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MIKE FINIGAN: Missing Gord

A guitar built for Lightfoot tunes. CONTRIBUTED
A guitar built for Lightfoot tunes. CONTRIBUTED

Well, for those of us who used to love to hate the internet ... those days are over. We’re all hugging our beautiful little laptops and iPads and tablets and phones now.

While we’re all cooped up together like it’s a ’60s love-in.

Only thing is, if it was the ’60s and we had to stay home together, the love-in would maybe last Monday and part of Tuesday. Then the love-in would end and WWE would begin. Somebody would make a piece of toast and find the jam gone and then bodies would start flying through the air. It would be the suplex and the Boston crab, the sleeper, the pile driver and the step over the back toe hold with nobody tagging out.

Mike Finigan
Mike Finigan

You imagine?

So, yeah. “THANK GOD FOR THE INTERNET!”

Except, the thing is, while I was shooting pool on my iPad for the last four hours, I missed the Gordon Lightfoot special on CBC-TV. A two-hour documentary on my all-time No. 1 musical hero. I didn’t even know it was on. I went down to the basement to sneak an ice cream sandwich ... there were two left ... and sat down in front of the TV.

Oh.

Gordy.

But. It was an hour and a half in.

Let me tell you something about Gordon Lightfoot and me. We never met. He wouldn’t blink if he heard my name. I never saw him in concert until he was in his late 70s and I was played out and jaded then from way too many house parties, getting as cranky as I heard ol’ Gord could get on the circuit.

If somebody asked him to play “The Canadian Railroad Trilogy” for the 2,500th time, he might get a little testy, just like if somebody asked me to play “The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald.” I didn’t write that song or make it famous, but I played it I’m sure 1,200 times, and loved it the first 1,150 times.

Gord and I were always in different cities. He’d be playing in London, England, and I’d be working at the tire factory in Kitchener, Ont. You know.

But by my Kitchener days I was starting to play the guitar a lot. Mostly Gord’s tunes. “Did She Mention My Name?” “If You Could Read My Mind.” The Trilogy. “Don Quixote.”

Years later, I got a job working on the railroad out west. Living in boxcars, swinging a hammer all day long on the prairies and into the mountains. I did it because Gord sparked my imagination. I wanted to be a navvy. Waving from a picture in chapter five of a Canadian history book.

Later, back in school in Halifax, sometimes needing some beer money, I’d go busk down in front of the library, by the Winston Churchill statue, singing Lightfoot songs. “The Edmond Fitzgerald.” “Song for a Winter’s Night.” “Summer Side of Life.”

And later still driving across Canada to work again in Alberta, winding north through Ontario, camping along the shores of Lake Superior, looking out at Whitefish Bay. OK and two days of rocks and trees, trees and rocks, but ...

A couple of years ago I made a big purchase. I bought a Martin D-18 guitar. Lightfoot’s choice. Besides his Gibson 12 string. Man o man.

If G.L. knew how he influenced people over his lifetime, it might scare him into never playing again.

Gord, I almost died playing your music a few times, dude! Rough parties. Fast trains and bar cars, tables full of free beer for the guitar player. Hitchhiking a thousand miles, playing for meals.

But here we are. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Though I missed his documentary playing on that computer pool.

But wait.

I can get it online. Wait. There it is.

I LOVE THE INTERNET!

Hey. Good luck out there.

Mike Finigan from Glace Bay is a freelance writer now living in Sydney River. He can be contacted at cbloosechange@gmail.com.

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