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Rainy Day People Don’t Mind if You’re Cryin’

Beloved Canadian singer-songwriter and guitarist Gordon Lightfoot passed away at age 84

Tears were shed when Gordon Lightfoot, the much beloved Canadian singer-songwriter and guitarist, died on May 1, 2023. Lightfoot was internationally renowned for folk, folk-rock, and country music. He is considered one of North America’s greatest songwriters.

The day after his death at 84, Lightfoot had the top three songs on Apple Music in the USA.

He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and he received the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honour.

Born November 17, 1938, in Orillia, Ontario, Lightfoot began playing music at a young age and was soon performing at local events. He moved to Toronto in the early 1960s and became a regular at the city’s coffeehouses and folk clubs. There, he honed his craft and developed his signature sound, which blended traditional folk melodies with contemporary instrumentation.

His extraordinary productivity, especially during the 70s, led to many hits permanently attached to millions of Canadians’ DNA.

Sundown, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, If You Could Read My Mind, and many more hits made him a superstar.

Lightfoot released a string of successful albums, many of which achieved gold and multi-platinum status internationally. He wrote songs about various topics, including trains and shipwrecks, rivers and highways, lovers and loneliness. His lyrics were poetic and evocative, and his melodies were instantly recognizable.

Gordon Lightfoot’s Alberta Bound

His quest for adventure and love of Alberta was captured in his iconic song Alberta Bound.

Lightfoot’s music was admired by many of his peers, including Bob Dylan, who called him one of his favourite songwriters. Dylan said, “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.” Robbie Robertson of The Band described Lightfoot as “a national treasure.”

Some of the world’s most renowned musical artists recorded Lightfoot’s songs, including Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand, and Johnny Cash. His music was also featured in movies and television shows, cementing his place in popular culture.

In addition to his musical accomplishments, Lightfoot received numerous honours and awards throughout his career.

Lightfoot was also a philanthropist and used his platform to support causes he believed in, including environmental conservation and Indigenous rights. He was a tireless advocate for the Great Lakes and other natural resources and worked to raise awareness about the importance of protecting these resources for future generations.

One of Lightfoot’s most powerful songs was “Black Day in July,” about the 1967 Detroit riots. It still resonates today. Like many of his songs, it was beautifully constructed and a plea for racial harmony.

But a few weeks after its release, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4. Radio stations across the USA took the song off the air for allegedly “fanning the flames,” even though the song was a plea for peace and justice. Lightfoot said at the time, radio station owners cared more about playing songs “that make people happy” and not those “that make people think.”

Lightfoot’s legacy will live on through his music, which continues to inspire and delight audiences worldwide. His songs are timeless and have a way of resonating with people from all walks of life. As his biographer Nicholas Jennings said, “His name is synonymous with timeless songs.”

Gordon Lightfoot was a true Canadian icon and will be deeply missed by his family, friends, and fans. His music will continue to be a source of comfort and inspiration for years to come. Rest in peace, Gordon.

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