An Early Interview with Gordon Lightfoot

Gordon Lightfoot's 'If You Could Read My Mind'
‘If You Could Read My Mind’ was Gordon Lightfoot’s new album at the time of our conversation.

I conducted this brief interview with Gordon Lightfoot on Dec. 5, 1970, right after his performance that night at the State University of New York at Albany (which I was attending at the time). It was published in the Albany Student Press three days later.

How long have you been playing?

I’m 31 now. I’ve been playing professionally for 12 years—since I was 19. But I got my first paying gig when I was 12, and made $5. Before I started writing, they were calling me a country singer. Now some people call me a folk singer. But I’m just a singer, you know?

Have you heard Bob Dylan’s version of your “Early Morning Rain”?

Yeah, I think it’s fantastic. I think the whole Self Portrait album is great, just fantastic.

Where are you from?

Ontario, home of Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen.


Bob Dylan. And Kris Kristofferson. Bob Gibson. Ian Tyson taught me a lot of what I know.

What differences do you notice between Canada and the U.S.?

Well, I wouldn’t want to trade places with an American now. And it’s too bad that Vietnam has been virtually forgotten.

How did you think the concert went tonight?

I thought the audience was just great. I was sort of running through song after song. I was trying to play as many songs as I could for the people in the time that I had.

Were you given a limited time for your set?

No, I just knew it had been a long night, and I wanted to play just enough and stop before the audience got tired. It was pretty late. But we were out there for a bit over an hour.

What projects are you currently involved in?

I don’t like to do television usually, but we’re taping a Johnny Cash show this week.

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