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WriteOut of Her Mind

by Kelly Waterhouse

Lightfoot, light heart

Tick another box of my Canada 150 bucket list.

I got to see Gordon Lightfoot perform at the Elora Festival. He must have known I was in the audience, because he performed The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald (What? It’s our song. Trust me.).

And just because the iconic singer had to stop the performance to use nasal spray and then clear his sinuses into a tissue (I kid you not) before starting up the song again, doesn’t mean that it wasn’t worth every Canadian loonie to hear Lightfoot sing one of my favourite folk songs.

I bought four tickets to the show back in early spring, just before it sold out.

Since then I had heard every joke about Lightfoot’s advanced age, his vocal range, why I should lower my expectations, yadda, yadda, yadda. Everyone was a comedian and a naysayer.

Lightfoot must have heard the same rhetoric, because feeble though he was, when he walked up to the microphone to address the crowd, he quoted Mark Twain by saying, “the rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

We Canucks are funny.

Some of my friends were surprised I’d be a fan of the folk singer, because I tend to like my music a little more on the rock side. But the truth is, Lightfoot has been on my road trip playlist for as long as I could drive.

The soundtrack of my life is as varied and complex as the moods it inspires (and nobody can swing a mood like me). What kind of a writer would I be if I didn’t appreciate folk music? How could I not be enamoured by poetic metaphors, sentimental ballads or tragic tales?

Lightfoot may have me by a few generations but he was still producing great music in my childhood (further old jokes will not be tolerated - understand?). Music is ageless. It’s timeless.

In the hands of a true storyteller like Lightfoot, it unites us all. How very Canadian.

Lightfoot is a man who unapologetically packed a lot of lives into one, and at his age, the fact that he can still make me feel a song, take me somewhere else in time, and remember the words better than I do - that speaks volumes for me. The fact he played Canada Day in Ottawa to much fanfare (because he’s still singing about us), and can sell out audiences on his current tour speaks volumes for him.

I had no expectations of Lightfoot, and he had none of me. All I wanted was a beautiful summer night out with good friends and music that I believe has an authentically Canadian sound. Our music. This was my Canada 150 celebration. (Also, can I just say, I was thrilled there were no back-up dancers? There is whole generation of people behind me who actually believe a singer needs choreography. Please, pray for them.)

Lightfoot did me proud. He played the songs the people wanted to hear, and sure The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald was a cool Canada 150 experience for me.

But in hindsight, I believe the song he played for me was Don Quixote, for reasons only Lightfoot and I need to know. He knew I needed it. And I am grateful.

Worth it.



Vol 50 Issue 30


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