Gordon Lightfoot

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  • Sundown
  • If You Could Read My Mind

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About Gordon Lightfoot

Gordon Lightfoot was not only one of Canada’s most famous musical exports but also one of the key figures in the ’70s singer-songwriter boom. His warm, oaky baritone, precision-tooled lyrics, and mix of folk, country, and pop influences made him a major hitmaker in both his homeland and the U.S. Born in Orillia, Ontario, in 1938, he began singing as a child and eventually gained experience in classical music, jazz, and more before becoming a part of the burgeoning folk scene in the early ’60s. By mid-decade, he had found as much success in Canada with other artists’ versions of his songs (Ian & Sylvia and Peter, Paul & Mary all recorded his tunes) as with his own recordings, but his smash 1970 ballad “If You Could Read My Mind” began his run as a U.S. pop star. Plenty more hits followed over the next few years, including “Carefree Highway,” “Rainy Day People,” and the U.S. No. 1 smash “Sundown”; however, Lightfoot’s 1976 true-life seafaring epic “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” became his best-known work. His output slowed after the ’80s, and he fought his way back from numerous serious health issues in the 2000s, including a stroke. But by decade’s end, he was performing again as an elder statesman of Canadian music and one of the nation’s most celebrated sons. Lightfoot died in May 2023 at the age of 84.

Orillia, Ontario, Canada
November 17, 1938

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