The Passing Show

Famous Gordon Lightfoot song about a Rolls-Royce was never recorded

Written by Norris McDonald

We are a few weeks away from Christmas, which is good in one way ’cause ‘tis the season and not so good in the automotive and racing world because hardly anything is going on anywhere except in the Middle East, where there are still two Formula One Grands Prix on the calendar.

So I’m gong to write today about a national treasure, Gordon Lightfoot, who will wrap up a three-night stand marking the reopening of Massey Hall tonight. I promise, though, that there will be an automotive reference, or two, to make this column legal to appear in Wheels.

I first saw Lightfoot at the Mariposa Folk Festival in his hometown of Orillia, Ont. He was singing duets with his pal Terry Whelan and they were on a program with folk-music greats like Ian & Sylvia, Mary Jane and Winston Young, Ed McCurdy, Oscar  Brand, the Travelers and others.

I had a job on the Orillia Packet & Times, a daily that went out of business a few years ago, and in late spring or early summer of 1963 Lightfoot came into the office and I interviewed him. He was as class an act then as he is now: he’d been to music school in Los Angeles, went to the U.K. where he had a short-lived TV show, and was back in Canada appearing on CBC shows like Singalong Jubilee. He was starting to write songs and had great ambition.

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