Gordon Lightfoot, one of Canada's best known musicians, is to be inducted into the American Songwriters Hall of Fame Thursday night in New York.
The hall of fame chose to honour Lightfoot as a singer who helped “define the folk-pop sound of the 1960s and 1970s.” A small group of artists are inducted into the hall annually to recognize their songwriting talent.
As he prepares for this latest honour, after a 50-year career that has included multiple Grammy nominations, 17 Juno Awards, and a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, Lightfoot is worried about what song will best represent his body of work.
“I'm thinking more about the work than I am the honour. Forget about the honour, forget about the event, I'm just thinking what am I going to do?” he told CBC News in a lighthearted interview in April.
Lightfoot is to be inducted alongside several American songwriters, including:
- Bob Seger, who penned songs like The Fire Down Below, Against the Wind and Rock and Roll Never Forgets.
- Don Schlitz, who wrote The Gambler for Kenny Rogers and Forever And Ever, Amen for Randy Travis.
- Jim Steinman, who wrote Total Eclipse of the Heart and Paradise by the Dashboard Light, as well as every song on Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell.
- Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones, musical theatre writers of Our Town and The Fantasticks.
Lightfoot considers his fellow nominees exalted company.
"The other four guys other than myself are Bob Seger whom I admire a great deal; went to see his show at Maple Leaf Gardens one time. Don Schlitz who wrote a lot of tunes for Kenny Rogers including The Gambler, Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones — remember that show The Fantasticks? — they wrote that show, longest running show in Broadway history. And Jim Steinman who wrote all of the songs for Meatloaf," he said.
In its citation, the hall of fame recalls Lightfoot songs such as Early Morning Rain, Sundown, If You Could Read My Mind, Carefree Highway, and Beautiful.
Lightfoot is already a member of the Canadian Songwriters Hall of fame, inducted in 2003, and his song If You Could Read My Mind Love, got a separate induction.
Now 73, Lightfoot was born in Orillia, Ont., and began writing songs while still a youth. Inspired by folk duo Ian & Sylvia, Lightfoot embraced the folk movement and became a mainstay of Toronto’s Yorkville scene in the 1960s.
By the early 1970s, he had achieved international renown as a singer-songwriter with songs like the Canadian Railroad Trilogy and The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Artists such as Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Olivia Newton-John and Barbara Streisand have covered Lightfoot songs.
Lightfoot is still touring, with dates in Ottawa, Kitchener, Sarnia and other Ontario cities coming up in June and four Toronto dates at Massey Hall booked for November.