On his 80th birthday, CBC Archives returns to Muskoka, Ont., with Gordon Lightfoot

Gordon Lightfoot, from the Jan. 1, 1967 CBC TV special 100 Years Young. (CBC Still Image Library)

This Nov. 17 marks Gordon Lightfoot’s 80th birthday, and the singer-songwriter has chosen to celebrate the milestone by giving a gift to his hometown.

He’s making a stop in Orillia, Ont., on his birthday, to perform a benefit concert for the Opera House and the Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital.

In 1967 when CBC-TV’s Telescope profiled the young “folk laureate,” the program opened with Orillia as the backdrop.

Telescope host Fletcher Markle summed up Lightfoot as “a country boy whose home territory encouraged an awareness of nature and weather, and the simplicity of open spaces that is echoed lyrically in many of his songs.”

‘The country that I grew up in’

Lightfoot talked with Telescope about the influence of of the countryside of his boyhood on his music, as he sat, surrounded by the rocks of the Canadian Shield.

He went on to explain that the “little landscapes, or images” that come up in all his songs are not particular images, but just a backdrop for the “idea and the concept that you’re working on.”