I attended my first concert in 1977. It was at Olympia Stadium in Detroit, where the Red Wings played before moving to Joe Louis Arena and again to Little Caesar Arena. Four singers/songwriters/guitarists performed: John Denver, James Taylor, Harry Chapin, and Gordon Lightfoot. Lightfoot's hit song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" released the prior year was still getting significant airplay and I loved seeing him live. Chapin and Denver are gone, but Lightfoot is still touring at the ripe old age of 82.
His touring was interrupted 17 months ago, but he kicked off a new tour Sunday evening at the Copernicus Center in Chicago.
I watched contentedly from the fourth row, remembering a night long ago when a high school David experienced this for the first time.
Many of the songs were the same. Lightfoot's peak of popularity occurred in the 1970s when he established himself as arguably the greatest songwriter in Canadian history.
The years have weakened Gordon's once-rich voice, but he can still carry a tune and he can still put emotion into songs that he has been singing for decades. More importantly, he engaged the audience between songs, joking about everything from his age to almost meeting Elvis Presley years ago (the crowd exiting the arena slowed him so much that Elvis had left the building by the time Gordon finally arrived backstage.)
The sold-out theatre was filled with many gray and balding heads, but they responded enthusiastically to the music of their youth. Lightfoot sang all his hits, including "Carefree Highway", "Sundown", "Early Morning Rain", "Rainy Day People", the aforementioned "Edmund Fitzgerald", and my personal favourite - "If You Could Read My Mind". In between, he mixed in many lesser-known songs, each one enjoyable.
He performed for about two hours with a 15-minute intermission and returned to the stage for one encore.
It was an evening well spent.
At this rate, I will be 103 and Gordon will be 126 when we next meet.