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3.93  ·  Rating details ·  463 ratings  ·  100 reviews
The definitive biography of Canada's most beloved singer-songwriter, a legendary musician who helped define the folk-pop era.

From the tender ballad of Beautiful to the historical lament of The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald to the plaintive political plea of Black Day in July, Gordon Lightfoot's songs have inspired and enchanted fans for more than fifty years. Beloved by a
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published September 26th 2017 by Viking
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was ok

Continuing my non fiction quest with a biography of a notable Canadian singer-songwriter. I grew up hearing a lot of Gordon Lightfoot 's music because my Mom was a big fan. After reading this bio, I told her what I learned and she stressed that she loved his music but that she had heard lots about his personality. IMHO, the guy really comes off as an asshole.

Nicholas Jennings spent a dozen years interviewing Lightfoot and the people closest to him. Much like his musical contemporaries -alcohol
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
During the time this Australian spent living in Canada, Gordon Lightfoot’s music became a big part of my mini education in all things “Canadian”. I somehow discovered this love for Gordon’s music with zero knowledge that my own Mum had seen him perform in Hobart back in 1974! Needless to say, I was then blown away when reading Nicholas Jennings’ Lightfoot, that this Hobart concert gets specific mention.

My home state of Tasmania being featured was worth the read alone, as I’d never encountered s
Review written: September 25, 2017
Star Rating: ★★★½☆
Heat Rating: N/A

An Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book was received free via Netgalley for an honest review.

From the first time I heard The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald on my local country radio station, I loved Lightfoot's music and voice. That's not to say I knew all his songs or that I followed him consistently. But I knew that I loved the stories he sang and I loved the melancholy voice that sang them. So it came as a great surp
Keith Chawgo
Sep 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Lightfoot is an interesting biography about an incredible singer/songwriter who is dealing with his own demons. Jennings has written a thought provoking biography behind the elusive artist.

At times, his life is quite idyllic but he seems somewhat removed from the populace. He found fame though he never really wanted fame. I guess to put it into simpler terms is that he has a gift that he wanted to share with the world but did not want the fame that came along with it. This seemed to be the catal
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. His songs really come from his giant heart and I am listening to them now concentrating on the words and knowing, in some cases, where he was in his life at the time of writing. Look at all the research he did on the “Edmund Fitzgerald” in order to properly honour those who were lost and their families. What a big heart and with a mind and heart like his, come the demons. An ordinary Jane like myself could never write songs or words like that. Brilliant. It really touched me.
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love this guy! I love 60's folk music. I had been looking for a complete bio on Lightfoot. So when I saw this book was coming out I pre-ordered a copy. I was not disappointed. Was he a perfect person? No. He had his faults. But his music is so honest and open. Be warned, at least half the book is about his music, so if you are not familiar with him you may find the book a little boring, but I enjoyed reading how my favorite songs came about. ...more
Sep 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most comprehensive and technically accurate biographies I have ever read. Over the course of 12 years in making, detailed research and regular interviews with Lightfoot, the author has created a wonderful account of Lightfoot's life from a well informed and unbiased perspective. The book is written such that his life experiences flow not only chronologically but in a story fashion so that we the readers can feel a strong personal bond to him and can understand how life has unf ...more
May 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A tale of music, loss, love, writing, and 60s/70s Toronto. Great read. I grew up listening to Gordon Lightfoot and when I saw this book I was immediately interested in reading it. I did not expect it to be such a page turner.

Found it hard to put this down once I started and I ended up putting on Songbook to listen to while I read. It was so interesting to read the stories behind Lightfoot's beautiful songs.

Oct 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I started listening to Gordon Lightfoot while I was in high school--gorgeous voice and loved the emotional impact of his songs. Later after my family moved to Madison, WI I had the opportunity to see him in concert a number of times and I pretty much went whenever he was in town so yes, I am a fan. Enjoyed this book a lot, as there was so much I didn't know about him personally and about his music. If you are in to singer/songwriters I highly recommend both this book and his music. ...more
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wow - what a complex man. This was a very interesting book about an ordinary young Canadian who became an extraordinary singer/songwriter.

Nicholas Jennings has written about the artist that we admired and that man who was a sad and kind of lonely person. The insight into Gordon Lightfoot's life - his loves and his work - is fascinating.

I highly recommend this book.

Harold Walters
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
A GoodReads GiveAway

I picked up this book and sat down and read it. Simple as that. Reading it was like stepping back in time fifty years and then playing fast-forward to today with scraps of the soundtrack of life skipping along in the background.

Ah, memories, Gord b'y!
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
Loved this!! A must-read for any Lightfoot Lover! :)
Brian Smith - PLD
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
A must read for any fan of Gordon Lightfoot. A rare look behind the scenes of a true Canadian Legend. Well written.
Thomas Burchfield
Aug 08, 2018 rated it liked it
[More about the Lightfoot bio cam be found at my webpage, Thanks!]

Gordon Lightfoot is one of my favorite musicians in the world (and I got Bob Dylan backing me on that one, so neener neener to all you Lightfoot naysayers.) I can hum something from far deep in his huge catalog and people will ask, "That's a Gordon Lightfoot song, right?"

That said, Nicholas Jennings bio of the legendary songwriter is interesting and full of
Jan 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michael Emond
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
For someone (like me) who loves his music, Lightfoot was a wonderful treat. Gordon grew up in an era when a superstar could still hide from the spotlight so even though I grew up during the height of his fame I never really knew much about him. He never sought the spotlight so it never found him. I was never very curious about him, I loved his music and I didn't need to know his personal life. But when I saw this book I couldn't help but be drawn to it. I can't count the number of songs from him ...more
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I find the book well written, informative (learning the source of/meaning of songs), and interesting but I do wish that Nicholas Jennings had included the years that each chapter covered, along with the chapter title, and/or referenced the years more so in each chapter. I found myself constantly flipping backwards and forwards trying to figure out what year he was referring to. Phrases like or similar to: later that year, the following year, by year's end, the previous year......left me frustrat ...more
Bill Sleeman
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music-history

This was great, a full biography of one of my favorite musicians and story-tellers. I enjoyed the way that author Nicholas Jennings was able to get the notoriously reticent Lightfoot to participate in the process. While I was already familiar (as most fans are) of the competition between Lightfoot and Dylan the additional details on their various meetings was fascinating. Jennings has done a fine job of exposing Lightfoot’s well known difficulties without going all “Kitty Kelley” on his subject.

Debi Robertson
Dec 10, 2017 rated it liked it
I was one of those people who showed up at the Massey Hall concert every year for I don't know how long. This was an excellent record of the time and names of the music world and a very intimate portrait of the most exceptional singer in Canada, and still is to my mind. There was a lot in this book that I was aware of and even more that I wasn't. I have never been one of those fans who obsessed about him, more his music which touched my soul when a teacher played one of his records in a grade 9 ...more
Judy Odom
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Whether you are a fan or not (and how could you not be), Lightfoot is a fascinating book about the life of Gordon Lightfoot, his triumphs, his weakness, his kindness, and a career that is and has been outstanding.

You see another side of Gord, that is probably not quite true , as he is a very private and humble man, so really we have only seen the one side of him til now.

A great read and I book I will talk about it for a long time
Brett Yanta
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Lightfoot is very much the Canadian version of so many rock and folk legend biographies. It has the adultery and alcohol abuse you'd come to expect, but without the harrowing self-destruction of so many of his contemporaries. In the end, it's the story of a deeply flawed, but a remarkably talented and nice small-town boy made good. ...more
Gail Amendt
Jan 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I love Gordon Lightfoot, so I knew I was going to enjoy this book. His music is the soundtrack of my childhood as the radio was always on at our house, and his eloquently melancholy lyrics speak to my soul in a way that few other songs and artists do. I love his historical ballads and the reverence he has for Canadian history, and the way his songs cover so many different aspects of the human condition. Gordon Lightfoot shies away from publicity and rarely gives interviews, so this book was quit ...more
Emily Puccini
Sep 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Wow, where to begin.

Everybody has a Gordon Lightfoot song that speaks to them. I have loved Lightfoot's music for years - perhaps since my parents played "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" for my brother and I as we drove along the American coastline of Lake Superior. I could tell so many stories about my connection with his music, how it's shaped my musical tastes into what they are today, and how his songs have resonated with me at different points in my life.

But you are here for the review
Carolyn Harris
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I am a huge fan of Gordon Lightfoot's music and I enjoyed reading the stories behind the songs. I appreciated how Jennings not only wrote about the big hits such as "If You Could Read my Mind" and "Sundown" but also examined the more obscure classics such as "Marie Christine" or "Sixteen Miles to Seven Lakes" and unreleased tunes as well. The history of the Toronto music scene in the 1950s and 1960s was also very engaging. Nice to know that the Queen also enjoys Lightfoot's music and praised "Ca ...more
Oct 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: music-music-bio
by Nicholas Jennings
3.8 / 5.0

Exhaustive and definitive, this bio took 12 years of research and interviews. It gives a comprehensive look at Gordon Lightfoots career, his life, his lives and his demons.
Packed with great photos, this would be a perfect gift for any fan or person interested in his life.
Highly recommended.
Feb 11, 2019 rated it liked it
While somewhat entertaining and an easy read, there wasn't a whole lot of meat. It felt like a long magazine article. Interesting enough if you are a fan, but I wouldn't read it otherwise. ...more
Ken Brown
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An excellent and informative biography about a great artist.
Melissa T
*I won a copy of this book from a Goodreads Giveaway*

Given that I moved to Canada about 18 months ago, I saw the giveaway for this and figured I should read up on one of Canada's most iconic music legends.

The book was interesting, but the first half was way too slow. And repetitive. It goes through the 60's and 70's in the same fashion, recounting Gordon's music successes, the number of records sold, concerts played etc. It also makes Lightfoot out to be a bit of an asshole. It's contrasted nic
Eric Olson
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
Basically a rewrite of his life story. Few quotes or details from Gordon himself.
Feb 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Audio version, narrated by the author.

This is a straightforward biography, written - and narrated - simply and plainly. Jennings is serviceable as a narrator but is somewhat monotone-ish in his delivery. He gets a bit more expressive towards the end but by then I was used to it.

The reader won't find any salacious bits of information about Lightfoot, nor are there scandalous secrets uncovered. The life of Lightfoot is that of many musicians who found fame in the 1960s and 70s. Lots of alcohol, p
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