Sunday, February 21, 2010
Don't you just love the internet? News travels at insane speeds, though most of it reads like it was fact-checked by a sleep deprived chimp who has just polished off three bottles of cough syrup.
Indeed, it must have been that very primate who let news of Gordon Lightfoot's death slip past quality control and take up a portion of cyberspace, namely the websites of several Canadian newspapers a few days ago.
That is until the man himself made a statement to the contrary, courtesy of a Toronto news station. Currently on tour, Lightfoot is delivering his classics to packed houses. Catch him in the act if you can. His work is understated, has been covered by countless artists and is well worthy of investigation.
Don Quixote is no exception.
Not a runaway commercial smash upon release, the bearded bard turned in this thoroughly laid back set back in early 1972. Lightfoot was on an artistic roll during this period, having nicely bevelled some of the rougher edges found in his earliest work (also great) to find a superb balance between what he had to say and how he would sonically present it. Delicate acoustic passages, fine supporting players and a sure touch with a tune are all strengths that enhance the listening experience, though it is his way with words that steals the show.
One of the finest lyricists to ever commit pen to paper.
In this respect, he had few peers, always exploring interesting themes, story telling and making it all seem effortless. That rich, distinct vocal delivery is his signature, perfectly balanced against a backdrop of acoustics, sighing steel and occasional strings. Rarely missing the mark, Don Quixote would slip neatly into the alt country/folk parade that, to these ears, has been a hiding place for the more experimental aspects of rock since the mid-nineties.
Whether he's celebrating Canadian geography in the guise of uprooting and heading west ("Alberta Bound") spinning an early ecological tale ("Ode to Big Blue") or simply turning out one of the most touching love songs to ever grace a record ("Beautiful") this is Lightfoot at his best. The title of "poet" is too readily assigned these days, more often than not to hacks whose attempts at profundity should be relegated to the broom closets of the Hallmark corporation.
Lightfoot's work remains in a class of its own.
Spend some quality time with Gord