Harmony Light and

Karla Hayward
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After a health scare that cut short his 2002 tour, Gordon Lightfoot gets to stretch his Atlantic legs

In 2002, our entire country held its collective breath. Beloved musical legend Gordon Lightfoot seemed on death's doorstep, felled by a serious illness while touring - just before his Atlantic Canada leg, in fact. Almost five years later, after three subsequent relapses and recoveries, Lightfoot is - according to him - as good as new.

"I'm doing fine, absolutely fine," he says in a voice that's perhaps just a touch less hearty then before his illness.

Gordon Lightfoot

In 2002, our entire country held its collective breath. Beloved musical legend Gordon Lightfoot seemed on death's doorstep, felled by a serious illness while touring - just before his Atlantic Canada leg, in fact. Almost five years later, after three subsequent relapses and recoveries, Lightfoot is - according to him - as good as new.

"I'm doing fine, absolutely fine," he says in a voice that's perhaps just a touch less hearty then before his illness.

During his recovery, Lightfoot was unable to perform live. But that didn't stop him from making music. Using tracks he'd laid down on his own before his illness, Lightfoot began building his latest album - Harmony.

"That was good. It took my mind off my condition. I just thought about the music. It was about two years more before I thought about getting back on stage, but even then I was doubtful. But then, I started rehearsing."

The music helped him heal, "Oh yes, of course. Absolutely. And I know I had a lot of healing prayers from a lot of people - which were very much appreciated."

In his more than 40 years of performing, Lightfoot's won 15 Juno Awards and been nominated for five Grammys. He is a Canadian Music Hall of Famer and a Canadian Country Music Hall of Famer. In 2004, he was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Today, Lightfoot's back on the road, performing for packed houses and fans who are perhaps more enthusiastic than ever, excited to see what they'd once feared lost. "We're getting a great response. And we're getting pretty much sold-out (crowds). We've just got to feel it out and see how far it can take us, 'cause I'm quite capable of doing 50 or 60 shows a year."

Though a true superstar on the global music scene, Lightfoot's always modest and rather un-star-like. Being a demanding celeb has never really occurred to him, it seems.

"My personal life is very much the same as anyone else's ... My dad always told me when I was making it as a boy soprano, 'Don't let it go to your head.' And I listened to him. But it never would have gone to my head anyway because I was a farm boy and I just didn't have it in me," he says.

"Or," he continues half-laughing, "maybe it's there and I just don't know it. Maybe I'm the most arrogant son of a gun. ... But I don't care what they think. I just want to do a good job and be a good person."

Lightfoot's a perfectionist. He practises, plans his set lists weeks in advance, gets to his venues early to tune his instruments and warm up. He and his band are constantly striving - and succeeding - at making the show ever better. He promises an exciting show. "I'm really concentrating on the tour - we're perfecting our stage presentation. It's never, never perfected, I assure you ... We will give it full blast. We always work full of energy."

That's the approach he plans to take with his career as long as he can, "As long as I continue to rise to the occasion, as I am doing, with the kind of energy that I can put out there, I'll continue (making music and touring).

Tuesday's show isn't Lightfoot's first time in Newfoundland; he played here for the first time about 40 years ago. Working for the Canadian government at the time, he did shows in a number of smaller communities including some on the Burin Peninsula.

He seems genuinely pleased to get back to our bit of the world. "We're going to have a wonderful time being in Atlantic Canada for a whole week. I really was disappointed when we had to cancel back in October of 2002. I'm glad it came back into the picture, because at one point I wasn't sure I'd ever make it back down there. Now it's only a week off and I'm really getting excited about it.

Gordon Lightfoot plays Mile One Centre Tuesday. Tickets are $55.00, tax included, plus surcharge and can be purchased at the Mile One Box Office (709) 576-7657, 1 800 361-4595 or www.mileonecentre.com.

telyarts@yahoo.ca

Organizations: Box Office

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada, Newfoundland

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