Canadian folk music icon Gordon Lightfoot, whose evocative and poetic songs are etched into the musical landscape of Canada, has died at the age of 84, at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, according to his longtime publicist Victoria Lord.
Born in Orillia, Ont., Lightfoot was hailed as Canada’s folk troubadour for his soulful music and stirring lyrics. In songs such as The Canadian Railroad Trilogy and The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, he explored the country’s history, geography and culture.
“He is our poet laureate, he is our iconic singer-songwriter,” said Rush singer Geddy Lee in the 2019 documentary Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind.
Gordon Lightfoot, Canadian Folk Rock Troubadour, Dead at 84
GORDON LIGHTFOOT — a genius-level Canadian singer/songwriter whose most enduring works include “If You Could Read My Mind,” “Sundown,” “Carefree Highway,” “Early Morning Rain,” and “Rainy Day People” — died on Monday, the CBC confirmed. He was 84.
Lightfoot’s deceptively simple songs, which fused folk with pop and country rock, have been covered by everyone from Bob Dylan and Neil Young to Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, the Grateful Dead, and Barbra Streisand, Jerry Lee Lewis, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Buffett, and the Replacements.
He scored a series of hits in his native Canada throughout the Sixties, but most Americans first heard his work in 1970 when “If You Could Read My Mind” reached Number Five on the Hot 100. The deeply personal song chronicles the agonizing breakdown of his marriage, casting much of the blame on himself. “I never thought I could act this way,” he wrote. “And I’ve got to say that I just don’t get it/I don’t know where we went wrong/But the feeling’s gone and I just can’t get it back.”