Tuesday, May 2, 2023

RIP: Gordon Lightfoot

A better singer/songwriter than the Canadians deserved: Canadian folk singer Gordon Lightfoot dead at 84

Gordon Lightfoot, Canada’s legendary folk singer-songwriter known for “If You Could Read My Mind” and “Sundown” and for songs that told tales of Canadian identity, died on Monday. He was 84.

Representative Victoria Lord said the musician died at a Toronto hospital. His cause of death was not immediately available.

Considered one of the most renowned voices to emerge from Toronto’s Yorkville folk club scene in the 1960s, Lightfoot went on to record 20 studio albums and pen hundreds of songs, including “Carefree Highway,” “Early Morning Rain” and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”

In the 1970s, Lightfoot garnered five Grammy nominations, three platinum records and nine gold records for albums and singles. In the more than 60 years since he launched his career, he performed in well over 1,500 concerts and recorded 500 songs.

Althouse takes him to task for altering his creative vision at the behest of his daughter:

"Here’s a live performance of his beautiful song 'If You Could Read My Mind' (1970), which he wrote about his divorce. In this video he sings, 'I’m just trying to understand the feelings that you lack,' which is in the original recording too. Later on when he played it live, he changed one word at his daughter’s request, instead singing '…the feelings that we lack.' He realized that the deeply personal subject matter had prevented him from being objective enough to think of that improvement."

Should a man run his writings past a woman to benefit from insight about what might offend women? We were just talking about a woman who gave a draft of her writing to her ex-husband and then rejected all his suggestions about how to soften the harshness toward him. The editor said his corrections would weaken the story.

I can't say what of his many songs I like best, but he had a good many, but here is one that stands out as an example of his Canadian patriotism, and a song that probably couldn't be performed today:

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