Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A concert to remember on this Gordon Lightfoot Day!

If you listen to the  CBC Music Radio Station you would know that this was deemed "Gordon Lightfoot Day" and the station was streaming music and interviews to mark the release of Gordon’s new album “All Live!.”  Iterestingly… last night I was sitting with friends and happened to hit the Internet and –lo and behold- there was a music clip of Gordon and John Denver singing “An Irish Lullaby”.  A tear came to my eye….a memory from the past…. but what a great memory.

There on You Tube was the clip of a concert I had attended on  October 17th 1977.  Now you might say yes and.. .but it wasn’t just any concert…it was what I would call my favorite of all time…

I had gone to the Syracuse’s Land Mark Theater after its restoration to see Harry Chapin in a charity concert and he mentioned that he was going to Detroit and that he was going to be joined by Gordon Lightfoot, John Denver & James Taylor in a benefit for his World Hunger cause.

My friend and I went home that night and both of us said…we “gotta” go to that concert!  So we called around and got tickets and invited 2 of her friends to go...mistake in a way...  We set out and made it with a bit of time to spare…found a cheap motel room for us…and I brought food which they were not too happy with and we set out for the concert which was being held at the Olympia Stadium.

We sat for what seemed like an enormous amount of time before they announced that there had been a huge accident on the main highway and they were waiting for the rest of the crowd to arrive...sold out to 17,000 people.  I received flack from the friends...but we persisted and what followed was the concert of all times…it was the men themselves with their guitars and no bands……..What a treat……!!

The stage that rotated in a circle belonged to John Denver and the event was never to be recreated as each man sang two or three songs and then it went to the next……

About in the middle, I think -  Gordon announced that John Denver and he had practiced a song as a special tribute to Bing Crosby who had died that week.. and so they sang “The Irish Lullaby”…with all the old words…to a rousing standing ovation.  I will never forget it!

The song was written in 1914 by composer James Royce Shannon and became a major hit only two years before his death in 1944 when Bing Crosby sang it in the movie “Going My Way!"  Everyone knows the chorus…Too-ra-loo-ra-lura… but do you remember the verse????

“Over In Killarney,
 Many years ago,
My Mother sang a song to me
 In tones so sweet and low;
 Just a simple little ditty,
 In her good old Irish way,
 And I'd give the world to hear her sing
 That song of hers today.


“Oft, in dreams I wander
To that cot again.
I feel her arms a-hugging me
 As when she held me then.
And I hear her voice a humming
 To me as in days of yore, 
When she used to rock me fast asleep 
Outside the cabin door.”

John’s dead, Harry’s dead … and the friends we took to the concert that night were so thankful they had been at the concert that ended in a standing ovation and lighters lit for World Hunger…17,000 of them!

Hunger is something we still have today in abundance…and is growing in our own country among the poor and elderly…as gas prices, medical bills and heat costs go up...there will be many more!  We have got to stamp it out!

Well ... we are so lucky that someone took the time to tape this clip on their cheap tape recorder...and I so lucky to have found it!

So play the clip below…and enjoy ….. a bit of history and nostalgia from the “back street”…


  1. Such a lovely clip, thank you SO much for sharing it. I am a fan of John Denver from across the pond and to hear his gorgeous clear sweet voice ringing out here was magical. I really wish I had been there!

    I had Irish grandparents and my mum always used to sing this song and you're right - I can't remember the words but can remember the chorus. Beautiful to hear it again.

    1. I had attended this concert at the Detroit Olympia in 1977 with my best girlfriend Linda Lindsay. This was a most rememorable concert I had ever attended. I was watching Gordon Lightfoot today on CBS Sunday Morning which brought me back to this memory of these four great singers. It was totally amazing !!!! Thank you for bring back a memory never forgotten with the clip.

  2. I can't tell you how much it means to me to have been given this small experience of what it must have been like to be at that concert. Harry Chapin, John Denver, and Gordon Lightfoot all shaped my life in profound ways and have near-sacred status in my musical memories. I remember Harry promoting World Hunger Year at his concerts. Knowing that these other guys got together with him to support that cause... makes my memories of all of them that much more special.

    I've never really gotten over John and Harry's deaths. I recently saw Gordon in concert again and could hardly bear seeing (and hearing) how much he's aged. The resonant baritone has faded, but he still gave us quite a playlist.

  3. I was also there and will never forget it. A once in a lifetime event.

  4. I was there and will never forget that night-it was magical! Thank you for posting the clip!

  5. I wss there. After the concert I went to CKLW and was interviewed by Harry as I worked on hunger issues for the City of Detroit.