Best Gordon Lightfoot Songs – Rolling Stone

So many great songwriters came from Canada in the 1960s – legends like Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Robbie Robertson – that their talents It is sometimes overlooked by those who don’t know better. He never even appeared in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame before his death at 84. That’s a sharp injustice when you listen back to such gems as “If You Could Read My Mind,” “Carefree Highway,” and “Early Morning Rain.” Those songs earned him a reputation. as the songwriter, which you can see when you check out the list of people who have covered it: Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, and countless others. Or you can take it from Dylan himself, who famously said, “I can’t think of any Gordon Lightfoot song that I don’t like. Every time I hear a song by him, it’s like I wish it would last forever.” This is a guide to ten of the best Lightfoot songs.

For Lovin’ Me (1966).)

Long before most music fans knew the name Gordon Lightfoot, they knew his music thanks to tunes like “For Lovin’ Me.” A bittersweet ballad of self-loathing directed at an ex-lover (“I’m not the kind to hang around / With whatever new love I’ve found / ‘Cause movin’ is my store in the trade”), debuted on his 1966 debut, Do not miss!, and was covered within a few years by Peter, Paul, Mary, Ian & Sylvia, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, and the Carter Family. In 1973, Elvis Presley focused on it. And in 1975, the now-founded Lightfoot re-recorded it for him Gord is gone compilation. He combined it with “Did You Mention My Name?” In this version, the song completely transforms itself by revealing the loneliness that comes when you close your mind to love and human connection. -AG

Early Morning Rain (1966)

Early Morning Rain, an uplifting meditation on longing and loss, is one of Lightfoot’s first compositions and one of his most influential. He sings about his mistress, who leaves him on a plane while he is still drunk. “You can’t hop on a jet plane like a freight train,” he sings, “so I better be on my way / Early morning ‘Rain.'” Like many of his early songs, it was covered widely; John Denver even credited the tune with inspiring “Leaving on a Jet Plane”. But it was Dylan’s cover in the ’70s. Selfie which she felt Lightfoot affected him the most. Lightfoot once said, “I was absolutely blown away that he would record one of my songs in the first place.” mojo. “It helped my career. I hadn’t had a single song myself at that point. His cover was a mainstay in this whole process because it made people in the industry realize that I make good songs.” -kg

“Canadian Railways Trilogy” (1967)

A six and a half minute ballad about the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway would be a torch in the hands of most songwriters. But when Lightfoot was asked by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to write the historic song for Canada’s centennial celebration in 1967, he put his heart to the task and came up with a masterpiece about his country’s history and the resilience of the human spirit. “I stayed up all night working on it, until nine or ten in the morning,” said Lightfoot. “Then he fell asleep and piled back into it. Coffee and cigarettes—nothing else. No booze at that point. The song was done in three days.” The end result was so beloved that even Queen Elizabeth knew about it. “I met her in our capital, Ottawa, at a Canada Day celebration,” Lightfoot said in 2016. “She told me how much she loved ‘Canadian Railways Trilogy.'” She looked at me and said, “Oh, that song,” and then said again, “That song,” and it was That’s all she said.” -AG

“Did you mention my name?” (1968)

The gift of well-turned anecdotes about heartbreak that would endear Lightfoot to country audiences in years to come is in effect on this 1968 gem, from his John Simon-produced third album. The narrator catches up with a friend he hasn’t seen in years, and tries to play it cool as they talk about the good old days. But he is only able to defer the question that haunts him until the last line of each verse: “Is the home team still on fire? Do they still win all games? And by the way, did you mention my name?” The song with the same ground that Dylan would explore a few years later with “If You See Her, Say Hello.” —SVL

“If You Could Read My Mind” (1970)

“If You Could Read My Mind” is the Canadian cousin to “You’re a Big Girl Now”: a harbinger of divorce that’s a wrench in the heart, but you play it over and over anyway, because that’s the power of the Lightfoot song. It barely takes a breath here, dropping every line steeped in imagery and melancholy. Anyone else would seem silly when he compares his pain to being “in a dark castle or a strong castle/With chains on my feet.” The song was such a hit that the album it was released from – ’70s Sit down, stranger It was quickly renamed after her. It is so beloved that it has been covered by everyone from Viola Willis to Gene Clark to Neil Young. Paul Westerberg of The Alternacements even joked that he wanted to sing it at his funeral. -I be

“Sundown” (1974)

One of the most ominous songs about infidelity ever made, “Sundown” was Lightfoot’s only hit in the US. “This is as close as you can get to catching (the Beatles), because they were always there, and you always had to compete against them.” Lightfoot’s voice is warm and moody as he delivers a warning to his ex’s new mate: When he sings, “Lost in love with her is your first mistake,” you can almost smell the nocturnal air piercing the folds of the satin dress. “It did really well,” said Lightfoot, downplaying the classic. “It has interesting harmonic passages. It has a great arrangement and it’s not too bad of a sound. If I were to do it again, I’d probably try to do the voice again.” We have to disagree, but his willingness to remix even his most popular songs decades later speaks to his unparalleled mastery. –He is

Carefree Highway (1974)

Lightfoot was “driving from Flagstaff to Phoenix, about 1:30 a.m., trying to catch a plane back to Toronto” when he saw the road sign that inspired this mid-1970s hit. For desert travelers, Arizona State Route 74 is a handy 30-mile stretch of pavement; To Lightfoot, his poetic title evoked the story of a restless soul on the road, who wandered the Southwest with an old flame named Ann on his mind. She’s back in his rearview mirror – he doesn’t quite remember her face anymore – but he can’t forget her either, as the sad strings roll. He recalled years later: “I saw ‘Carefree Highway’ and said to the bass player, ‘That sounds like a song title to me.'” —SVL

“Rainy Day People” (1975)

Part of Gordon Lightfoot’s genius was his ability to turn a simple idea into something beautiful. In “Rainy Day People,” he addresses real friends who don’t back down when times are tough. “People on rainy days always seem to know when it’s time to call,” he sings. “People on a rainy day don’t talk, they just listen until they hear everything.” The song peaked at number 26 on the Hot 100, well below Freddy Fender’s “Before The Next Teardrop Falls”, Tony Orlando and Dawn’s “He Don’t Love You (Like I Love You)” and “The Immigrant” by Neil Sedaka. Many of these songs are long forgotten, but the universality of “Rainy Day People” has allowed them to live on. -AG


“debris Edmund Fitzgerald(1976)

A cargo ship carrying iron ore across Lake Superior sank, killing all 29 crew members, during a storm in November 1975. This tragedy inspired the six-and-a-half-minute Brog Story song. Amid swinging guitar and some cute keyboard lines, Lightfoot paints a full picture of the disaster, singing about the lake, the ship, and its crew. His passion for the story resonated with listeners, and the song reached number two Billboard Hot 100. The town of Superior, Michigan even made him an honorary citizen to bring attention to the wreck’s victims. He said “It means a lot to me to share that with the world, to meet a lot of people who have been connected in one way or another… with shipping on the Great Lakes.” Rolling Stone. “It was an opportunity to meet hundreds of people who somehow identified someone or something related to that unfortunate tragedy.” –kg

Daylight Katy (1978)

In the late 1970s, rock, country, pop and disco were all melting together in a swirl of liquid, easy listening. Lightfoot found himself right at home in this amazing swamp in “Daylight Katy.” In this song, he looks to end up at the end of the winning “Sundown” dynamic, playing the potential patron of a creepy backstay filly, who “walks out to sea where the seaweed is”. Gordo calmly holds Katie in place with his casually resigned baritone, take it or leave it. “If you can’t follow me / Daylight Katy come home,” he offers. Rolling Stone He wasn’t very nice to him endless wiresaid: “Lightfoot’s latest LP lacks even the simple virtues that used to make it endurable.” But “Daylight Katy” is a keeper—we mean the song. As far as Katie herself….e, let’s wait until daylight and see how it goes. –c.

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