When the legendary Gordon Lightfoot performs his folk/rock songs, the audience gets a mix of the old and the new.
“We go through the old repertoire,” Lightfoot said. “We’ve installed four or five ‘dark horse’ tunes in the show that people have probably never heard before.”
“These are ones from the catalog that people may recognize very vaguely,” he said, “but that’s exciting for them and we enjoy playing them too. We do about 26 songs in a show. Some of the songs are abbreviated, so we can get more songs in.”
Gordon Lightfoot will perform on Oct. 30 at the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet.
“There are about 10 standards that we must do every night,” the Canadian singer/songwriter continued. “Then we continually rotate a repertoire of about 40 songs. We vary that part from night to night. It’s difficult to get everything in when you are only playing for two hours. But that keeps the show fresh.”
The standards Lightfoot refers to are such 1970s hits as “If You Could Read My Mind,” “Sundown,” “Rainy Day People,” “Carefree Highway,” and a few others
“These are quality songs that cannot be missed,” he said.
One of those quality songs is “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” The song tells the story of S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald which left Superior, Wis., bound for Detroit on Nov. 10, 1975, and sank in Lake Superior. All 29 crew members aboard died.
“’The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald’ is my biggest hit and probably my favorite song,” said Lightfoot in a 2005 interview. “It is wonderful when done live. It’s a standard.”
In addition to writing, singing and performing his own songs, Lightfoot has found fortune in having his songs recorded and performed by other artists including: Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Jr., Marty Robbins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Judy Collins, Johnny Mathis, Anne Murray, Olivia Newton-John, Sarah McLachlan, Barbra Streisand, Harry Belafonte, Glen Campbell and Toby Keith, among others.
“I have never heard a cover recording I didn’t like,” Lightfoot said. “I am deeply honored when someone records my songs.”
Lightfoot said he and his four-piece band perform dozens of shows each year all over North America, and he has no immediate plans to retire.
“I really enjoy the work,” the 74-year-old performer said. “We play 60 or 70 dates a year, usually in five segments. This year we’re down in the states. Next year we’ll tour in Canada and play some U.S. dates.
“I get excited about a tour,” he continued. “I know exactly what I’m going to play, but there is a lot of stuff I can’t play. Otherwise we’d be out there for four hours.”