Gord’s Gift

Music as medicine.

We interrupt our regular programming to talk about the loss of Gordon Lightfoot.

The Canadian singer-songwriter passed away at 84 last week and I’ve been playing his music non-stop.

Each song perfectly crafted, every song a story, revealing truths that are universal and lasting. And that’s why the music of Gordon Lightfoot will endure.

Music is the most magical art form. The best songs reach into our souls and tap into something deep.

I’ve been listening to a broad range of Gordon Lightfoot’s songs this week, but I keep going back to “If You Could Read My Mind.”
The song was released in 1970 and 53 years later, after countless plays, it still packs a wallop.

In 3 minutes and 49 seconds, Gordon captures love gone wrong, failure, the loss of passion and the pain of being brutally honest. It’s not an angry song. It’s a love song. But he’s letting go and it breaks your heart.

In under four minutes, I’ve taken a ride with a master and the music allows me to better understand my own journey.

If you’ve ever had love and lost it, the song just slays because of its truth and its humanity.

This is what great art does—it touches us, shapes us, defines us, and makes us feel things we’d just as soon bury.

I’ve loved music for as long as I can remember.

But as I grow older, the songs reach deeper, and I find I need them more to help me understand a very confusing world. I am rediscovering old songs, listening to lots of new music and searching for songs that convey meaning.

It’s a happy search and when I find a special song or a promising artist, I want to share my discovery with my wife Diane. It’s like sending flowers that last forever.

My friend Blake shared something on Facebook after Gordon Lightfoot passed. It was from a column written by Bob Lefsetz. Lefsetz is one of my favorite writers because he angers and delights me often in the same piece. Here it is:

“I’m not talking about a performer. I’m not talking about an award-winner. I’m not talking about someone who is rich. I’m talking about someone who learns the basics and then walks into the wilderness, on their own journey, following their own compass, not someone else’s. And it’s got nothing to do with what you look like, but rather what goes on in your brain. AI (Artificial Intelligence) can create something that sounds like the past, but it can’t create something that sounds like the future, after all it’s based on scraping the internet, and the new, the bleeding edge, the breakthroughs are never there. No one can teach you to be an artist. Not even Rick Rubin. Sure, you can be encouraged, but more often you’re discouraged. The odds are too long. Your choices are bad. You’re not that good. But some stay the course and break through. That’s Gordon Lightfoot.

Decades from now people might not know Gordon’s name, but I guarantee you they’ll be singing his songs. Because they contain truth, and for that reason they are timeless. But it’s not only the words, but the changes and the vocals. Gordon Lightfoot had it all. I’d implore you to remember him, but his songs will do the work for him.”


Those songs will do the work. They will endure. Mr. Lefsetz captures the artistic process, it’s about finding your voice, sharing insights, revealing truths—even if they are inconvenient, maybe especially if they are inconvenient. This is how we evolve as people.

Art endures.

Art moves us forward or makes us look back and truly see.

There’s so much noise in our world these days…so many distractions.

But art clarifies, explains, and raises questions too. Music enlightens, calms, excites, and touches us. It reminds us of our humanity.

And we need reminders.

“If you could read my mind, love

What a tale my thoughts could tell

Just like an old time movie

‘Bout a ghost from a wishing well

In a castle dark or a fortress strong

With chains upon my feet

But stories always end”

Yes, stories always end. But the music lives on.

Western Stars

The songs tell the stories of loved lost, failure, hard living and longing. But somehow they are tinged with hope.

Bruce Springsteen released a new album last week and for me that’s always a reason to celebrate.

But this album, his 19th studio album, is something extra special for a few reasons.

First, it’s just really good.

The songs are beautifully crafted, the lyrics are packed with meaning and the album includes oboes, bassoons, French horns and other instruments rarely used on a Springsteen album. He’s evolving and I find that not only interesting but inspirational as well.

The reason this album has extra resonance is that it is being released three months before Bruce’s 70th birthday. That’s an age where most musicians are long past their prime and decades beyond their creative peak.

But there he is, still exploring, still pushing boundaries, still growing. And I find that awe-inspiring.

The best artists are those whose work seem to run parallel to our lives—as if they are somehow writing with us in mind. Of course, that’s not true, but the magic comes because their words and music remain relevant to where we are in life.

I’ve grown up with Bruce and now I’m growing old with him.

As a young rock fan growing up on Long Island in the 70s and 80s, you couldn’t avoid Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band. They were on the radio, the posters were on the windows of the record shops (remember those) and the music was played loud at every party we went too.

I was bitten hard by the Bruce bug in 1978. I was 14 when “Darkness on The Edge of Town” was released and I was smitten by hard driving songs about life, love and work, the open but often lonely road and America itself.

Once I discovered “Darkness” I backfilled my collection with his first three albums—all of them brilliant and meaningful—at least to me— a teenager trying to figure it all out.

But unlike most teenage obsessions, rock music and Springsteen would continue to be meaningful as I went off to college, started my career, had a family, suffered the loss of loved ones, went through a divorce, found new love, changed careers, got involved in civic life and then re-invented myself again.

Now as I grow older, the music continues to resonate, inform, entertain, move me and make me think.

The old songs still strike something deep inside and take on new meaning as I listen to them 40 years down the road as Bruce would say.

And the new music is a gift; a beautiful gift.

I’m excited that my favorite artist is still out there creating as he nears his 70th birthday, long past the sell-by date we are force fed by a youth-oriented society.

In two months, I will turn 55 an age when you start to understand that the sands are running through the hour glass very fast and that more sand is on the bottom of the glass than remains on top. Many of my friends are my age or older and I am starting to see them wrestle with health issues and thoughts of hanging them up.

 I get it and can relate.

But I still aspire.

Last week, I was in a meeting with a younger man–a friend— and the talked strayed briefly from business to life. He looked at me and said “you have about 20 years left to be productive.”

Lord, I hope so.

He meant what he said as a compliment. But as you age you realize that 20 years passes in the blink of an eye.

I can still remember being that young boy listening to that Springsteen record with the volume turned up in my room in Stony Brook, N.Y. playing air guitar and dreaming of “The Promised Land.”

And in a blink, you see your 50s flash by, your kids grow up and your friends grow old.

But Bruce Springsteen is still singing at 70, with no plans to quit and so he gives me hope that we all can keep going for years to come.