Letter to Gordon Lightfoot, No. 8

Hey Gord, how’s it going? You might remember me, but maybe not. It doesn’t matter. A few years ago, I wrote a book about you. It was called ‘Writing Gordon Lightfoot,’ and in it there were seven letters in which I asked about your life, your songs, Canada, hockey, highschool, pot and booze, and music; lots of music. I’m a musician, too, and in the book I talked about music as a way of, I dunno, appealing to you; appealing for an audience with you, which I’ve never had (that was also a thrust of the book). A few years after it came out (oh, by the way, the book was nominated for a Toronto Book Award. It lost though) I was supposed to meet you– the folks at Mariposa tried to set this up– but you never showed. It wasn’t because you were mad at me or anything–  at least I don’t think it was– but your daughter was going to play the festival, and, in the end, she did not. I was nervous to meet you and maybe a little relieved that it never happened. I guess this is part of it: me and you never meeting or talking, although, to be truthful, we did talk once, in Quebec City, at Rendez Vous 87. I asked you how the show was the night before and you said, “Well, ‘Early Morning Rain’ was a little fast.” This is true. This happened. But like every other thing that happens, it’s gone now and it’s just a story. But here I am telling it again, which probably shows you how important it was to me. There were other times when we almost ran into each other. Once, at a restaurant, someone said, “Holy crap, Lightfoot was just here!” and another time, during your tribute at Hugh’s Room, I was away in another country (I’m always away for this). And this weekend for the JUNOS, I won’t be around either, even though you probably will be. I’m not sure I’d go to the JUNOS anyway (I have a funny thing about them, even though some of my friends are involved setting it up– good friends– and I always feel a little like a jerk when I call out the event for being so stale and narrow and tight, although the events around the event are always good). It’s my son’s birthday weekend– a big weekend, as you can imagine– and, besides, I have hockey (twice) and Sunday is dinner at my folks and all of that. I also have writing to do, writing like this: a blog about 45s. I started this blog because I’m writing less for the newspaper– long story, and not too interesting– and I wanted to just try and write every day partly because I love writing– also, I need it, like air– and partly because I wanted to prove to myself that I can. I’m writing here to tell you about a 45 of yours that I’ve been playing called ‘Carefree Highway.’ Gord, it sounds great on 45. When it’s playing– when that sweeping bass comes in with the grandeur of the strings and the acoustic guitars are chiming away– there’s that neat trick where i find myself asking how such a giant sound can be coming out of such a small thing. It’s a heavy sound even though only a few of the instruments are electric, and that’s another thing that’s always amazed me about you and your music: how the power and weight is often communicated without slathering the sound in fuzz and peaked mastering and thundering echo. After writing the book, I discovered tons I didn’t know about your music– and you– and it’s funny how that works (it happens after pretty much every book I write). Maybe I’ll write a sequel or something– actually, I’m pretty sure I’ll never write a sequel– and maybe you’ll read that one (which, again, I probably won’t write). I know that you have a copy of the book because a friend, a journalist, saw it in your house, on your coffee table. I wonder if you’ve touched it or opened it or even read it (I think your girlfriend has read it. Is that right?) It doesn’t matter, not really. I’ll keep writing and you’ll keep playing: 70 dates a year. That’s amazing. We should all be so lucky to do what we love until we can love no more.

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