Posted By RichC on September 2, 2019
All too often lately I’m reminded that the memories I have as a boy growing up are seen as being from “the olden days.” An article in this past month’s WSJ highlighted the beloved Gordon Lightfoot, a Canadian folk singer and songwriter who’s work spans many decades. His music was enjoyed and listened to by young and old alike, a rarity nowadays.
The article offer a little bit of his early history and people/events that influence his musical path. The following YouTube video highlights some of his music from the 1960s and 1970s in a concert form. I enjoyed both the personal stories and watching/listening.
I liked going up to the attic to be alone and think of songs to write. It was an inspiring space but isolating. My first musical hero was Louis Armstrong. In 1956, he was replaced by Elvis Presley. That’s when my father bought me a guitar. I used to do Elvis impersonations. Later, Elvis recorded my songs “Early Morning Rain” and “For Lovin’ Me.”
My career took off in 1965 when Peter, Paul & Mary recorded my song, “For Lovin’ Me.” When it reached No. 30 on Billboard’s pop chart, Albert Grossman, who managed them, Bob Dylan, Odetta and other folk artists, signed me.
From that point on, I didn’t have to worry about securing work permits in the U.S. I started traveling back and forth between Toronto and New York, and I’ve been touring ever since.
A few of his songs had me flashing back to hanging out with my friend Charlie Matthews and contemplating sailing and life as we looked for direction, knowing we would both be heading to college after high school (photo in 1984 after college). Both of Charlie and I had similar and a somewhat odd music taste compared to many of our rock and roll loving peers (they pinched their noses at folk music or anything with a twang). Just as with most direction-challenged teenagers, who pretended to have it all together, we stressed over our future … which was clearly BLURRILY out of focus (that doesn’t change no matter the generation). Charlie and I remained friends, but took decidedly different paths in life. He headed to China after college (his teaching VISA revoked after the 1989 Tiananmen Democracy Movement) Thankfully for me, I kept my options open, kept plugging away at school and work … got married and never strayed too far off the “acceptable path” … yet have always remained a gypsy dreamer in my head … which gets stimulated when listening to music like this from the past.