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Gordon Lightfoot on his battle with alcoholism

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.

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"Let the beautiful place be open." With those words, Gordon Lightfoot officially opens Renascent House, a rehabilitation clinic for alcoholics in downtown Toronto. In this CBC Television clip, Lightfoot says he has a personal reason for making the rare public appearance. "I have a history of similar problems of my own," the singer says. Lightfoot says he was not lucky enough to have a facility like Renascent House when he stopped drinking many years ago.
. In a 1975 interview, the CBC's Elwood Glover asked Lightfoot how he remained so prolific as a songwriter. "I find that the odd drink helps," joked Lightfoot. Lightfoot battled alcoholism throughout his career before finally beating his addiction in 1982.

. Lightfoot told the Toronto Sun in 1996 that his trouble started in 1972 when he mixed alcohol with medication for temporary facial paralysis. Before making a record or going on tour he would dry out by going on long, alcohol-free canoe trips through Northern Canada. "One of the main reasons I gave up drinking was that my writing had slowed to a crawl," he said.
Medium: Television
Program: CBC at Six
Broadcast Date: July 9, 1992
Guest(s): Gordon Lightfoot, Frank O'Dea
Reporter: Beth Harrington
Duration: 1:34

Last updated: June 14, 2012

Page consulted on February 4, 2015

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