1/2 We will be happy to discuss any of the issues in the voting booth if elected but … for now we’ll take this opportunity to discuss Gordon Lightfoot. pic.twitter.com/SWRlY55yyG — Tory Meehan (@ToryMeehanTV) September 18, 2017
His voice is a mantra. His lyrics are fairy tales. His music has lasted nearly five decades, and on Tuesday, Toronto’s iconic Massey Hall will reopen after a $50 million, two-year renovation.
While it was built in 1967, the building — a fixture of Canadian cultural life since 1931 — needed a face-lift to pay homage to its multicultural heritage.
In June 2016, Lightfoot learned he was being inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. That was followed by a meeting with the band he played for decades, the mighty Toronto Rifles.
“They stood right behind me at the mic and we talked together,” Lightfoot said. “I made a point of thanking them, even though I’m pretty sure they’d wanted to say thank you to me all along.
“People forget that these guys have been an integral part of the Toronto music scene for so long. If my induction hadn’t happened, they would have been at Massey Hall to see their last opportunity to stand next to me in this town as an adult.”
He insists that a lack of funding isn’t stopping him from touring — that it’s not even on his mind.
“I’m very financially secure, the old man, but I just can’t let others guide me anymore,” he said. “As long as I keep my fingers crossed and my sharp pencil sharpened, and never let on that I’m going anywhere or that I don’t want to be here any more, I’ll do just fine.”
Lightfoot said it’s not that he isn’t pushing for more financial backing for Canadian artists.
“There’s always a lot of rumors flying around — isn’t this being paid for with higher taxes? Isn’t that being paid with another tax? — but there’s simply not enough,” he said. “I mean, how do we get new musicians into this town? How do we get young people to record music?
“Everybody talks about the golden age of Canadian musicians — it was really funny,” he added. “You were young and unknown and you’d get invited to radio station dinners or something and you’d think, ‘wow, I’m in this old world. It’s as fine as fine gets.’
“But boy, then somebody would sit there and be like, ‘oh, let’s not be too generous,'” he said. “It’s kind of funny.”
He says fellow Canadian Luke Doucet has a good chance of becoming the country’s next great songwriter.
“Luke and his brother have got wonderful voices and he’s written songs that are so gorgeous,” he said. “We need new music in this town and we really haven’t had it for years.”
But while Toronto has its rich musical heritage, Lightfoot is determined that the city keeps producing its own iconic songs.
“I know that we’re in a little bit of a dark spot here in Toronto, but we’re going to put a spotlight on it again with the concert in September at Massey Hall,” he said. “And if you’re going to sit down and listen to a great song, I’d think if it’s a good one, it’s going to be in Toronto.”
Follow Cassandra Garrison on Twitter: @CassieAtFOXNews