name Gitche Gumee.” And to his closing: “Superior, they mentioned, by no means provides up her useless/ When the gales of November come early.”

“As he’s singing it, you’re getting the sturdy sense that not solely is one ship happening, however a complete lifestyle is disappearing,” Robert Everett-Inexperienced, a former Toronto Globe and Mail music critic, told NPR. “It’s one thing sort of dusty and real and remoted, and it’s gone.” (The track peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Sizzling 100.)

If you could read Gordon Lightfoot’s mind, this is the tale his thoughts could tell

Mr. Lightfoot carried out greater than 2,500 concert events throughout his profession however may very well be reticent and uneasy when reporters requested for private insights into his work and legacy.

Mr. Lightfoot, who as soon as known as himself a “cosmopolitan hick,” had a shyness that might go away folks wanting extra. An interviewer on Canada’s “Breakfast Tv” present tried to coax his ideas on being thought-about a “Canadian icon.” He rapidly pivoted to speak about nature.

Throughout an interview for a 2019 Rolling Stone profile, Mr. Lightfoot mentioned he believed storytelling was on the coronary heart of his success.

“They’re all tunes that transfer alongside and have a ahead momentum,” he mentioned, “which is what I search for in my writing. Ahead momentum.”

Gordon Meredith Lightfoot Jr. was born in Orillia, Ontario, on Nov. 17, 1938. His father managed a dry cleansing facility, and his mom was a homemaker.

His performing debut was at 5 singing “I’m a Little Teapot” at a church Sunday faculty gathering. He joined the church choir, carried out on native radio exhibits and, at 13, received a expertise contest on the Kiwanis Music Competition held at Toronto’s Massey Corridor.

Mr. Lightfoot studied at Westlake School of Music in Los Angeles and returned to Canada, showing with a song-and-dance troupe on the CBC-TV present “Nation Hoedown,” the place he was nicknamed Gord Leadfoot due to his less-than-elegant dancing model. A fellow performer joined Mr. Lightfoot to kind a people duo, the Two Tones, and lower a dwell album in 1962, “Two Tones on the Village Nook.”

Mr. Lightfoot moved to Britain, the place he hosted a BBC nation music telecast. The surge in people music with a political edge within the Sixties, led by performers resembling Dylan and Tom Paxton, introduced Mr. Lightfoot again to the USA.

In 1965, he appeared on the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island and shortly signed with supervisor Albert Grossman, who additionally represented Dylan and Peter, Paul and Mary. He recorded his first solo album, “Lightfoot!,” in 1966. He later wrote songs concerning the 1967 Detroit riots (“Black Day in July”), whale looking and air pollution — though he mentioned he didn’t see himself as a protest singer.

“I simply wish to retain my youthful outlook in all the things — not develop outdated, congeal,” he instructed The Washington Put up in 1974. “Keep curious, questioning.”

At his dwelling in Toronto, Mr. Lightfoot had a placard saying: Anger can kill you. It was, he mentioned, a reminder of his previous abuses with alcohol that introduced on temper swings. “I wish to keep completely satisfied,” he instructed the CBC in 2019.

In March 2020, Mr. Lightfoot launched the album “Solo,” which featured Mr. Lightfoot and his guitar. The reviewer Greg Cahill on the music website the Absolute Sound praised its “emotional rawness.”

Mr. Lightfoot’s marriages to Brita Olaisson and Elizabeth Moon resulted in divorce. Survivors embody his spouse of 9 years, Kim Hasse; two youngsters from his first marriage; two youngsters from his second marriage; two sons from different relationships; and several other grandchildren.

Mr. Lightfoot described himself as a songwriter all the time in search of the “good poem.”

“It’s arduous in your thoughts, and it takes a toll in your nerves,” he instructed the CBC. “And also you obsess over it. You might be pushed to it.”

ADVERTISEMENT



Gordon Lightfoot, a Canadian balladeer whose songs of longing, loss and reminiscence made him one of many Nineteen Seventies’ hottest recording artists, with hits resembling “If You May Learn My Thoughts,” about his failed marriage, and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” which recounts a tragic sinking within the Nice Lakes, died Could 1 in Toronto. He was 84.

His publicist, Victoria Lord, confirmed the demise however gave no trigger. In April, Mr. Lightfoot canceled all his tour dates for this 12 months due to well being issues.

With a molasses-rich baritone and a soulful 12-string guitar, Mr. Lightfoot discovered worldwide fame together with others, resembling Neil Younger, Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell, who have been rising from Canadian coffeehouses and golf equipment within the Sixties.

Mr. Lightfoot remained near his roots as a Canadian troubadour, nevertheless, typically in search of to evoke the grandeur and thriller of the nation’s vastness. He launched into lengthy canoe expeditions into Canada’s hinterlands — “the place,” he mentioned, “the rivers run north into the Arctic Ocean” — and tried to convey the emotions of solitude in his work.

He mentioned his track “Sundown” (1974) was impressed by the colours of nightfall when he was residing in a Canadian farmhouse — and was interwoven right into a cautionary story about his onetime girlfriend, the backup singer Cathy Smith, who was convicted within the overdose demise of the comedy star John Belushi after she injected him with heroin and cocaine in 1982.

Mr. Lightfoot’s expansive “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” (1967) turned such a beloved anthem to Canada that it’s usually carried out by faculty choirs.

“If there was a Mount Rushmore in Canada, Gordon can be on it,” the Canadian musician Tom Cochrane mentioned in a 2019 documentary about Mr. Lightfoot, “If You May Learn My Thoughts.” Geddy Lee, the lead singer of the Canadian rock band Rush, known as him “our poet laureate.”

Mr. Lightfoot confronted non-public struggles, nevertheless. At the same time as he reached the peak of his success, he was sinking into alcoholism that shattered his relationships and clouded his creativity. He additionally had bouts of facial paralysis from the neurological dysfunction Bell’s palsy. “I created emotional trauma in a complete lot of individuals,” he mentioned.

He mentioned he stopped consuming in 1982 and resumed recording and touring. In 2002, shortly earlier than taking the stage in his hometown of Orillia, Ontario, Mr. Lightfoot collapsed and was close to demise throughout a six-week coma due to an aneurysm in his stomach aorta.

He spent two years recovering and returned to the stage and studio, making a complete of greater than 20 albums. Amongst these he credited with serving to him rebound, he mentioned, was his buddy Bob Dylan, who suggested him concerning the “work ethic” wanted to show an thought right into a track. It was all about, Mr. Lightfoot mentioned, “simply getting the job achieved.”

Mr. Lightfoot was a notable solo performer on Canada’s people music scene lengthy earlier than he got here to consideration on the U.S. charts in 1965 with successful model of his track “Early Morning Rain” by the folks duo Ian & Sylvia. Peter, Paul and Mary adopted up with a canopy of the track and in addition with Mr. Lightfoot’s “For Lovin’ Me.” (Mr. Lightfoot thought Elvis Presley’s 1972 cover of “Early Morning Rain” was among the many greatest.)

As well as, Marty Robbins hit the highest of the Billboard nation charts in 1965 with Mr. Lightfoot’s “Ribbon of Darkness.”

Starting in 1970 with “If You May Learn My Thoughts,” Mr. Lightfoot’s lyrical imagery and warbling, slow-roll vocals turned a staple of High 40 radio for the subsequent six years, together with “Sunset,” which reached the top of the Billboard Sizzling 100 chart, and 1974’s “Carefree Highway,” which he mentioned got here from a freeway signal for Carefree, Ariz., he glimpsed on a nighttime drive from Flagstaff to Phoenix.

A Canadian Broadcasting Corp. interviewer as soon as requested Mr. Lightfoot for the important playlist to know his music. On the prime, he mentioned, was the 1976 hit “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” maybe his most distinctive piece, which he wrote after studying an article concerning the sinking of an iron-ore vessel on Lake Superior throughout a storm in 1975. All 29 crew members perished.

The destiny of the doomed ship unfolds like an epic poem from the song’s first strains: “The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down/ Of the large lake they name Gitche Gumee.” And to his closing: “Superior, they mentioned, by no means provides up her useless/ When the gales of November come early.”

“As he’s singing it, you’re getting the sturdy sense that not solely is one ship happening, however a complete lifestyle is disappearing,” Robert Everett-Inexperienced, a former Toronto Globe and Mail music critic, told NPR. “It’s one thing sort of dusty and real and remoted, and it’s gone.” (The track peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Sizzling 100.)

If you could read Gordon Lightfoot’s mind, this is the tale his thoughts could tell

Mr. Lightfoot carried out greater than 2,500 concert events throughout his profession however may very well be reticent and uneasy when reporters requested for private insights into his work and legacy.

Mr. Lightfoot, who as soon as known as himself a “cosmopolitan hick,” had a shyness that might go away folks wanting extra. An interviewer on Canada’s “Breakfast Tv” present tried to coax his ideas on being thought-about a “Canadian icon.” He rapidly pivoted to speak about nature.

Throughout an interview for a 2019 Rolling Stone profile, Mr. Lightfoot mentioned he believed storytelling was on the coronary heart of his success.

“They’re all tunes that transfer alongside and have a ahead momentum,” he mentioned, “which is what I search for in my writing. Ahead momentum.”

Gordon Meredith Lightfoot Jr. was born in Orillia, Ontario, on Nov. 17, 1938. His father managed a dry cleansing facility, and his mom was a homemaker.

His performing debut was at 5 singing “I’m a Little Teapot” at a church Sunday faculty gathering. He joined the church choir, carried out on native radio exhibits and, at 13, received a expertise contest on the Kiwanis Music Competition held at Toronto’s Massey Corridor.

Mr. Lightfoot studied at Westlake School of Music in Los Angeles and returned to Canada, showing with a song-and-dance troupe on the CBC-TV present “Nation Hoedown,” the place he was nicknamed Gord Leadfoot due to his less-than-elegant dancing model. A fellow performer joined Mr. Lightfoot to kind a people duo, the Two Tones, and lower a dwell album in 1962, “Two Tones on the Village Nook.”

Mr. Lightfoot moved to Britain, the place he hosted a BBC nation music telecast. The surge in people music with a political edge within the Sixties, led by performers resembling Dylan and Tom Paxton, introduced Mr. Lightfoot again to the USA.

In 1965, he appeared on the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island and shortly signed with supervisor Albert Grossman, who additionally represented Dylan and Peter, Paul and Mary. He recorded his first solo album, “Lightfoot!,” in 1966. He later wrote songs concerning the 1967 Detroit riots (“Black Day in July”), whale looking and air pollution — though he mentioned he didn’t see himself as a protest singer.

“I simply wish to retain my youthful outlook in all the things — not develop outdated, congeal,” he instructed The Washington Put up in 1974. “Keep curious, questioning.”

At his dwelling in Toronto, Mr. Lightfoot had a placard saying: Anger can kill you. It was, he mentioned, a reminder of his previous abuses with alcohol that introduced on temper swings. “I wish to keep completely satisfied,” he instructed the CBC in 2019.

In March 2020, Mr. Lightfoot launched the album “Solo,” which featured Mr. Lightfoot and his guitar. The reviewer Greg Cahill on the music website the Absolute Sound praised its “emotional rawness.”

Mr. Lightfoot’s marriages to Brita Olaisson and Elizabeth Moon resulted in divorce. Survivors embody his spouse of 9 years, Kim Hasse; two youngsters from his first marriage; two youngsters from his second marriage; two sons from different relationships; and several other grandchildren.

Mr. Lightfoot described himself as a songwriter all the time in search of the “good poem.”

“It’s arduous in your thoughts, and it takes a toll in your nerves,” he instructed the CBC. “And also you obsess over it. You might be pushed to it.”

ADVERTISEMENT



Gordon Lightfoot, a Canadian balladeer whose songs of longing, loss and reminiscence made him one of many Nineteen Seventies’ hottest recording artists, with hits resembling “If You May Learn My Thoughts,” about his failed marriage, and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” which recounts a tragic sinking within the Nice Lakes, died Could 1 in Toronto. He was 84.

His publicist, Victoria Lord, confirmed the demise however gave no trigger. In April, Mr. Lightfoot canceled all his tour dates for this 12 months due to well being issues.

With a molasses-rich baritone and a soulful 12-string guitar, Mr. Lightfoot discovered worldwide fame together with others, resembling Neil Younger, Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell, who have been rising from Canadian coffeehouses and golf equipment within the Sixties.

Mr. Lightfoot remained near his roots as a Canadian troubadour, nevertheless, typically in search of to evoke the grandeur and thriller of the nation’s vastness. He launched into lengthy canoe expeditions into Canada’s hinterlands — “the place,” he mentioned, “the rivers run north into the Arctic Ocean” — and tried to convey the emotions of solitude in his work.

He mentioned his track “Sundown” (1974) was impressed by the colours of nightfall when he was residing in a Canadian farmhouse — and was interwoven right into a cautionary story about his onetime girlfriend, the backup singer Cathy Smith, who was convicted within the overdose demise of the comedy star John Belushi after she injected him with heroin and cocaine in 1982.

Mr. Lightfoot’s expansive “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” (1967) turned such a beloved anthem to Canada that it’s usually carried out by faculty choirs.

“If there was a Mount Rushmore in Canada, Gordon can be on it,” the Canadian musician Tom Cochrane mentioned in a 2019 documentary about Mr. Lightfoot, “If You May Learn My Thoughts.” Geddy Lee, the lead singer of the Canadian rock band Rush, known as him “our poet laureate.”

Mr. Lightfoot confronted non-public struggles, nevertheless. At the same time as he reached the peak of his success, he was sinking into alcoholism that shattered his relationships and clouded his creativity. He additionally had bouts of facial paralysis from the neurological dysfunction Bell’s palsy. “I created emotional trauma in a complete lot of individuals,” he mentioned.

He mentioned he stopped consuming in 1982 and resumed recording and touring. In 2002, shortly earlier than taking the stage in his hometown of Orillia, Ontario, Mr. Lightfoot collapsed and was close to demise throughout a six-week coma due to an aneurysm in his stomach aorta.

He spent two years recovering and returned to the stage and studio, making a complete of greater than 20 albums. Amongst these he credited with serving to him rebound, he mentioned, was his buddy Bob Dylan, who suggested him concerning the “work ethic” wanted to show an thought right into a track. It was all about, Mr. Lightfoot mentioned, “simply getting the job achieved.”

Mr. Lightfoot was a notable solo performer on Canada’s people music scene lengthy earlier than he got here to consideration on the U.S. charts in 1965 with successful model of his track “Early Morning Rain” by the folks duo Ian & Sylvia. Peter, Paul and Mary adopted up with a canopy of the track and in addition with Mr. Lightfoot’s “For Lovin’ Me.” (Mr. Lightfoot thought Elvis Presley’s 1972 cover of “Early Morning Rain” was among the many greatest.)

As well as, Marty Robbins hit the highest of the Billboard nation charts in 1965 with Mr. Lightfoot’s “Ribbon of Darkness.”

Starting in 1970 with “If You May Learn My Thoughts,” Mr. Lightfoot’s lyrical imagery and warbling, slow-roll vocals turned a staple of High 40 radio for the subsequent six years, together with “Sunset,” which reached the top of the Billboard Sizzling 100 chart, and 1974’s “Carefree Highway,” which he mentioned got here from a freeway signal for Carefree, Ariz., he glimpsed on a nighttime drive from Flagstaff to Phoenix.

A Canadian Broadcasting Corp. interviewer as soon as requested Mr. Lightfoot for the important playlist to know his music. On the prime, he mentioned, was the 1976 hit “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” maybe his most distinctive piece, which he wrote after studying an article concerning the sinking of an iron-ore vessel on Lake Superior throughout a storm in 1975. All 29 crew members perished.

The destiny of the doomed ship unfolds like an epic poem from the song’s first strains: “The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down/ Of the large lake they name Gitche Gumee.” And to his closing: “Superior, they mentioned, by no means provides up her useless/ When the gales of November come early.”

“As he’s singing it, you’re getting the sturdy sense that not solely is one ship happening, however a complete lifestyle is disappearing,” Robert Everett-Inexperienced, a former Toronto Globe and Mail music critic, told NPR. “It’s one thing sort of dusty and real and remoted, and it’s gone.” (The track peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Sizzling 100.)

If you could read Gordon Lightfoot’s mind, this is the tale his thoughts could tell

Mr. Lightfoot carried out greater than 2,500 concert events throughout his profession however may very well be reticent and uneasy when reporters requested for private insights into his work and legacy.

Mr. Lightfoot, who as soon as known as himself a “cosmopolitan hick,” had a shyness that might go away folks wanting extra. An interviewer on Canada’s “Breakfast Tv” present tried to coax his ideas on being thought-about a “Canadian icon.” He rapidly pivoted to speak about nature.

Throughout an interview for a 2019 Rolling Stone profile, Mr. Lightfoot mentioned he believed storytelling was on the coronary heart of his success.

“They’re all tunes that transfer alongside and have a ahead momentum,” he mentioned, “which is what I search for in my writing. Ahead momentum.”

Gordon Meredith Lightfoot Jr. was born in Orillia, Ontario, on Nov. 17, 1938. His father managed a dry cleansing facility, and his mom was a homemaker.

His performing debut was at 5 singing “I’m a Little Teapot” at a church Sunday faculty gathering. He joined the church choir, carried out on native radio exhibits and, at 13, received a expertise contest on the Kiwanis Music Competition held at Toronto’s Massey Corridor.

Mr. Lightfoot studied at Westlake School of Music in Los Angeles and returned to Canada, showing with a song-and-dance troupe on the CBC-TV present “Nation Hoedown,” the place he was nicknamed Gord Leadfoot due to his less-than-elegant dancing model. A fellow performer joined Mr. Lightfoot to kind a people duo, the Two Tones, and lower a dwell album in 1962, “Two Tones on the Village Nook.”

Mr. Lightfoot moved to Britain, the place he hosted a BBC nation music telecast. The surge in people music with a political edge within the Sixties, led by performers resembling Dylan and Tom Paxton, introduced Mr. Lightfoot again to the USA.

In 1965, he appeared on the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island and shortly signed with supervisor Albert Grossman, who additionally represented Dylan and Peter, Paul and Mary. He recorded his first solo album, “Lightfoot!,” in 1966. He later wrote songs concerning the 1967 Detroit riots (“Black Day in July”), whale looking and air pollution — though he mentioned he didn’t see himself as a protest singer.

“I simply wish to retain my youthful outlook in all the things — not develop outdated, congeal,” he instructed The Washington Put up in 1974. “Keep curious, questioning.”

At his dwelling in Toronto, Mr. Lightfoot had a placard saying: Anger can kill you. It was, he mentioned, a reminder of his previous abuses with alcohol that introduced on temper swings. “I wish to keep completely satisfied,” he instructed the CBC in 2019.

In March 2020, Mr. Lightfoot launched the album “Solo,” which featured Mr. Lightfoot and his guitar. The reviewer Greg Cahill on the music website the Absolute Sound praised its “emotional rawness.”

Mr. Lightfoot’s marriages to Brita Olaisson and Elizabeth Moon resulted in divorce. Survivors embody his spouse of 9 years, Kim Hasse; two youngsters from his first marriage; two youngsters from his second marriage; two sons from different relationships; and several other grandchildren.

Mr. Lightfoot described himself as a songwriter all the time in search of the “good poem.”

“It’s arduous in your thoughts, and it takes a toll in your nerves,” he instructed the CBC. “And also you obsess over it. You might be pushed to it.”

ADVERTISEMENT



Gordon Lightfoot, a Canadian balladeer whose songs of longing, loss and reminiscence made him one of many Nineteen Seventies’ hottest recording artists, with hits resembling “If You May Learn My Thoughts,” about his failed marriage, and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” which recounts a tragic sinking within the Nice Lakes, died Could 1 in Toronto. He was 84.

His publicist, Victoria Lord, confirmed the demise however gave no trigger. In April, Mr. Lightfoot canceled all his tour dates for this 12 months due to well being issues.

With a molasses-rich baritone and a soulful 12-string guitar, Mr. Lightfoot discovered worldwide fame together with others, resembling Neil Younger, Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell, who have been rising from Canadian coffeehouses and golf equipment within the Sixties.

Mr. Lightfoot remained near his roots as a Canadian troubadour, nevertheless, typically in search of to evoke the grandeur and thriller of the nation’s vastness. He launched into lengthy canoe expeditions into Canada’s hinterlands — “the place,” he mentioned, “the rivers run north into the Arctic Ocean” — and tried to convey the emotions of solitude in his work.

He mentioned his track “Sundown” (1974) was impressed by the colours of nightfall when he was residing in a Canadian farmhouse — and was interwoven right into a cautionary story about his onetime girlfriend, the backup singer Cathy Smith, who was convicted within the overdose demise of the comedy star John Belushi after she injected him with heroin and cocaine in 1982.

Mr. Lightfoot’s expansive “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” (1967) turned such a beloved anthem to Canada that it’s usually carried out by faculty choirs.

“If there was a Mount Rushmore in Canada, Gordon can be on it,” the Canadian musician Tom Cochrane mentioned in a 2019 documentary about Mr. Lightfoot, “If You May Learn My Thoughts.” Geddy Lee, the lead singer of the Canadian rock band Rush, known as him “our poet laureate.”

Mr. Lightfoot confronted non-public struggles, nevertheless. At the same time as he reached the peak of his success, he was sinking into alcoholism that shattered his relationships and clouded his creativity. He additionally had bouts of facial paralysis from the neurological dysfunction Bell’s palsy. “I created emotional trauma in a complete lot of individuals,” he mentioned.

He mentioned he stopped consuming in 1982 and resumed recording and touring. In 2002, shortly earlier than taking the stage in his hometown of Orillia, Ontario, Mr. Lightfoot collapsed and was close to demise throughout a six-week coma due to an aneurysm in his stomach aorta.

He spent two years recovering and returned to the stage and studio, making a complete of greater than 20 albums. Amongst these he credited with serving to him rebound, he mentioned, was his buddy Bob Dylan, who suggested him concerning the “work ethic” wanted to show an thought right into a track. It was all about, Mr. Lightfoot mentioned, “simply getting the job achieved.”

Mr. Lightfoot was a notable solo performer on Canada’s people music scene lengthy earlier than he got here to consideration on the U.S. charts in 1965 with successful model of his track “Early Morning Rain” by the folks duo Ian & Sylvia. Peter, Paul and Mary adopted up with a canopy of the track and in addition with Mr. Lightfoot’s “For Lovin’ Me.” (Mr. Lightfoot thought Elvis Presley’s 1972 cover of “Early Morning Rain” was among the many greatest.)

As well as, Marty Robbins hit the highest of the Billboard nation charts in 1965 with Mr. Lightfoot’s “Ribbon of Darkness.”

Starting in 1970 with “If You May Learn My Thoughts,” Mr. Lightfoot’s lyrical imagery and warbling, slow-roll vocals turned a staple of High 40 radio for the subsequent six years, together with “Sunset,” which reached the top of the Billboard Sizzling 100 chart, and 1974’s “Carefree Highway,” which he mentioned got here from a freeway signal for Carefree, Ariz., he glimpsed on a nighttime drive from Flagstaff to Phoenix.

A Canadian Broadcasting Corp. interviewer as soon as requested Mr. Lightfoot for the important playlist to know his music. On the prime, he mentioned, was the 1976 hit “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” maybe his most distinctive piece, which he wrote after studying an article concerning the sinking of an iron-ore vessel on Lake Superior throughout a storm in 1975. All 29 crew members perished.

The destiny of the doomed ship unfolds like an epic poem from the song’s first strains: “The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down/ Of the large lake they name Gitche Gumee.” And to his closing: “Superior, they mentioned, by no means provides up her useless/ When the gales of November come early.”

“As he’s singing it, you’re getting the sturdy sense that not solely is one ship happening, however a complete lifestyle is disappearing,” Robert Everett-Inexperienced, a former Toronto Globe and Mail music critic, told NPR. “It’s one thing sort of dusty and real and remoted, and it’s gone.” (The track peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Sizzling 100.)

If you could read Gordon Lightfoot’s mind, this is the tale his thoughts could tell

Mr. Lightfoot carried out greater than 2,500 concert events throughout his profession however may very well be reticent and uneasy when reporters requested for private insights into his work and legacy.

Mr. Lightfoot, who as soon as known as himself a “cosmopolitan hick,” had a shyness that might go away folks wanting extra. An interviewer on Canada’s “Breakfast Tv” present tried to coax his ideas on being thought-about a “Canadian icon.” He rapidly pivoted to speak about nature.

Throughout an interview for a 2019 Rolling Stone profile, Mr. Lightfoot mentioned he believed storytelling was on the coronary heart of his success.

“They’re all tunes that transfer alongside and have a ahead momentum,” he mentioned, “which is what I search for in my writing. Ahead momentum.”

Gordon Meredith Lightfoot Jr. was born in Orillia, Ontario, on Nov. 17, 1938. His father managed a dry cleansing facility, and his mom was a homemaker.

His performing debut was at 5 singing “I’m a Little Teapot” at a church Sunday faculty gathering. He joined the church choir, carried out on native radio exhibits and, at 13, received a expertise contest on the Kiwanis Music Competition held at Toronto’s Massey Corridor.

Mr. Lightfoot studied at Westlake School of Music in Los Angeles and returned to Canada, showing with a song-and-dance troupe on the CBC-TV present “Nation Hoedown,” the place he was nicknamed Gord Leadfoot due to his less-than-elegant dancing model. A fellow performer joined Mr. Lightfoot to kind a people duo, the Two Tones, and lower a dwell album in 1962, “Two Tones on the Village Nook.”

Mr. Lightfoot moved to Britain, the place he hosted a BBC nation music telecast. The surge in people music with a political edge within the Sixties, led by performers resembling Dylan and Tom Paxton, introduced Mr. Lightfoot again to the USA.

In 1965, he appeared on the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island and shortly signed with supervisor Albert Grossman, who additionally represented Dylan and Peter, Paul and Mary. He recorded his first solo album, “Lightfoot!,” in 1966. He later wrote songs concerning the 1967 Detroit riots (“Black Day in July”), whale looking and air pollution — though he mentioned he didn’t see himself as a protest singer.

“I simply wish to retain my youthful outlook in all the things — not develop outdated, congeal,” he instructed The Washington Put up in 1974. “Keep curious, questioning.”

At his dwelling in Toronto, Mr. Lightfoot had a placard saying: Anger can kill you. It was, he mentioned, a reminder of his previous abuses with alcohol that introduced on temper swings. “I wish to keep completely satisfied,” he instructed the CBC in 2019.

In March 2020, Mr. Lightfoot launched the album “Solo,” which featured Mr. Lightfoot and his guitar. The reviewer Greg Cahill on the music website the Absolute Sound praised its “emotional rawness.”

Mr. Lightfoot’s marriages to Brita Olaisson and Elizabeth Moon resulted in divorce. Survivors embody his spouse of 9 years, Kim Hasse; two youngsters from his first marriage; two youngsters from his second marriage; two sons from different relationships; and several other grandchildren.

Mr. Lightfoot described himself as a songwriter all the time in search of the “good poem.”

“It’s arduous in your thoughts, and it takes a toll in your nerves,” he instructed the CBC. “And also you obsess over it. You might be pushed to it.”

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