Gordon Lightfoot 1938-2023

There’s a Ribbon of Darkness over the music industry, Gordon Lightfoot is gone. Just typing that felt wrong, I thought Gordon would always be here, probably because he always was. He was a part of our lives for six decades, from the 1960s to the 2220s. So many songs from the early days of Ribbon of Darkness, Steel Rail Blues, The Way I Feel and I’m Not Saying to Black Day in July, Sundown, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald to his classic If You Could Read My Mind, Lightfoot continued to grow as a songwriter, cementing his place in musical history and becoming, as Robbie Robertson put it, ” A Canadian treasure.” And causing Bob Dylan to say “I can’t think of any Gordon Lightfoot song I don’t like. Every time I hear a song of his, it’s like I wish it would last forever.”

Another of Gordon’s contemporaries, Eric Andersen posted “Gordon was from Orillia, Ontario, home the Mariposa Folk Festival. He kindly introduced my band for the stage for our festival set and I asked beforehand if he would sing me “If You Could Read My Mind?” He was just recovering but happily obliged in a corn-husky soulful voice. Who couldn’t love and admire the seemingly effortless majesty of his works! I recorded “Sundown” some time ago with Steve Addabbo in New York and hope we can get it released soon. His songs are spirits you always carry with you. Gonna miss him badly. “

Lightfoot was nominated for four Grammy awards, including for The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, about the drowning of 29 sailors when a freight ship sank in Lake Superior. He was a perennial winner of Canada’s Junos in the 1970s, winning 12 awards during the decade. And in 2003 he was awarded the companion of the Order of Canada – the country’s highest civilian honour. But Gordon didn’t become swell-headed with all these accolades, in fact, was even quoted as saying “Sometimes I wonder why I’m being called an icon because I really don’t think of myself that way.” He said ““I simply write the songs about where I am and where I’m from, I take situations and write poems about them. I just like to stay there and be a part of the totem pole and look after the responsibilities I’ve acquired over the years.”

Gordon remained active as a touring artist until just before he passed only cancelling his planned tour of the US and Canada last month.

He is survived by his wife Kim Hasse, six children, Fred, Ingrid, Gaylen, Eric, Miles and Meredith and several grandchildren.

When asked how he wanted to be remembered he said “A fair guy. I’m not really worried about that very much, you know. I’m going to leave a clean campsite when I get out of here.”

Carry on Gord, down the Carefree Highway, your legacy and songs will live forever.