Gordon Lightfoot, one of my musical heroes, has passed away at age 84. His wonderful songs, some of the best of which never made the charts, are too numerous to name, but here are a few:
GORDON LIGHTFOOT — a genius-level Canadian singer-songwriter whose most enduring works include “If You Could Read My Mind,” “Sundown,” “Carefree Highway,” “Early Morning Rain,” and “Rainy Day People” — died on Monday, the CBC confirmed. He was 84.
Lightfoot’s deceptively simple songs, which fused folk with pop and country rock, have been covered by everyone from Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash to the Grateful Dead, Barbra Streisand, Jerry Lee Lewis, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Buffett, and the Replacements.
He scored a series of hits in his native Canada throughout the Sixties, but most Americans first heard his work in 1970 when “If You Could Read My Mind” reached Number Five on the Hot 100.,,,’
The success of “If You Could Read My Mind” in 1970 was the start of a stunning run of hits, including “Sundown,” “Carefree Highway,” and “Rainy Day People.” The biggest came in 1976 after he read an article in Newsweek about the the sinking of the bulk carrier SS Edmund Fitzgerald on Lake Superior on November 10, 1975. He called the epic maritime disaster song, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”
If there is one song of his that stands out to me, it’s Early Morning Rain, a song I played over and over again in my mind as I travelled alone through Europe in college, repeatedly stuck with no place to go.
In the early morning rain with a dollar in my hand
With an aching in my heart and my pockets full of sand
I’m a long way from home, Lord, I miss my loved ones so
In the early morning rain with no place to go
Gordon was featured many times in our Video of the Day series, the last time being in August 2021. Call it my playlist (copy and paste the “code” into YouTube, or just Google the code, to listen):
Summertime Dream – 2yu9gEENumI
Carefree Highway – iYuF99VTEdg
The Way I Feel – pAx3nDUA9wM
Rainy Day People – x2Sb1gtzmsc
I’m Not Sayin – 5Af5d1FeJn4
Summer Side of Life – 7Gs98fVoHVI
Your Love Returns – gC8iAGSr4pU
Did she mention my name – VfPZUKHYEh8
Saturday Clothes – F4anOSSGm6U
Beautiful – 3_lt5O40ps
Canadian Railroad Trilogy – NjoU1Qkeizs
Edmund Fitzgerald – Q0DqPSF2fyo
For Loving Me – WpkATS6mjbc
Early Morning Rain – iTu-jHcwhts
If you could read my mind – bAedY3NucEs
Sundown – sSmv38nClGo
Some of his songs were epic. Everyone thinks of The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald:
But nothing was more epic than the Canadian Railroad Trilogy, which created an image of a wild and free-spirited Canada in my mind that prevails today (even though reality now is quite different):
This one I always dedicated to The Wife when we played it. It may be the greatest love song ever to receive so little attention.
Farewell, Gordon. If you could read my mind, what a tale my thoughts could tell.DONATE
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