Gordon Lightfoot: 'Ring Them Bells When Innocence Dies"

Maybe it was appropriate that the Don Juan behind us narrated his love life story to his much younger date during Gordon Lightfoot's concert at the Warner Theater in Torrington, Connecticut, last night. Ballads are a type of story, after all.....

He regaled this giggling girl with the titles and deeper meanings of the ballads on the charts at each romantic turning point in his life. She was better than the rest, but that there were so many to be better than should have told this child she was next in the deli line. I wanted to drive her home. Tell her to go to the ladies room and never come back. Tell him to shut up so she could enjoy the music before she realized what she had gotten herself into. But it was too funny. It was okay.

This balding stranger changed for me forever the associations I have with "Carefree Highway," which has become a theme song--and in some cases a goal--for me of late. Alas and oh well. It was a great night.

At 69 years old, Lightfoot remains a consummate entertainer. He began each set by picking up his guitar and singing--despite the decrepit hippies shouting for "Pony Man" or "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" or whistling or howling or shouting over who had what seat or reminding him of the roses they sent to him last time he was in Torrington. No anecdotes, no life story, no name-dropping. He just did what we wanted to do and sang and played on and on.

Though the Canadian balladeer's voice is not as strong as it once was, it is every bit as impassioned and moving. He knows his songs; he is his songs; he lives inside his music and he draws you in. Though you've heard his stuff over and over again for the past 40 years, you hang on to hear how it turns out. Somehow, it's always a little different. If the song ends in loneliness, you are not alone, you're inside that song with its creator.

Lightfoot sang "Ring Them Bells," which is among my 35 or so favorite Lightfoot songs. He--a survivor of many struggles--offered a balm at a difficult time. Gordon Lightfoot is a reminder of why we so desperately need poets and passion and love.

Ring them bells - for the blind and the deaf/Ring them bells - for all of us who are left/Ring them bells - for the chosen few/ Who will judge the many - when the game is through/Ring them bells - for the time that flies/For the child who cries - when innocence dies.

Gordon Lightfoot's website
Early Morning Rain
If You Could Read My Mind, Love
Edmund Fitzgerald


  1. That was an interesting review. Would have had the same feelings, best wishes, The Artist

  2. Wow, what an evening that must have been! Sorry that me and my date, Missy Jo, made so much noise behind you...

    Here's one of my favorite Gordon Lightfoots, with a younger Gordon singing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99rOzMVtcx4

    He is a true folk singing artist to me.

  3. Thanks for stopping by! I added the Edmund Fitzgerald to the blog post. I love that one, too. He sang that amazing ballad, too. The screamers were as thrilled as I was. And loverboy back there....

  4. Anonymous8:28 AM

    In perhaps the mellowest concert I've ever been to, and probably because he's 69, the audience was distracting and embarrassing.

    On this little 10-city tour Lightfoot is doing, I hate think about what he's going to say to the next crowd about hsi first Connecticut audience. Though as you point out, his business was playing, and maybe that's jsut what he'll continue to do.

    Still, I have to believe he might have played a little longer if it weren't for the rambunctious idiots who wouldn't keep their mouths shut.

    Nevertheless, Lightfoot's passion for his music and lyrics still came through, even if in a much softer manner than we're used to listening to.

    There wree still plenty of times to close your eyes and get lost in the music.

  5. Wow. I saw Gordon Lightfoot in Tahoe a few years ago and it was the worst concert I have ever been to. He seemed like he was sleep-walking and he actually snorted during a song. My friend and I just looked at each other, like, "Did he really just suck snot back up into his nose while he was singing that song?" Yup, he did. Right into the microphone. It was the most horribly unprofessional thing I've ever witnessed.

    I'm glad you enjoyed his concert. I would have preferred to just enjoy his records from the good ol' days.

  6. Oooh....I hope he didn't spit on the floor, too!

    I suppose our shining moment was when Lightfoot said he hadn't been in Torrington since 2001. An older woman shouted, "You were here last year; I gave you roses!" My goodness. We were waiting for these groupies to toss up their briefs onto the stage!


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