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Gordon Lightfoot: Harmony and Inspiration

His melodic, soulful voice is unmistakable. A modern-day troubadour, Gordon Lightfoot has touched the lives of millions of people with his thoughtful, evocative portraits of Canadian life and landscape. He's a musician steeped in the folk tradition, his catalogue of songs, including such classics as Canadian Railroad Trilogy and The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, earning him a place in the pantheon of Canadian icons.

Gordon Lightfoot is cementing his comeback from life-threatening illness. The video for his new single - the delicate, sentimental ballad Inspiration Lady - is out. And tomorrow, the legendary singer-songwriter releases his twentieth album, Harmony. "I'm fighting my way back," Lightfoot tells journalists and friends at his record release party in this CBC Television clip. Later, he takes a seat at Toronto's Massey Hall - his favourite venue to play - and thoughtfully elaborates on that fight in a wide-ranging interview.

Lightfoot, who collapsed with an abdominal hemorrhage 19 months ago, says years of vigorous exercise helped him recover. The 65-year-old legend has no plans to retire. His famous voice is "hiding" but he's sure it will re-emerge after some more practice to get his "rearranged" stomach muscles back in shape. Lightfoot also talks about his favourite songs and how he hasn't licensed his music for commercials. "I don't want the beer commercial to be my epitaph," he says.
• Gordon Lightfoot's album Harmony got mixed but mostly favourable reviews. Lightfoot's Steven Wine, a critic for the American wire service Associated Press, wrote that the troubadour's "voice is thinner and more nasal than when it was a fixture on AM radio, but Lightfoot's folksy delivery remains distinctive. It's like hearing unexpectedly from an old friend."

Harmony was Lightfoot's first album since the Songbook compilation released in 1999 and his first collection of new songs since A Painter Passing Through in 1998. However, a tribute album of cover versions of Lightfoot songs was released in the autumn of 2003 after his illness. Beautiful: A Tribute to Gordon Lightfoot features covers by artists including The Tragically Hip, Blue Rodeo, Cowboy Junkies and Ron Sexsmith.

• Lightfoot recorded the vocal tracks for all 11 songs on Harmony before he fell ill. He said at the record release party that he hoped to sing again in public in November 2004. He told the Globe and Mail newspaper that he hoped to perform a benefit concert for the Hamilton hospital complex where doctors saved his life. "It will be a test for me and also a test for the people who worked on me," he said.
Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: May 10, 2004
Guest(s): Gordon Lightfoot
Reporter: Heather Hiscox
Duration: 7:20

Last updated: February 13, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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