Gordon Lightfoot started singing in public school in third grade in his native Canada, and now, more than 50 years later, the award-winning singer/songwriter is still thrilling his fans with live shows. The latest, “50 Years on the Carefree Highway,” comes to the Grand Opera House on Friday.
“We are coming to Macon, and we are going to play our music. I love playing at old halls like the Grand Opera House. I’ve already drawn a picture in my head of what it looks like,” Lightfoot said.
According to a news release, the show will feature fan favorites, deep album cuts, behind-the-scenes stories and personal anecdotes from Lightfoot’s career, which evolved from that day in grade school through barbershop quartet to the folk music that made him famous.
“It seems like an odd mix -- barbershop to folk; I got started in the folk revival that occurred between 1960 and 1963, playing in coffee houses, bars, lounges,” he said. “I started playing guitar and listening to others; that’s how you learn.”
Lightfoot said Bob Dylan was -- and still is -- a big influence on him, especially in terms of work ethic.
“I admired the volume of work he was producing. I did five albums in five years; he did six. I did 91 shows last year; he did 100,” Lightfoot said, and the feeling is obviously mutual, as Dylan has called Lightfoot “a mentor.”
In addition to Dylan, Lightfoot has influenced generations of artists. His songs have been recorded and performed by Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Jr., Eric Clapton, Olivia Newton-John, Sarah McLachlan, Barbra Streisand, Toby Keith and many others, according to the release.
Lightfoot has recorded 20 albums and earned five Grammy nominations, five No. 1 radio hits in the U.S. and 16 in Canada. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in June 2012.
Some of Lightfoot’s songs include “Early Morning Rain,” “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” “(That’s What You Get) For Lovin Me,” “Canadian Railroad Trilogy,” “Rainy Day People” and audience favorite “If You Could Read My Mind.”
“We get the best reaction from ‘If You Could Read My Mind.’ It’s a great one to save for the end of the show; that’s what people are waiting for, and we get a huge applause. It just works so beautifully in that spot,” Lightfoot said, adding that the show is two hours long with a 20-minute intermission.
His audiences range from babies to senior citizens, he said, and he finds that makeup to be the most fun.
“I get a connection; I feel it when I get in front of a crowd.”
At 76, the singer said he is “somewhat still writing,” though he has no plans to record in the near future.
“We are just doing shows and loving it. The pressure’s off,” he said. “All that matters is being motivated; you have to be motivated from the inside to keep doing this. And we love what we do.”
When: 8 p.m. Feb. 20
Where: Grand Opera House, 651 Mulberry St.
Information: 478-301-5470; www.thegrandmacon.com