Surprises of 2017

Surprise BBT 22017 was not as surprising as the year before it, but there were expectations that were not met.

We said farewell to some great performers in 2017 including Tom Petty and Gord Downie. Here, once again, is a list from CNN – let’s hope that there will be no more to add before the end of the year; http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/16/world/gallery/people-we-lost-in-2017/index.html

Yep, #Canada150 was not like #Canada1967. The biggest event of the summer was not Canada Day but the invasion of a Dragon and Spider.

The Ottawa Senators were 1 goal away from Stanley Cup Finals in the spring but as 2017 ends they are far from a playoff spot.

Ministers Morneau, Sajjan, Hehr & Joly (and not in a good way).

Our Prime Minister was found to have broken ethics and conflict of interest rules.

The Ottawa Fury switched leagues and still did not make the playoffs.

The Ottawa Redblacks lost too many close games and could not repeat as Grey Cup Champs.

Doing some work in the Whip’s office is pretty exciting!

Work took me to 9 provinces, saw the East & West Coasts and I drove across the Confederation Bridge. What an experience talking to Canadians and Veterans across Canada.

The Calgary Stampeders lost the second Grey Cup in a row they should have won.

A new City of Champions? The Argos won the Grey Cup and Toronto FC won the MLS Cup. Both games had snow.

Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi broke more records on its opening weekend.

November 26, 2017, 36,000 people saw a snowy and cold Grey Cup game at TD Place;

December 19, 1917 6,000 people saw the inaugural NHL game between Montreal and Ottawa in Dey’s Arena. Almost 100 years later (December 16 2017) 34,000 people watched the NHL100 Classic outdoors between the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadians at the TD Place stadium in -11C weather.

I had high hopes for the new Gordon Lightfoot biography; those hopes were dashed with less Lightfoot than I thought.

Who can believe that the Beatles Channel on Sirius XM is what I mostly I listen to?

The Tragically Hip delivered again, the movie “Long Time Running” delivered all the emotion and music from last year Man Machine Poem Tour.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson is becoming a grumpy old man.

Support of the NDP continued to collapse in by-elections across Canada.

While considered the front-runner, Maxime Bernier didn’t have the steam to become Conservative Leader. That being said, Andrew Scheer is a breathe of fresh air as Leader of the Conservative Party.

Justin Trudeau is older than NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and CPC Leader Andrew Scheer.

Kathleen Wynne did not let all-time lows stop her from staying as Premier of Ontario

There is a revolving door at the White House with key staff coming and going. Somehow Donald J Trump is still here and did not fade away – not even a little.

This is my 200th #RedHeartBlueSign Post that I have written, really…200!

What surprised you in 2017? Please leave a comment with your top 3 surprises.

Finally, thank you for reading #RedheartBlueSign in 2017. With 65 posts, 1000+ visitors and over 1300 views again, it was another good year. I hope you’ll continue to read in ’18, with two elections coming there will be a lot to be seen. i

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

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My Best of 2017: The Best of #RedHeartBlueSign

 

This year I have written over 60 posts, this is post number 199 on #RedHeartBlueSign since October 2010.

thank youOver the past 12 months I can say I am happy with each post, though some I have greater pride in writing. The five posts below represent what gave me the greatest pride. Each has its own beginning, that being, what was the motivation for me to write and post each of them.  Thank you for taking the time today and throughout 2017 to read #RedHeartBlueSign.

The Battle for Vanier (November 2017)

The city of Ottawa had two big battles with its residents this year. The first was the relocation of the downtown/main branch of the Ottawa Public Library; the second was a proposal from the Salvation Army to vacate its Byward Market building for brand new building on Montreal Road in Vanier that would house almost all it services under one roof, include approximately 350 beds (some long term and some emergency shelter beds. The response from the community was SOS Vanier, a well coordinated effort of raising the community’s opposition to a plan that goes opposite of the city plans. The big battle was strictly a fight between building use and land use – two very different concepts.

This was my most widely read post of the year, if you haven’t already you can click here to read it: https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2017/11/26/the-battle-of-vanier-land-use-vs-building-use

Choose your healthcare cycle (September 2017)

The healthcare system in Ontario and across Canada is at a crossroads. Also at a critical point is the population of Canadians as the Baby Boomer Generation retires and the Boomers’ children and grandchildren are going to be relied upon to work and fund pension programs and healthcare needs for seniors. The point of the post was to emphasize the need for each generation to support the healthcare they need now, through fundraising, radio-thons and telethons and not necessarily the care that was used in the past. More and more provincial budgets will spend more on healthcare that all other departments combined. Hospitals and healthcare organizations count more on donations from the public to close the gaps left from reduced government funding.

My thoughts about this are here for you to read: https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2017/09/20/choose-your-healthcare-life-cycle

When did it become legal to do illegal things (October 2017)

The line between helping others and protecting property is a thin one and easily causes words and sometimes actions that have a ripple effect. At the heart of this post was the opinion that the City of Ottawa was not acting fast enough to help stop the opioid crisis and prevent needless deaths. What been approved was a safe injection site in Sandy Hill, but was not ready yet, so Opioid Prevention Ottawa (OPO) set up a tent without approval and permits in a neighbourhood park where children and families played – they refused to close up and not many in City Hall would force the closure including the Police who said they were waiting for the city to tell them to shut it down. I wanted to include the a bit about the illegal Pot Shops that are opening up ahead of the legalization of marijuana but if I had I would have had to leave too much out of the OPO story.

To read all about OPO and the fight for safe neighbourhood and the fight to save lives from overdose clink on this link: https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2017/10/09/when-did-it-become-legal-to-do-illegal-things

Confessions of a casual commuter cyclist (August 2017)

2017 was the summer that I became a cycling commuter, taking my bike to work almost everyday. I have to say I got my money’s worth in the spring tune-up. I wrote about my experiences on two wheels, observing not only other cyclists and pedestrians but also drivers of cars and trucks. I had one close call, but I transferred my defensive skills to my bike and stayed safe. I have to say though that cycling defensively is not as well received by other cyclists,

Read my Confessions of a casual commuter cyclist here: https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2017/08/16/confessions-of-a-casual-commuter-cyclist

836,484 (December 2017)

This post came about from big news on two fronts. First was that the Toronto Star and the National Post were ‘flipping ownership on a large number of small local newspapers and few free daily papers (Metro and 24 hours). The other show dropped when 40+ of these papers were being told that they were closing, a few on the same day that the announcement was made. The largest of the local papers affected was the Barrie Examiner, which has been in operation longer than the British North America Act has been in force. All told I estimated that almost 840,000 Canadians lost a newspaper in one day. Since the day the presses stopped, many independent local papers have spoken loudly to reinforce the fact that local newspapers are still printing and distributing news.

Read 836,484 here: https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2017/12/03/836484

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

My Best of 2017: Music

The end is coming, the end of 2017.   With it comes the best of what I have come across in 2017; the best of book; the best of my blog posts and today the best of music I have listened to.  What follows are some of the best discs of the year, according to my ears.

Michelle Branch – Hopeless Romantic

Hopeless RomanticThis is my album of the year!

From the opening refrain of ‘Best You Ever’ Hopeless Romantic signals the return of Michelle Branch. Her song writing has matured, the stronger songs are a result of years of collaborations while trying to come up with material her record company would stand behind.

Her sound has filled out and her vocals reflect the sensitivity of the material filled with the fragile emotion of a break up, ‘Fault Line’ is a great example of this. However when she breaks out the acoustic it is solid.

It was so good when it came out in April; Hopeless Romantic has not diminished at all in the past year. What was a summer album; Hopeless Romantic is a permanent go to for a good listen.

You can read my post on the return of Michelle Branch here: The Return of Michelle Branch

Beatles – Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band

IMG_20170601_1205497Okay, so it’s not new but it is still relevant. The 50th Anniversary of the Sgt. Pepper was like the return of an old friend. We all know the music, but the re-issue brought back the lore and history and my love of not only this Lp, but the entire Beatles catalogue (something that still baffles Liz).

George Martin oversaw the original and the 25th Anniversary remixes, for #SgtPepper50, Martin’s son Giles was in charge of the mixes, which produced a new stereo mix from the original mono masters. I still have yet to take the shrink-wrap off the double vinyl package, though I have heard that as good as the new mixes sound on CD, the vinyl is even better. It may only be a matter of time before the wrap comes off and I get see all the extras that first appeared in June 1967.

My post on #SgtPepper50 is here: Sgt Pepper at 50

Ryan Adams – Prisoner

Ryan Adams PrisonerPrisoner follows the release of a complete remake song by song of Taylor Swift’s 1989. Creatively, Prisoner is Adams’ most complete work of music on one disc since his work with The Cardinals. For whatever reason, Adams’ creativity and energy towards his music has been incredible. Prisoner captures that energy as has the tour he embarked on through 2017.

Prisoner swings from rock, to country folk and back, his voice lends to being able to commit to any style wants.  His musicianship shines throughout this disc; he loves his guitars and different sounds he gets from the many he owns. It brings diversity not on many discs.

It’s not too late to catch on to Prisoner and a masterpiece from Ryan Adams.

Lindsey Buckingham & Christine McVie – Buckingham/McVie

BuckinghamWhat drove the musical dynasty that propelled Fleetwood Mac in the ‘70’s, still has a presence 40 years later. Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie put together a good collection of songs, contributing their own and collaborating on other songs.

Fleetwood Mac fans; this is a something for you. It can be called, though it wasn’t, a reunion album for the band with everyone from “the Mac” performing with the exception of Stevie Nicks. Listening to this album took me back to 1975’s Fleetwood Mac Lp, the beginning of a good run of discs.

Ruth B – Safe Haven

Safe HavenIt took me forever to learn that it was Ruth B behind the song ‘Lost Boy’, only after seeing her perform the song at the Juno Awards did it click just how good the song was. On that performance I went and purchased the EP “the Intro”, then “Safe Haven came out. Ruth B has an amazing voice and just might be the soul/r&b singer that Canada has been waiting for. In fact the comparisons to Alicia Keys are very much warranted.

Through Safe Haven, Ruth B surprises and presents a sound that may have been in the works for years. It is a maturity that could be equal to, yes – Alicia Keys. With key tracks like ‘Dandelions’, ‘World war 3’, ‘First Love’ and ‘Superficial Love’ make Safe Haven a Summer Album for me.

Ed Sheeran – Divide

DivideAlong with Michelle Branch, Divide has been playing all year for me. It is refreshing to hear this modern troubadour consistently bring great music. Divide is a gift that keeps on giving hit singles. Divide started with ‘Shape of you’, ‘Castle on the Hill’, ‘Galway Girl’ and now a Christmas Number 1 on Billboard this week with the wonderful ‘Perfect’. Haven’t caught on to Divide? It’s not too late.

 

Up Next: My Best of 2017 Blog Posts

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

My Best of 2017: Books

The end is coming, the end of 2017.   With it comes the best of what I have come across in 2017; the best of music; the best of my blog posts and today the best of the books I’ve read. What follows are the best books I’ve read in 2017, some I have reviewd and a couple that I haven’t. If you have not read these books, I recommend that you pick them up in 2018.

Into the Silence by Wade Davis

Into the SilenceInto the Silence is one of the more difficult books I have read. I probably read it twice while reading it once, going over passages multiple times absorbing the story and imagining the climate and terrain being scaled. Into the Silence is the story of not one, but two attempts to climb Mount Everest. Into the Silence chronicles the climbers before and after WW1. The attempts to climb Everest were meant to reclaim the greatness of Great Britain. Wade Davis has researched and delivers the epic story men trying creating history. The first attempt was in 1922 and was followed by another in 1924. We know from history the first successful climb was made in 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary, 30 years after the first attempt. Reading this requires closing your eyes and putting Davis’s words into images. I was likely way off what the reality was in those two climbs, but even so imagining what took place has my put those explorers in a league of their own, as will you.

Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber

Are you sleeping

I reviewed this book in November, it’s a first novel by Kathleen Barber and the story revolves around the lives of six women following the murder of a man many years earlier. One of the women is a blogger who is “re-opening” the case against the murderer who may have been wrongly convicted. There are well-crafted twists and turns and an ending that took me by surprise. The women include a mother, a daughter and sister and a one woman who has hidden who she is from the ones she doesn’t realize she needs the most. Are you Sleeping is a page-turner that should be part of your 2018 reads.  Read the full review here:   Are You Sleeping

Red Notice by Bill Browder
Red Notice 2Canada passed Bill S-226, the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act. S-226 is Canada’s Magnitsky Act, and act that avenges the death of Sergei Magnitsky a Russian Lawyer who was killed while investigating high stakes financial corruption. Bill Browder in Red Notice recounts the story of Sergei Magnitsky in detail. The Book is Browder’s real life adventure in winning and losing money and seeing friends and business associates see their lives threatened and in the case of Magnitsky, lost. It paints a picture of Russia many would have thought disappeared with Stalin. Browder continues to fight against Russian and other foreign corruption encouraging other countries to pass laws like Canada’s S-226. Red Notice is all you need to understand the importance of the Magnitsky Act, but you will think it is something out of the movies.

Testimony by Robbie Robertson

robbie-robertson-testimonyThe good news is that Robbie Robertson is working on Testimony: Volume II. Even better news is that if you haven’t you must read this unnumbered Volume I. Testimony takes you from Robbie Robertson’s earliest years right up the “The Last Waltz”.  His talents as a songwriter are only surpassed by his abilities as a storyteller, something his mother told him a young age he would be. Testimony is one of the best books that documents music coming out of the straight jacket and into the late sixties and into the early seventies when some of rocks best lost there lives. It documents two tales of music, Bob Dylan going electric and The Band going out on top.

While we wait for Volume II, we still have Volume I.  Read the full review here: Testimony

The Red Kelly Story by Red Kelly

red kellyIn a six team NHL, becoming a legend took a lot of hits, a lot of goals and not making lot of money. Team owners ‘owned’ players, there was no NHLPA and road trips meant long bus rides. I doubt today’s players and legends of tomorrow will have the same stories of Howe, Keon, Sawchuck, Plante, Beliveau and Red Kelly. The Red Kelly Story bridges the Original Six with the Second Six expansion in the 1967-68 season.  There is not much controversy in the Red Kelly Story, but lots of inspiration. In the 100th Season of the NHL and the 125th Anniversary of the Stanley Cup the Red Kelly is a good book to learn about the roots of the game while we see the future each Saturday night.  Read the full review The Red Kelly Story

Up next: My Best of 2017: Music

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

836,484

836,484 – that is the estimate of newspaper readers who lost a newspaper when The Toronto Star and Postmedia ‘swapped’ 41 newspapers this week. It was like a NHL blockbuster and right after the trade, one of the teams involved would fold and no longer field a team on the ice.

StopThePresses

Like a hockey fan that would mourn the loss of their team, these readers mourn the loss of their newspaper.

I came to the number of 836,484 by using numbers from News Media Canada (https://nmc-mic.ca/about-newspapers/circulation/daily-newspapers/) from Metroland Newspapers and searching websites of affected newspapers that would give distribution and circulation numbers. Of the 836,484 readers affected, approximately 500,000 belong to Ontario communities that will see a daily or weekly paper shutdown.

836,484 is an estimate, it may be more and it may be less, but still it is a large number. Put this into another context, the City of Ottawa has 900,000 residents. One day the residents of Ottawa have a printed source of news and then the next day they don’t. Where would residents go to get local news? Not only would there be no paper delivered to their door, but for the most part there would be no news available online.

This is what will happen, and has happened as a result of the trade made between Postmedia and Torstar November 27th, almost 300 people will lose their jobs because of this trade.

Lost are free daily newspapers in Ottawa, Winnipeg, Toronto and Vancouver. Weekly Community newspapers across Ontario will also close. Smaller cities will lose daily newspapers. The largest of the small papers to close is The Barrie Examiner, founded in 1864, it pre-dates confederation. Almost 45,000 residents will no longer have the Examiner at their doorstep. It ceased publication the day of the announcement. In a year when we are celebrating Canada150, a 153 year old newspaper closes.

For the City of Ottawa, the concern faced by the City itself is the distribution of information to residents. Scott Moffat, Councillor for the ward of Rideau-Goulbourn in the south end of the city put into words how the closure of the local paper The Stittsville News will affect his ability to communicate import City and Ward (http://www.rideaugoulbourn.ca/news/sadnewsforthestittsvillenews). Moffat talks about changes he needs to make on how he’ll tell his residents about City and Ward services.

Overnight the City of Ottawa lost a way to inform about 100,000 residents through the distribution of local weekly papers about meetings, development and planning notices and budgets. The City of Ottawa will have to address this. How can this information be widely available without relying exclusively on emails, web notices and the use of social media? For many, there is nothing easier than flipping through a paper to the page that has city notifications. I regularly use the City of Ottawa website for information, but that in itself is more often than not a frustrating experience if the right keywords are not used.

A larger effect will be seen in communities where Councillors, MPs and MPPs used the local papers to write about important issues on a weekly or monthly basis. I doubt that larger newspapers like Hamilton Spectator, Toronto Star or the Ottawa Citizen will give space to local elected representatives.

The news of the closures does not mean local community newspapers are dead. There are still several in my community I will receive; The Centretown Buzz and the Centretown News are two I read. Others in the Ottawa area are still operating, successfully. While the larger owners close local papers, will locally owned papers be the future, as it has been in the past? Who will be the next entrepreneur that will see a need as Alex Munter did at the age14 who created the Kanata Kourier from his basement? The Kanata Kourier-Standard will close in January; with it about 25,000 people will not have that paper delivered to their front door anymore.

836,484 readers, that’s the number this week, sadly millions before this week saw their papers close and more will close in 2018 and beyond.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

The Battle of Vanier: Land use vs. Building Use

21728878_10155836666179924_314559902443611242_o
Out of the most divisive issues comes unity.

Last week saw an unprecedented Planning Committee meeting, it lasted three days and on the third day the meeting it went late into the evening. At stake was either safe shelter for 350 or the future of Vanier and its financial growth. The heart of the matter revolved around the Salvation Army relocating to Montreal Rd in Vanier from their George Street location in the Byward Market.

In what has become a war of words over the future of Vanier, the Battle of Vanier is clearly between two ideals; land use versus building use. City staff is on the land use side while Rideau Vanier Mathieu Fleury is arguing the building use will have severe impacts on Vanier.

In the middle of summer the Salvation Army filed a proposal to build a new large 350 bed facility that would locate all its services in one location (the current Concord Hotel) on Montreal Rd, which is classified a “mainstreet” by the city’s official plan. Ottawa now prohibits shelters on its mainstreets. Mainstreets by definition are meant for commerce and community gathering and keeping people moving. For the Salvation Army, the official plan will need to be amended.

It gets confusing and bewildering because City staff support a proposal that clearly goes against the Official City Plan, which City Staff had a huge hand in writing. With its support, planning staff is saying that the needed amendment ‘won’t be a problem at all’.

If you have trouble understanding how the mainstreet argument works consider other Mainstreet and “Main” street locations across Ottawa as examples. How about a large shelter on Strandherd Drive in Barrhaven, or on Meadowlands Drive in Keith Egli’s ward. Try selling a huge 300-bed shelter to Stittsville residents on Hazeldean Drive and I doubt anyone would allow a shelter beside a shiny condo on Richmond Road or even putting a shelter at the corner of Bank and Somerset downtown instead of rebuilding Somerset House.

21728936_10155836665524924_8730297377643678157_o

Photos courtesy of Danno Saunt (Sideman Ottawa)

There was another aspect in the Battle of Vanier, one which could have been avoided – The Mayor. The ink on the proposal was barely dry when Mayor Jim Watson came out in support of the Salvation Army’s plans. He voiced his support before the proposal was looked at by staff, was debated at Planning Committee, before residents could have a say and before the full Council vote. The Mayor holds great sway in council. He’ll try to tell he is one of 24 votes, honestly though, his “yeah or nay” will sway about a quarter of council seats. Coming out early on this forced Councillor Fleury to publically fight against the Mayor and most of council.

Whether the Mayor intentionally or accidently played his cards, he should have stayed quiet. I expect that he will lose votes in the fall, as SOS Vanier will make sure Rideau Vanier voters don’t forget who supported them and that the Mayor did not. By stating his support early in the process, the Mayor muted Councillor Fleury and virtually snubbed the 100+ residents and businesses that went to committee and stated their reasons for objecting to the proposal.

Clearly the Salvation Army did not expect such uproar. They almost admitted it, but could not find the right words when the Salvation Army spokesperson appeared on CBC Radio Ottawa Morning after the Council vote of 23-7 (Rick Chiarelli claimed a conflict). They admitted they had a lot of fence mending to do, but could not commit to saying they did not know the community well enough to foresee the outrage against the plans.

It was clear from the moment that SOS Vanier was formed by Vanier business owner Drew Dobson that who ever came up short in the vote at council would be appealing to the Ontario Municipal Board. Depending on the OMB outcome there could a lawsuit, which all means that it could be years before the wrecking ball comes down on the Concord Motel, which sits on the proposed Salvation Army building.

Speaking of the Concord Motel, there is a complication. The City of Ottawa is very tight for space for families that need emergency shelter, for days weeks or months. Guess where some families are put up, paid for by the City of Ottawa? The Concord Motel. Where will the City find the rooms lost with the demo of the Concord for the families that need the space? Good Question. The City better home the new Federal National Housing Plan works, and fast!

There is some good that comes out of the Battle of Vanier. The community has come together, again. The last time that happened was with the proposed closure of the Montfort Hospital. The Ontario government stood down from that because the community banded together. The Salvation Army shelter plan was the spark that brought Vanier back to its feet; I hope they don’t underestimate the community as Mike Harris did. SOS Vanier is here for a while and plan on keeping this issue alive.

Secondly, Councillor Fleury stood on his head defended his residents; I have not seen a councillor do that in some time. It was an “All-Star Performance” in the defense of Vanier and preserving Montreal Road. At worst he has almost secured a re-election with his efforts to protect his community with something he saw as being a bad fit.

The leaders of SOS Vanier have publically declared they will appeal the decision at the OMB, the Battle was won – the war wages on.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

Book Review: Lightfoot by Nicholas Jennings

 

LightfootI think I have spoiled myself. I have set a high bar for biographies after reading books on the lives of Keith Richards, Paul McCartney and the Beatles, Robbie Robertson among others. I have written on this blog before the effect reading a great biography has on me. I end up spending days and weeks listening to the music of the book’s subject buying the music I am reading about. This has happened after reading about Led Zeppelin (When Giants Walked the Earth) and Joni Mitchell (The Creative Odyssey of Joni Mitchell even though the book was just okay) where I added CD’s from each of these artists and more. I would say that reading about the music maker is my greatest motive for adding to my music library.

Written on the Inside front flap of the cover of the book is “…Jennings (the author) had unlimited access to the reticent musician. Lightfoot takes us deep inside the artist’s world…” Note that Lightfoot is italicized; my perception was that Gordon Lightfoot himself was going to bring readers and his fans into his world, something that Lightfoot has protected tightly.

Make no mistake, Lightfoot is the most comprehensive book written about Canada’s original folk singer-songwriter troubadour. Jennings provides a view into the life of Lightfoot. There is just enough of Lightfoot in the book to know that Jennings had spent significant time with him. The early years in Orillia are very well documented and give us a look into the musical talent that Lightfoot’s mother stimulated and encouraged from kitchen table concerts to Church services to public performances and winning talent shows.

There are multiple voices heard throughout the book, wives, girlfriends, business partners and artists that Lightfoot has played and written with, including Bob Dylan. The most interesting chapters of the book involved the early years finding his voice in a sea of other performers, touring and recording. Sadly a lot of what is written in this period comes from those around him. There is just enough from Gordon himself to add credibility of the “unlimited access” talked about on the inside flap.

What is lacking is more of Gordon Lightfoot. The early years could have used more of his take on the music and performing and collaborations and his take on his success, or why it was taking so long. Lightfoot’s music is his legacy; we are familiar with it and long to know more about it. Lightfoot could have used some focus; perhaps leading to ending the book in the lead up to 1976 and the success of that years surprise hit “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”. Without that focus, Lightfoot seems needlessly stretched to include GL’s sporadic recording since after the 2002 hospitalization and the near death experience following a collapse before a hometown concert in Orillia.

If Jennings had been able to extract more from Lightfoot, there might a reason to write about Lightfoot’s music past 1980, without it the book struggles to keep its audience.

The true test of course to the success of Lightfoot is whether or not I spent a significant amount of time listening to Gordon Lightfoot’s music. I didn’t. There was nothing to spur me on to listen back and hear in the music what Lightfoot was thinking or feeling at any particular time during his best creative years.

Lightfoot’s fans will enjoy the book, but it is best to limit expectations. Lightfoot himself doesn’t have the voice that was promised; if he had, there would’ve been a depth I’ve found other books of the same genre.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net