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Publisher's Summary

Shortlisted for the 2017 Legislative Assembly of Ontario Speaker's Book Award

Nominated for the 2018 Heritage Toronto Award - Historical Writing: Book

The definitive, full-access story of the life and songs of Canada's legendary troubadour

Gordon Lightfoot’s name is synonymous with timeless songs about trains and shipwrecks, rivers and highways, lovers and loneliness. His music defined the folk-pop sound of the 1960s and ‘70s, topped charts and sold millions. He is unquestionably Canada’s greatest songwriter, and an international star who has performed on the world’s biggest stages.While Lightfoot’s songs are well known, the man behind them is elusive. He’s never allowed his life to be chronicled in a book - until now.

Biographer Nick Jennings has had unprecedented access to the notoriously reticent musician. 

Lightfoot takes us deep inside the artist’s world, from his idyllic childhood in Orillia, the wild '60s, and his canoe trips into Canada’s North to his heady times atop the music world. Jennings explores the toll that success took on his personal life - including his troubled relationships, his battle with alcohol and his near-death experiences - and the extraordinary drive and tenacity that pulled him through it all.

Rich in voices from fellow musicians, close friends, Lightfoot’s family and the singer’s own reminiscences, the biography tells the stories behind some of his best-known love songs, including “Beautiful” and “Song for a Winter’s Night,” as well as the infidelity and divorce that resulted in classics like “Sundown” and “If You Could Read My Mind.” 

Kris Kristofferson has called Lightfoot’s songs “some of the most beautiful and lasting music of our time.” 

Lightfoot is an unforgettable portrait of a treasured singer-songwriter, an artist whose work has been covered by everyone from Joni Mitchell, Barbra Streisand and Nico to Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, and Gord Downie. Revealing and insightful, Lightfoot is both an inspiring story of redemption and an exhilarating audiobook.

©2017 Nicholas Jennings (P)2017 Penguin Random House Canada

What the critics say

“Perhaps the greatest gift of...Lightfoot is that [it leads] you right back to [his] music. Feels like you never left, only better.” (Maclean’s)

“Jennings as always is a master storyteller... His deft manipulation of narrative, told in clear language, draws the reader in immediately...Jennings’s true gift might be his ability to slowly reveal Lightfoot to us - over the course of the book, the complexity of his character emerges, through a peeling away of the many layers the notoriously reticent singer has kept hidden. . . the best reward for Lightfoot fans who have waited for so long: Lightfoot is your chance to finally know him deeply.” (National Post)

“This is the definitive book on Gordon Lightfoot's life and lengthy career.” (FYI Music News)

“an informative, highly readable book...Lightfoot fans should rejoice.” (The Globe and Mail)

What listeners say about Lightfoot

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enjoyable and interesting

Book was well written and read. Overall an enjoyable experience, especially if you're a Canadian.

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Canadiana

A must read for all Canadian music lovers. A well written story about a true Canadian icon. Makes you feel proud to be Canadian.

2 people found this helpful

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Gordon Lightfoot is a Canadian treasure

This give the listener great insights into this living legend and tells his story from growing up in the town of Orilla to being one of the greatest artists in Canada. A great book

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent

I could not stop listening and singing the songs in my head when lyrics were quoted.

1 person found this helpful

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Excellent bio of Lightfoot

The reader is clear and easy to listen to and the story arc is clear with a fascinating biography of Canada”s most famous singer songwriter

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Skilled, respectful, authentic, evocative

Had Nicholas Jennings been more than a toddler when my 19 year old self was dispatched by Radio Loyola Folk Division ( me and a guy named Norris who knew how to work the P/A system and the turn table) to interview Gordon Lightfoot backstage in Montreal in 1967, he could have warned me that contrary to all my illusions about the soul of the sensitive broody genius, I was about to walk into a buzz saw.

I entered the smallish room nervously, questions and tape recorder primed. It wasn't a large group but Lightfoot was clearly the center. I was dumbstruck. I made my way over and stood. I don't recall much beyond his staring, shrugging, sidebar exchanges and clicking noises into my mic culminating in a dismissive "thanks" or something of that nature.. I am not even sure if I got anything . I slinked off into the street, renouncing music journalism forever as a career . I have to say that after this book, I feel better about the experience knowing that for a moment I was in the same league as Peter Gzowski.

I doubt that music journalism suffered much from my abrupt departure. I am however, grateful that toddler Nicholas stuck it out to become a fine writer and pretty decent narrator filling in the picture of the man whose work has formed the poetry and the soundtrack to so many of our lives. Intertwining the narrative with lyrics demonstrates the depth of his knowledge and understanding of his subject. I had forgotten so much and there was a lot I didn't know .I found myself running back and forth between the narrative and Spotify , making additions to my Lightfoot playlist.

Lightfoot is complex. The business is complex. There are not a lot of warm fuzzy people in this book. . Jennings tells the story honestly and doesn't judge. The narrative is broad and he doesn't dwell. Well...maybe a bit. He is a music guy and he lovingly examines the great pieces but calls out the bad. At the end of it all, the story comes down to the music. A gift.



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  • Lydjahh
  • 2020-12-19

Insightful!

I needed this book but didn’t know it. I’m a “Light Head” from way back starting about 1970 when I was 16. My Dad loved folk music and that love was carried on to me. Whenever I was feeling down about a thing I listened to Gord. He sorted me then and still does. His life is interesting with a few twists and aha moments. Some stories and anecdotes are repeated, but in appropriate places. Gord literally saved my life at least once. Great job with this book! And thank you!

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  • Chad Torbet
  • 2020-07-24

Finally!

This book has been out for a few years now, and it should be heralded as a treasure! Gord has always been known as highly private and guarded about his life and this book gives wonderful insights into this legends life. The book is so freaking enjoyable, it makes you wish you were born in Orillia!

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  • howard bascom
  • 2019-07-22

If you like Gordon Lightfoot.Read this

It fills in the backstory behind the songs and helps you understand what a man of substance Gordon Lightfoot is.

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  • Revolver66
  • 2021-04-17

Excellent

Nice honest story, For hard core Lightfoot fans. I recommend this book for all ages

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  • J Worthen
  • 2020-04-25

Wow!

Fantastic insight to one of my all time favorites! My older sibs raised me on Gordon and this book helped me to really get to know the man through his music

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  • RDale40
  • 2019-01-24

Lightfoot!

History of a great in the world of music. A living legend, and my favorite artist!

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  • Just Curious
  • 2021-12-20

Interesting Life Story of a Musical Professional

Very well told story. I am familiar with a few of the songs Mr. Lightfoot wrote because most of them are still playing somewhere. If You Could Read My Mind I have heard many times at many places. He writes classics that do not age. Very interesting background. A serious professional from an early age. Very admirable legacy. Now I will explore his other music I have read about in the book.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2021-02-14

A Legend in His Own Time!

Now I know why he survived the aortic aneurysm and my dad didn't. Great Bio!