In 1975, Gordon Lightfoot invited Bob Dylan and the musicians of the Rolling Thunder Revue tour back to his house for a party, where Dylan recorded Lightfoot singing his Ballad in Plain D in a bedroom. On Wednesday, the Sundown singer and the enigmatic former Zimmerman share the city of Toronto again when the former plays Massey Hall and the latter hits the Air Canada Centre. We size up the two troubadour titans and long-time pals.
Bob Dylan plays Toronto’s Air Canada Centre on Nov. 14, and Montreal’s Bell Centre Nov. 16; Gordon Lightfoot plays Toronto’s Massey Hall Nov. 14 to 17.
LightfootNov. 17, 1938
DylanRobert Allen Zimmerman, May 24, 1941
LightfootCanada’s greatest singer-songwriter (still living in Canada), grew up in small-town Ontario before eventually moving to the bright lights of his country’s folk-music mecca in 1960 to pay rent, play coffee houses and seek fame in his chosen field.
DylanAmerica’s greatest singer-songwriter grew up in small-town Minnesota before eventually moving to the bright lights of his country’s folk-music mecca in 1961 to pay rent, play coffee houses and seek fame in his chosen field.
LightfootInsisted that his fellow icon Dylan induct him into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1986. Has said that Dylan “taught me how to write lyrics,” and his live set lists over the years have included covers of the man’s Ring Them Bells.
DylanIn 1985, wrote in the liner notes to his Biograph box set: “Gordon Lightfoot, every time I hear a song of his, it’s like I wish it would last forever.” (Lightfoot’s Canadian Railroad Trilogy, in fact, does last forever.)
1972 Mariposa Folk Festival
LightfootAttended as a guest, along with Neil Young, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell and Dylan. In a fascinating meditation on seventies oversized belt buckles, Lightfoot and Dylan are photographed together.
DylanAttended as a guest, along with Neil Young, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell and Lightfoot. In a fascinating meditation on seventies facial hair, Dylan and Lightfoot are photographed together.
Saturday Night Live
LightfootIn May, 1976, appeared in an episode hosted by Buck Henry. Lightfoot performs two songs but is unable to complete a third when John Belushi’s Samurai character cuts his guitar strings.
DylanIn October, 1976, possibly appeared in an episode hosted by Buck Henry. YouTube footage reveals a disguised Dylan-like man during the brief Audience Caption segment. It is strongly suspected that Dylan snuck into the studio to watch the musical guests, his friends the Band.
Death and rumours
LightfootIn 2002, suffers a ruptured abdominal aneurysm and endures a six-week coma. In 2010, a Twitter-based prank triggers a CanWest news service story reporting his ultimate sundown.
DylanAfter a motorcycle accident in 1966, rumours and gossip-mongering had Dylan somewhere between dead and suffering permanent damage.
LightfootSometimes yes, sometimes no, over a long and richly varied hirsute career. Lately, a thin ’stache is part of the grooming repertoire.
DylanSometimes yes, sometimes no, over a long and richly varied hirsute career. Lately, a thin ’stache is part of the grooming repertoire.
LightfootComposed The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, a waltzing commemoration to a famously sunken ship (the Edmund Fitzgerald). Stunningly rhymes “the big lake they call Gitche Gumee” with “the skies of November turn gloomy.”
DylanComposed Tempest, a waltzing commemoration to a famously sunken ship (the Titanic). Conflatingly references Titanic actor Leonardo DiCaprio (as “Leo”). Twice.