My introduction to Canadian musician Gordon Lightfoot was as a 10-year-old newbie babysitter in Atlin, British Columbia in 1969, maybe 1970. First, why the local RCMP constable thought I was competent enough to babysit his child, I’ll never know. But, the best thing after the baby was down was their collection of albums and the record player — which I knew how to operate with instructions from my 14-year-old brother. The albums my employers had were an odd batch, but they did have Gordon Lightfoot. I played those over and over; remember now, this is waiting for the album to run its course, then lifting the needle to start again. It made a 10-year-old babysitter stay awake even after midnight when I made one dollar an hour.
But Gordon Lightfoot. I remember clearly, as a 10-year-old, thinking, “He is telling stories in songs. I’m learning Canadian history.” It was my first realization that was possible. And his music, his lyrics, how beautiful. How poignant. I knew I wanted to tell stories like that one day.
The next ‘meeting’ I had with Gordon Lightfoot was in the early 1980’s when I worked for a local newspaper in Saskatoon and had a chance to interview The Good Brothers. Remember them? They were fun. I think, if I’m not mistaken, they played The Manhattan, and I interviewed them the next day. The chat came around to Gordon Lightfoot and how they revered him! The next half hour was all about Gordon and how much they respected him as a musician, a mentor, and especially as a Canadian. No one, one said (I can’t recall which one) is more Canadian than Gordon Lightfoot.
We’ll be asking Alexa to play a lot of him in the next few days. And maybe some Good Brothers, too.