At 80 years old, Gordon Lightfoot has pretty much seen it all, done it all and lived to write about it. And he has no plans to stop.
“It is unreal when you really think about it. But it feels like it was just yesterday when I was first starting out,” he told Forbes Magazine.
On his “80 Years Strong” Tour, which comes to the Missouri Theater at 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 12, he celebrates his legacy and looks to the future.
The classic folk singer from Canada has had his songs covered by artists such as Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Elvis Presley and Barbra Streisand. He scored huge hits like “Sundown,” “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” and “If You Could Read My Mind.” He was named Bob Dylan’s favorite songwriter.
“I can’t think of any Gordon Lightfoot song I don’t like. Every time I hear a song of his, it’s like I wish it would last forever,” Dylan once said of Lightfoot.
If anyone’s worried that, after playing songs like “If You Could Read My Mind” thousands of times, Lightfoot might be tired of it, they shouldn’t.
“‘If You Could Read My Mind,’ for instance, feels different every time I play it. I don’t know why that is, but it’s just that kind of a song. It has a life of its own. Every time I play it the message comes through in a different way,” he told Forbes Magazine.
There will be a mixture of old and new tunes at the show, as Lightfoot said he like to keep things fresh.
“I do incorporate new stuff too. I go back and do research and find the ones that really, really work well with the crowd, with the audience, and I try and put some of those in. But also I don’t lose any of my standards. My standards are about maybe 15 tunes and about 26 tunes I do in a show,” he said to Forbes.
Lightfoot survived a near-fatal ruptured artery in the 2000s, which forced him to adopt an exercise routine and healthier lifestyle. While that was done to provide a longer life for Lightfoot, it was also to ensure he could perform and record his upcoming album, his first in 15 years.
“The one I’m working on right now, provided I don’t fall again or get sick again, I will be able to carry through and produce it in a highly professional manner. If I’m still walking around we’ll finish it,” he said to Billboard.
Performing live for more than six decades, Lightfoot has turned his show into a well-oiled, fine-tuned machine of classic songwriting.
“I do the same length of show each and every night. I don’t drag it out. I like to be courteous. I realize that there are people who have probably never heard me before who might have said, “Hey, come on down, check out Lightfoot with me.” And they’re usually quite impressed, I get the after effects on a lot of them,” he said to Billboard Magazine.
With such an expansive catalog, Lightfoot said people often are surprised at how deep it goes.
“We hear, ‘Gee, we were really surprised. We really enjoyed the show.’ And that sort of thing. ‘I didn’t know you wrote all those songs,’” he said to Billboard Magazine.
Tickets for the St. Joseph show range from $35 to $125 and are available by contacting the Civic Arena box office at 816-271-4717 or online at Ticketmaster.com.