Folk Singers: Cosmopolitan Hick

Greek bard, Provencal troubadour or Negro blues man, the folk singer has always played the role of a romantic wanderer. Fashioning his songs from real or imagined experiences along the way, he has sung for his supper and moved on. But lately, that style has been in danger of fading. The modern bards team up with commercial rock groups, or pa rade into well-publicized seclusion, or go wandering in their own psyches in stead of the countryside.

Canada's Gordon Lightfoot, 29, is one up-to-date folk singer who maintains the old tradition. He comes onstage in a battered buckskin jacket, as...