As readers of this blog know, Gordon Lightfoot is a honored member of my holy trinity of Canadian Music (Neil and Joni are the other members) so it was an easy choice to feature him in my second Yesterday and Today post.
My favorite Gordon song is probably Canadian Railroad Trilogy, an epic song that he wrote in just three days. It tells the story of the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway and was performed for the very first time on New Year’s Day in 1967 as part of Canada’s centennial celebration. To me this song is Canada!
Each of the three parts of the song has it’s own tempo. The first and third parts have a faster tempo and focus on the progress of the railroad across the continent. The middle part of the song slows to focus on the railroad workers (navies) that did the back breaking manual labor required to lay the tracks. I’ve always heard something else in the tempo changes. If you’ve ever ridden on a steam train, it’s doesn’t take too much imagination to hear the steam train in the tempo.
To kick things off tonight, here’s a great live performance of the song from 1972………
Over forty years after the 1972 performance, Gordon is still singing this great song. He’s older, the voice has changed over time, but the performance is no less amazing. Join with me in celebrating Gordon’s continuing ability to amaze and entertain us at the age of 75.