Gordon Lightfoot celebrates 50 years of making music

mrowland@modbee.comSeptember 26, 2013 

Gallo 2013 Gordon Lightfoot

Gordon Lightfoot, one of the many to perform in the 2013-14 season at the Gallo Center for the Arts in Modesto.

UNKNOWN — Gallo Center for the Arts

  • More information

    WHAT: Gordon Lightfoot

    WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Monday

    WHERE: Rogers Theater, Gallo Center for the Arts, 1000 I St., Modesto

    TICKETS: $25-$65

    CALL: (209) 338-2100

    ONLINE: www.galloarts.org

Depending on your age bracket, you either sang along to, had your parents sing you songs by or found your grandparents’ records of Gordon Lightfoot.

The 74-year-old singer-songwriter’s music remains timeless and endlessly hummable. The folk-rock legend brings his 50-year career repertoire to the Gallo Center for the Arts on Monday.

But don’t think just because Lightfoot is a longtime veteran of the music scene that he can’t appreciate what’s being put out by the kids today. Kids like Justin Bieber.

“The music of the young ones today is well produced. But it all starts with the songwriting. There are some good people out there. One of them is Justin Bieber. I listened to his album long before I knew we would both be invited to sing at the Grey Cup. I can’t find a single person who appreciates his music unless they are 14 or 15 years old, even though the quality is there. There are some great songs,” he told the United Church Observer this past May.

Lightfoot is certainly no stranger to great songs. With hits like “Early Morning Rain,” “If You Could Read My Mind,” “Carefree Highway,” “Sundown” and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” Lightfoot and his music were chart staples in the 1960s and ’70s. But his career started years earlier. The Canadian native began singing at an early age with his family and in high school taught himself to play folk guitar.

In 1966 he released his debut studio album, “Lightfoot!” His songs helped to define the folk-rock and pop sound of the era while turning into Top 40 hits. Lightfoot also was considered a songwriter’s songwriter; his music has been recorded by a slew of famous artists from Bob Dylan to Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash to Toby Keith and Barbra Streisand to Sarah McLachlan.

In June 2012, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame, where he was joined by fellow inductees Bob Seger, Don Schlitz, Harvey Schmidt, Tom Jones and Jim Steinman.

Over his career Lightfoot recorded 20 albums, earned five Grammy nominations and received the Companion of the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honor.

Lightfoot’s stop at the Gallo Center is part of his “50 Years on the Carefree Highway” tour. His show promises some of his greatest hits as well as deep cuts from his arsenal of more than 200 songs.

And even after 50 years on the road, performing still makes his day.

“I’ve always been a performer, and I’ve loved getting out in front of an audience,” he told the Sioux City Journal this month. “Playing it live is a lot more fun.”

Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at mrowland@modbee.com or (209) 578-2284. Follow her on Twitter @marijkerowland.

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