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Gordon Lightfoot a Folk Music Legend

This year doesn't just mark the anniversary of the Edmund Fitzgerald sinking.  Gordon Lightfoot, a Canadian born singer and songwriter, has been internationally known for many years in a folk and country music career that has spanned many decades. He is one of the most influential songwriters of his generation, having penned hits for many other artists along with some songs that he recorded and brought to the airwaves. Gordon Lightfoot has had a career that has spanned for five decades, an incredible length of time for anyone but even more impressive considering all of the illness that he had to fight through beginning in the 1990s to keep going.

Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

He is back in the news with the November 10 anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The ship was tragically sunk in the waters of Lake Superior on November 10, 1975. Gordon Lightfoot memorialized the sinking with his epic song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald", a song that went to number 2 on the charts in the United States and number 1 in his native Canada. He wrote the song after reading about the sinking in an article in a magazine. The lyrics of the song basically reflect what transpired the day the Edmund Fitzgerald went down in the cold waters [1].

The music of this legendary performer has been influential in folk and in popular music for decades. Many different artists have recorded songs Gordon Lightfoot wrote, including Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, John Mellencamp, Jim Croce, Bob Dylan, and many others. Dylan is a particularly outspoken fan, having once said that when he heard a Gordon Lightfoot song, he wished it would last forever [1].

Huge Hits in the 1970s

Although he has been a part of the scene for many years and still continues to be active, Gordon Lightfoot saw his commercial heyday during the 1970s. It was during this time period that his music was extremely commercially popular in spite of or perhaps because of its folksy sound. That time in music was characterized by names such as Dylan, Lennon, and many others utilizing the folk message in a more mainstream way to reach the popular masses, and during this time the message of Gordon Lightfoot also reached more than a few people as well. He had a number of hits that charted in the top five during this time period. "If You Could Read My Mind" was a number 1 smash in 1970. "Sundown" hit number 1 in 1974, as did "Carefree Highway". In 1975, "Rainy Day People" went to number 4 on the charts, and "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" hit number 2 in 1976 [1].

Over the years Gordon Lightfoot has become a voice of influence to a whole new generation of performers, and he continues to write and record music as well. He has amassed over 200 recordings in all over a long and storied career. He has won 16 Juno Awards in Canada and been nominated for several Grammy Awards in the U.S. [1] His career has had an interesting arc in recent years as Gordon Lightfoot worked in between bouts with illness to try to finish up old recordings and get through new ones. His creativity continues to inspire. He still reminds you of someone just trying to pay the bills and keep up with his import car insurance. He has had an amazing career with its length and the volume of collected recordings that he has amassed. Gordon Lightfoot is really a legend in folk and country music who continues to impress even today.

[1] Retrieved 2010-11-14.


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