Gordon Lightfoot, Guitars and Songwriting
Without a doubt, Gordon Lightfoot is one of the greatest songwriters of popular music from the America's in this century. I say "Americas" because Mr. Gordon Lightfoot is Canadian. Were I to simply say that he was one of the greatest Canadian songwriters of this century, then that would be such a large understatement of the facts concerning popular opinion that it would be a simple "given." The facts are that most Canadians consider Gordon Lightfoot as their beautiful nation's Greatest Songwriter.
Now maybe you don't realize just how great a songwriter Gordon Lightfoot actually is, and if you don't, then it's probably because you don't realize that the term "songwriter" means not that you even sing or perform the songs that you write - but that you also write songs that other artist like so well that they perform them.
From Wikipedia, here's the list of some of the most notable persons to have recorded songs written by Gordon Lightfoot:
Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Jr., The Kingston Trio, Marty Robbins, George Hamilton IV, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Barbra Streisand, Johnny Mathis, Viola Wills, Richie Havens, The Dandy Warhols, Harry Belafonte, Tony Rice, Sandy Denny (withFotheringay), The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, Scott Walker, Sarah McLachlan, John Mellencamp, Toby Keith, Peter, Paul and Mary, Glen Campbell, Anne Murray, and Olivia Newton-John.
Let me tell you something, friends, many people consider Bob Dylan as the greatest songwriter of all time - so what does it say about Gordon Lightfoot when Bob Dylan has recorded songs that Gordon Lightfoot wrote?
Gordon Lightfoot - The "Sundown" Album Cover - With His Gibson B-45-12N Guitar
In September I went with my parents about seventy miles from home to take my brother and his wife out for my brother's birthday. I forget the name of the station but there is a fine oldies station in Smith County, Texas - and after the dinner and several microbrews at a restaurant, I was riding shotgun as my Father drove us home. My parents do not drink—but I was feeling swell, and on the radio, a song was playing that I started singing along to. My Father asked me,
Who sings that song?
Now, my Dad asking me who sang something that I consider an "oldie" is unusual, so I proudly answered,
Gordon Lightfoot, it's called "Sundown."
Well, I live in a travel trailer on my parent's property close to their house, and not two or three days had passed before my Father came home on his lunch break, and in his driveway he was practically jamming out to that fine old Gordon Lightfoot tune - I knew he'd purchased a compact disc!
SUNDOWN—Gordon Lightfoot, and his Gibson B - 45-12N
Gordon Lightfoot and His Martin D 18
Music By Gordon Lightfoot Available On Amazon.com!
Gordon Lightfoot—Folk, Country, and Acoustic Guitars
Now, it's not something the least bit odd to me when I consider virtually all of the greatest American, Canadian, or North American and English-speaking songwriters to be persons who've mostly always played folk music. I'm talking about folks like Gordon Lightfoot, Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Steve Earl, Paul Simon, Kris Kristofferson, Townes Van Zandt, and the others that you will please and thank you - forgive me for not mentioning in this paragraph.
Why do you suppose that this is? Well, I don't think that it truly has much to do with acoustic instrumentation - but believe you me—folk music is most often acoustic, but it doesn't have to be acoustic to be folk. It's simply that folk music is always something that encompasses styles from various diverse cultures in such a time-honored and traditional way that folk music, though not always popular, is something nearly universally approved—except, of course, by fad loving and vacuous mainstream media.
Folk music is closely related to most other forms of music in some ways - and what is folk music in North America is most often a conglomeration of styles from various and sundry European nations, and well, practically every nation on the planet. As English is most definitely the dominant language here—so do English speaking persons have the greatest influence on Folk music—that's just they way that language dominates all aspects of any given culture.
So Gordon Lightfoot is a folk artist, singer, songwriter, and musician, and the only way to be or become a folk artist is to create work that embodies themes that are virtually timeless, and universally recognized. I don't really want to be the guy that just put's Mr. Gordon Lightfoot's most well-known hits on a piece about him, but who can ever deny that "Mother Nature's" whims and fancy are NOT universal concepts in folk music? The wrath and fury of nature is so vastly beautiful and yet sometimes violent - that there's surely not a sentient human that can escape to a place within his or her mind that it can not enter.
The Wreck Of The Edmond Fitzgerald—Gordon Lightfoot
The Limited Edition Martin D 18 GL - Gordon Lightfoot.
Gordon Lightfoot and Acoustic Guitars
Plain and simple - this sub domain of Hubpages is most often Acoustic Guitar Central. Gordon Lightfoot has done more than his share of promotion and proliferation of the kind of music that I love, and so it's well to my favor to have such an artist to even talk about - Thank You, Gordon Lightfoot!
Now Mr. Gordon Lightfoot has most often been photographed and recorded playing one of two distinct models of acoustic guitar:
1. The 1967 Gibson B-45-12N—it's frustrating, but the only decent photograph of this instrument that I could find was that of Gordon Lightfoot and this very guitar from the album cover of his Sundown album. It's plain that he's also playing this Gibson twelve string guitar in the live youtube clip of Sundown that I've provided here. In the January 2000 issue of Acoustic Guitar Magazine, Lightfoot talks about this guitar and says it's the twelve string acoustic that just stays in tune the best. If having to tune a twelve string guitar would make you as annoyed as it would me, then that's something well worth looking into!
What is most notable about the Gibson B-45-12N is the way the strings are anchored to the top. It's very uncommon for a steel string flat top guitar to deviate from the standard bridge and bridge pins design of anchoring the strings. I've read that Gibson changed from the pictured (and in the video) version, which would be called a bridge and trapeze tailpiece, to bridge and bridge pins, and then some other even less used designs. What's the deal here?
Twelve string acoustic guitars are most often very fragile instruments - and those strings create a LOT of stress on a musical instrument that is mostly wood and glue.
2. The Martin D 18 - Any musician like Gordon Lightfoot will know that having different types of acoustic guitars provides you with more options for what's important in music—SOUND.
A lot of players find that the sound and even the feel of different guitars inspires them to create different kinds of music. Gordon Lightfoot does quite well to embrace the two most known and respected acoustic guitar manufacturers, C.F. Martin & Co., and Gibson—you really can't lose with either brand in their solid wood instruments.
So far as the Martin D 18GL is concerned - WOW! That guitar is beautiful, it's a limited edition model D 18, but differs from the standard D 18V in three ways, the back and sides of this instrument are quilted mahogany rather than "plain" mahogany, and you should be able to see the beauty of that from the first picture. The D 18GL features and Englemann spruce top rather than a Sitka spruce top, and then there is that beautiful abalone inlay that you see all around the rosette - which is the trim around the guitar's sound hole, and then there is Gordon Lightfoot's signature inlaid in abalone, and abalone inlay fret markers on the fretboard.
The Martin D 18GL was limited edition instrument that sold for $3,500.00 when produced—look for models of that guitar in great condition to have gone UP in price and/or value!
Finally, what most needs saying here is that Gordon Lightfoot is indeed a great singer, songwriter, and musician—but he does have a lead guitarist that plays the melodies and solos as Gordon plays rhythm and sings. That man is Terry Clements—who, as Gordon Lightfoot also does, plays primarily acoustic guitars - but also plays some fine electric guitars as well.
Sadly, Terry Clements passed away on February the 20th 2011.
Terry Clements and One Of His Martin D 18's
Terry Clements - Obit.
- Terry Clements, Lead Guitar Player for Gordon Lightfoot, Passes Away
Terry Clements, lead guitar player for Gordon Lightfoot for four decades, passed away on February 20th.