Published May 03, 2012It's been eight years since Gordon Lightfoot released an album, and even then the basic tracks for 2004's Harmony had been laid down prior to the Canadian folk icon's near-fatal emergency abdominal surgery in 2002. Since recovering, Lightfoot admits that he no longer has the creative drive he once had, but that has not prevented him from fully overseeing the production of his newly released album, All Live.
Composed of recordings made at Toronto's Massey Hall between 1998 and 2001, Lightfoot tells Exclaim! that he limited his selections to pre-surgery performances because after that he felt some of the timbre of his voice was lost.
"When I recovered, we finished the album Harmony, and then the idea came up of making a live album out of all of these tapes that had accumulated over the years," Lightfoot says. "I didn't want it to turn out to be a posthumous album, so I took a long time going through everything myself and picking out the best performances."
As might be expected, All Live contains many of Lightfoot's best-known songs, such as "Sundown," "If You Could Read My Mind" and "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," but many overlooked gems like "Baby Step Back," "Shadows" and "A Painter Passing Through" are also represented.
Perhaps most importantly, the album brings Lightfoot's ongoing relationship with Massey Hall up to date, one that was first captured on record with his 1969 album Sunday Concert. He has now played over 150 shows there since his first in 1965, and has his next run of shows slated for November. Lightfoot says he is honoured to be so closely associated with the venue, and that for many years now his Massey Hall shows have been more than concerts.
"It became almost like a family reunion with all of these people getting together, and enjoying themselves a great deal," Lightfoot says. "Doing the meet-and-greets afterward have become just as much a part of the show, and I honestly do appreciate it whenever somebody has something nice to say about what we do. We love the work, and even if I might feel a little tired, I always look forward to the show. It's in my blood."
For Gordon Lightfoot's upcoming tour dates, check here, and read Exclaim!'s newly published Where I Play feature on the musician here.