The stars they come stealing at the close of the day

There’s an event pavilion on the slopes of Mt. Diablo about forty-five minutes from my house.

You can either pay extra and sit under the canopy or bring a blanket and sit under the stars. I’ve done both and prefer to spread out on the grass and take my chances with the mosquitos. The sound is the same and maybe even better.

I don’t know how many concerts I’ve seen at the Concord Pavilion over the years but without a doubt, this guy and this song made the biggest impression on me.

For one thing, Lightfoot had a mini-orchestra on stage behind him and when they ignited, we were all on that doomed ship, thrown about in the merciless waves and counting the last moments of our lives.

The other song that electrified the crowd that night was “Canadian Railroad Trilogy.” It tells the story of the men who built the railroads across Canada, the men now “too silent to be real.” But also of the “green dark forests” that covered the wilderness “long before the white man and long before the wheel”… also too silent to be real. It felt like, in the dark hills surrounding us, druids watched and wept.

He’s gone, dammit. Another chunk of my soul just chipped away. He wasn’t a young man (84) but then, like Leonard Cohen and so many of the legendary poet/folksingers, he never seemed like a young man. They came to earth as old souls, flawed old souls who made mistakes just like the rest of us but were able to confess in word and song.

Fella, it’s been good ta know ya!

33 thoughts on “The stars they come stealing at the close of the day

  1. He was good. I didn’t know him. (I have so many holes in my “cultural racket” 😉)
    Sorry that he’s gone. And yes, Cohen (and others) were “old” when we were kids… Doesn’t change their magnificent contributions to our memories…
    Take care

  2. Thank you for this post, JT. His passing hit me in the heart yesterday when I heard the news…what a soundtrack for a chunk of my life. And…what a treat to read about the Concord Pavilion. My parents lived in the Bay Area for years and a mention of Mt. Diablo and the Pavilion made my heart melt. Hugs! 🥰

    1. I have many great memories of the Pavilion. The traffic has gotten so bad lately that I haven’t been there in decades. I’m too old to spend hours in traffic!

  3. What a sadness to lose Gorden Lightfoot, what a poet he was and that he could sing too…and what a wonderful way to learn about history. I love The Wreck of The Edmond Fitzgerald!
    God rest his soul.💜💜

  4. Hi Jan,

    As a side note, I once asked Aaron what he thought of GLightfoot and he said, he’d never heard of him. As you know, Aaron is a Canadian and a musician. So I sent him some links to the music. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that the relatively young Aaron had not heard of him. Thanks. Duke,vid:pAx3nDUA9wM

    1. Oh my – I probably would have yelled at him! The Canadian Railway is considered Canada’s national anthem. They even put his face on a postage stamp! Me thinks a bit of brain fart? Premature senility?

  5. My husband and I saw him once in a theater-in-the-round in Cleveland and he was wonderful. He had such a great voice and I always enjoy story songs. I’m familiar with The Canadian Railway and The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald is a classic. Are you familiar with Al Stewart? His “Roads to Moscow” is to me like those two songs. I did a post on it 11 year ago and had a link to the video but when I went back now it says the video violate YouTube’s terms of service. Who knew? Anyway, here’s a link to his site and the lyrics, but please check out one of the videos. It’s just a heart-breaking song.


    1. Yes, a deeply talented man. I saw a documentary on his life and he was a pretty intense person. I guess you have to be to produce so much art.

  6. Just a ghost in a wishing well, now.

    Do music artists ever really die, though? Is there some forever-vibration that reverberates across the universe, reaching the edge and bouncing back again?

  7. I’m sorry to say that when I heard he had died, my thought was, “I didn’t know he was still alive.” That happens a lot to me. He was a great artist, though, with a voice that really showed emotion.

    I like the Concord Pavilion too…it’s my favorite big venue. I agree with you, I like the sound better from the lawn. It’s not so deafening. Last year we saw Tears for Fears, which was our first concert since the pandemic started, and being far back like we were really helped me feel safe about the whole thing.

  8. So true about coming to life as an old soul! I read the news about Lightfoot’s passing and paused a minute to realize how *mature* I now am. Not really ready to admit that many of the musicians from my youth are no more.

    1. I saw the documentary on Lightfoot and it’s amazing he made it as long as he did! So many of the musicians from my youth didn’t make it much beyond thirty!

    1. He was considered mostly a song writer and folk singer. He never really did the super star bit. However to see him on stage was better than any rock and roll performance I’ve been to (except George Harrison – he was magic).

  9. Lately it seems all the icons of our youth have been passing away… reminding me that I’m getting old ( I’m still not saying I AM old, although my granddaughter assures me I am)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s