TORONTO – Gordon Lightfoot kept his humbled composure on Thursday night as a room of devoted fans toasted the Canadian folk legend at the premiere of “Lightheaded,” an affectionate documentary about the community that’s grown from decades of his music.
Held in-person at the restored 1930’s-style Eglinton Grand venue in Toronto, the modest, invite-only event was centred around one thing: the 83-year-old guest of honour who showed up to receive the loving embrace alongside his bandmates.
“Tonight is very special to us,” Lightfoot said as he took a moment aside from the festivities.
“There are some really great fans in this group here,” he added. “I’m happy to meet them.”
And with that he stepped away to mingle with the group, posing for photographs with the filmmakers and their friends, and sticking around to watch the documentary for the first time.
“Lightheaded” is a love letter to Lightfoot and the meaningful impact his classic songs such as “Sundown,” “If You Could Read My Mind” and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” to name a few, have on listeners, especially the ones who refer to themselves as Lightheads.
The documentary traces a group of them, led by its producer and lifelong fan John Corcoran, as they traverse the globe in hope of taking another hit of Lightfoot’s live energy. Much of the footage was captured during his tour of the United Kingdom and British Isles in 2016.
Interviews with Lightfoot and his bandmates are scattered throughout the film to offer viewpoints from the life of touring musicians.
Corcoran, 67, claims to have seen Lightfoot in concert more than 400 times since his cousin first played the 1970 album “Sit Down Young Stranger” for him when he was a teenager.
“I heard ‘Minstrel of the Dawn’ and I was off to the Milky Way,” he said of the LP’s first track.
After hearing their father spin Lightfoot music their entire lives, his two children decided they wanted to turn his unwavering love into a proper film, even though they hadn’t had any experience making one before.
“This is a perspective that only we have because of dad here and the years of friendships that developed,” said co-director Brady Corcoran of what he and his sister brought to the film.
“Lightheaded” arrives with the unintentional lens of the COVID-19 pandemic, which makes footage of packed concerts and gatherings of friends carry a strange nostalgia for a bygone era.
“It’s almost a snapshot in time of six years ago when everything seemed almost naive,” said co-director Baylee Kahlon.
Watching those moments at the “Lightheaded” premiere was a reminder of a rare and cherished opportunity to come together at a movie screening that might not have happened even a few months ago.
“Having people gather safely was unbelievable to imagine” at one time, Kahlon said. “To have this event even taking place at all is a dream come true.”
“Lightheaded” will premiere on Amazon’s Prime Video in the spring.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 17, 2022.
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