I’ve often reflected on Gordon Lightfoot’s influence over the years here on these pages and on the pages in my notebooks. So many memories. Listening to his music in Dad’s old truck, learning the bass parts to so many songs, having discussions about meanings behind the lyrics… I could go on. Really, for pages on end.
Gordon Lightfoot’s music has long been secured in history, woven through the fabric of folk music and the Canadian identity. They are a passport into historical chapters and the human condition. “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” and “The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald” remain powerful music standards decades after they were first released. They tell complete stories while bringing things to a musical crescendo, taking listeners right along with it to points where they know of the importance in each piece.
Even beyond folk, he evolved and experimented when inclined to do so. The more polished-sounding albums of the late 70’s through the 80’s and more recent material have many moments worthy of being committed to memory.
Bassist Rick Haynes referred to Gordon’s melodies as “beautiful” during the 1979 soundstage broadcast concert which can be found on YouTube. Might be the best way to describe them, even if it is an understatement of sorts. I thought the melody and words for “Inspiration Lady” from 2004’s “Harmony” were so powerful that my spouse and I made it our wedding song. Note – At the time of Gord’s passing, Richard Haynes was still a member of the Lightfoot touring band.
As a bassist, I enjoy playing along to his material especially from the earlier drummer-less trio days. John Stockfish and Richard Haynes both proved to be massively skilled musicians in their own right. They both possessed a great sense of timing and melody, knowing where to add things and when to lay back on just the chord roots. I highly recommend the BBC concert for an excellent display of the Lightfoot trio format. On that show he is joined by Richard Haynes and Red Shea.
Since I first was introduced to his music, I have never gone more than a week without listening to a Gordon Lightfoot track. I treat Rush and Black Sabbath the same way. In my view, that is a testament to his influence and the range of fans he captured.
Another legend to be laid to rest. Condolences to Kim, Fred, Ingrid, Galen, Eric, Miles, Meredith and all his family and close friends.