Sharing affinity for Gordon Lightfoot with a customer
I recently discovered that I have Gordon Lightfoot’s first 14 LPs in my collection. He released 20 albums over his 40-year career. There was a time in my late teens and early 20s when I listened to him on a regular basis. Just the other day in the store I played his first LP, “Lightfoot,” from 1966 in its entirety.
I had forgotten how good that record was that contained “Early Morning Rain,” “For Loving Me,” “Steel Rail Blues” and “Ribbon Of Darkness” on it.
There was a customer in the store who started humming along with “Early Morning Rain.” I told him I thought Lightfoot should be more popular than he is. The customer responded that he thought it was because Lightfoot is from Canada. My response: “It hasn’t seemed to hurt Neil Young or Joni Mitchell.”
I was familiar with “Early Morning Rain” because one of my aunts or my cousin had the Peter Paul and Mary 45 of that song. I really did not become aware of Lightfoot until I heard his great “Don Quixote,” “If You Could Read My Mind” and some of his other songs on an FM radio station coming out of Denver.
My mother was a big fan of Lightfoot as well, so it was easy for me to go out and purchase his music because she was a willing listener.
This wasn’t true for all of the music I played when I lived at home. She was very supportive of most of it. One of her favorite Lightfoot songs was “That Same Old Obsession” from 1972’s brilliant “Old Dan’s Records.” His first 10 albums all received critical acclaim. Some of my other favorite songs from his early years include “Canadian Railroad Trilogy”, “Cotton Jenny,” “Wherefore and Why,” “Bitter Green,” “Ten Degrees and Getting Colder,” “Beautiful,” “Pony Man,” “Alberta Bound” and “Ghosts Of Cape Horn.”
It wasn’t until 1974’s “Sundown” that his career really took off. The title track of the same name was his biggest hit to date, but it wasn’t the only great song on that record. In fact, every song on that record was above average. My favorites are “High and Dry,” “The Watchman’s Gone,” “Seven Island Suite,” “Too Late for Prayin’” and “Carefree Highway.”
Lightfoot followed “Sundown” with “Cold On the Shoulder” in 1975. It could have been called Sundown II because of the familiarity and quality that is consistent with its predecessor. Standout songs include the title track, “Rainy Day People,” “Bend In the Water,” “All the Lovely Ladies” and “Cherokee Bend.”
Lightfoot was at his creative peak in 1976. Not coincidentally he released his best recording, “Summertime Dream.”
Containing his second biggest hit “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” the album had 10 great songs like “Race Among the Ruins,” “I’m Not Supposed To Care,” “Spanish Moss,” “Never Too Close” and “Too Many Clues In This Room.”
Lightfoot’s last recording of original material was 2004’s “Harmony,” which came after a near fatal medical condition in 2002. I have seen Lightfoot twice since that time. Even though his voice wasn’t as strong as it used to be, I enjoyed both shows. I considered myself lucky to have seen a man who has given us so much quality music throughout his career.