July 26, 2006
He's known for such 70s hits as "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," "Sundown" and "If You Could Read My Mind."
Canadian folk singer Gordon Lightfoot will take the stage at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center July 30.
Q. The WHBPAC is just one stop on your North American 2006 tour. How's it been going so far?
A. Well, I love performing live. I've been in the business for over 40 years and the thrill is still the same, it's just pure pleasure.
Q. Here's a quote from Jimmy Buffett about your music: "I've always been trying to write songs like Lightfoot. A song of mine like 'Come Monday' is a direct result of me trying to write a Gordon Lightfoot song."
A. Yeah, that's always nice to hear.
Q. You've been with the same band members since 1987: Terry Clements, Rick Haynes, Barry Keane and Mike Heffernan. That's a long association, in musical terms.
A. Yes, and they're great guys, really talented. We have keyboards, electric guitar, drums and 12 and 16 string guitars.
Q. "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" climbed to No. 2 on the Billboard charts in 1976. It was a huge hit for you. What stirred you to write a song about the tragedy?
A. Who would have thought it, right? A boating folk song! I read about the sinking in Newsweek. I did some research and decided I wanted to set the record straight about what happened. I wrote the song as a tribute to the men who lost their lives that night. It was a horrendous event.
Q. Speaking of horrendous . . . In 2002, on stage, you suffered a burst artery. After going through emergency surgery, you slipped into a coma for six weeks. Talk about brutal!
A. Yeah, I had an abdominal hemorrhage. It was rough, it really laid me low for a while. During the recovery, though, I kept writing and working on my album-in-progress.
Q. Name a few recent projects.
A. In 2004, the CD Harmony was released. That was my 20th record, and the band followed it up with a Canadian tour to support it in 2005.
Q. Some big names in the music biz have covered your songs, such as Elvis, Bob Dylan and Barbara Streisand.
A. Yes, it's interesting that folk songs appeal to such a span of performers.
Q. In what significant ways has the music business changed since the 60s and 70s?
A. So much! Production standards have really improved, for one. There are also just so many musical genres out there. Many more than when I started out. Hey, I'm a survivor of the folk coffeehouses in Toronto.
Q. The WHBPAC is a pretty intimate setting. There are a little over 400 seats. Do you like to play to small audiences?
A. The venue doesn't really matter to me. I just like to play my stuff live. Whether the audience is very large or small, the band has a lot of fun!
Q. One of your fans once pointed out, "No one can do Lightfoot like Lightfoot." True?
A. Makes sense to me.