A few words in praise of Gordon Lightfoot


Gordon Lightfoot performs at BergenPAC in Englewood, Aug. 8.

“I can’t think of any Gordon Lightfoot song I don’t like. Everytime I hear a song of his, it’s like I wish it would last forever.” — Bob Dylan

“It’s just like that’s what should be in a dictionary, you know, next to a really good contemporary folk song, is a Gordon Lightfoot song.” — John Prine

People who go to a lot of concerts — and I know there are a lot of them among NJArts.net readers — will recognize this phenomenon. There’s an artist you’ve always liked, but you’ve just never managed to see. Not for any particular reason: It just never happened. And then, finally, you get the chance.

I’ve been a fan of Gordon Lightfoot since the ’70s. Not a huge, know-every-word-to-every-song kind of fan, but a big fan, nevertheless. And in almost 40 years of frequent concert-going, and more than 30 years of professional reviewing, I’ve never seen him live.

And that’s kind of ridiculous, given that he seems to be on the road pretty much all the time. Even now, at 78.

But I’m going to see him Aug. 8 at BergenPAC in Englewood. I just saw it on the schedule and felt, strongly, “No, you’re not going to miss him again, this time.”

So the point of this post is just to say, I’m very happy that Gordon Lightfoot is still on the road, and that there are places like BergenPAC that give people like him an opportunity to perform in New Jersey, and that I’m going to be able to see him. Finally.

I’m really looking forward to this show. Just thinking about it makes me feel, in some small way, like being a teenager again, listening to the Sundown album over and over. Not just the megahit title track but “Carefree Highway” and “The Watchman’s Gone” and “Circle of Steel” and “The List” — songs that are embedded into my mind just as deeply as just about any music of that era.

So I just wanted to share that, and to say I’d be interested in hearing from you: Are there any musicians you have always wanted to see in concert, but keep missing for one reason or another? Or have you had any memorable experiences seeing someone in concert for the first time after being a fan for many years? Please let me know in the comments section below.


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Don Weisman August 3, 2017 - 7:25 pm

I was always a fan of Smokey Robinson’s, but had never seen him perform until two years ago. I was visiting my mom in Florida and looking for activities to do with her. In searching the internet I saw that Smokey was performing at the Kravis Center in Palm Beach. It’s a given that Smokey’s songbook is as good as any writer’s, but I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as his performance because of his age. He surprised me with an excellent show. He still maintains a strong voice, and who can argue with a greatest hits show consisting of all the Motown classics he wrote both for himself and for other Motown stars. Glad I saw him while I could.

Sanford Josephson August 4, 2017 - 12:51 pm

Saw him at Carnegie Hall in the early ’70s.


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