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Any Major Gordon Lightfoot Songbook

On May 1 we lost the great Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot, one of the great poets in popular music who also had a good turn in writing engaging music. And he was a fine singer with a warm, appealing voice. I would suggest that no time spent with the music of Gordon Lightfoot has ever been entirely wasted.

Lightfoot’s lyrics told of love, loss, nature, history and — sometimes and without occupying a podium — social issues. The man was an accomplished storyteller, and the acts featured on this songbook tell these stories.

Musically, Lightfoot rarely attracted covers from artists outside the folk-rock and country scene, except perhaps the odd easy listening merchant muzaking the hits. There are no soul covers on this mix because I know if no soul covers of Lightfoot songs — though I can imagine someone like Roberta Flack doing justice to If You Could Read My Mind.

Still, there are a couple of unexpected acts featured here. Indie band The Dandy Warhols, for example, or — talking of Warhol! — future Velvet Underground singer Nico. The German singer’s version of I’m Not Sayin (the label renders the song without the necessary apostrophe) was released in 1965, a year before she hooked up with the Velvet Underground.

It’s a bit poignant that this collection also features Harry Belafonte, who predeceased Lightfoot by less than a week.

As ever, the mix is timed to CD-R length, and includes home-mindread covers as well as the above text in an illustrated PDF. Password in comments.

1. Gordon Lightfoot – Rainy Day People (1975)
2. Richie Havens – I Can’t Make it Any More (1966)
3. Elvis Presley – That’s What You Get For Lovin Me (1973)
4. Eric Clapton – Looking At The Rain (1977)
5. Herb Pedersen – It’s Worth Believing (1984)
6. Richard Hawley – Early Morning Rain (2009)
7. Ron Sexsmith – Drifters (2003)
8. Gretchen Peters – Song For A Winter’s Night (2006)
9. Johnny Cash – If You Could Read My Mind (rel. 2006)
10. Eddy McManus – Carefree Highway (2018)
11. Trout Fishing In America – Ode To Big Blue (1990)
12. Nico – I’m Not Sayin (1965)
13. Spanky And Our Gang – Steel Rail Blues (1967)
14. Harry Belafonte – The Last Time I Saw Her (1969)
15. Johnny Mathis – Wherefore And Why (1970)
16. Joe Dassin – L’amour etc (Sundown) (1974)
17. The Dandy Warhols – The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald (1998)
18. Cowboy Junkies – The Way I Feel (2003)
19. Nanci Griffith – Ten Degrees And Getting Colder (1993)
20. Poco – Ribbon Of Darkness (1982)
21. Kenny Rankin – Pussywillows Cattails (1974)
22. Anne Murray – Cotton Jenny (1972)
23. Ronnie Hawkins – Bitter Green (1970)


Previous Songbooks:
Ashford & Simpson
Barry Gibb Vol. 1
Barry Gibb Vol. 2
Bill Withers
Bob Dylan Volumes 1-5
Brian Wilson
Bruce Springsteen
Burt Bacharach & Hal David Vol. 1
Burt Bacharach & Hal David Vol. 2
Burt Bacharach’s Lesser-Known Songbook
Carole Bayer Sager
Carole King Vol. 1
Carole King Vol. 2
Chuck Berry
Cole Porter Vol. 1
Cole Porter Vol. 2
Elton John & Bernie Taupin
George Harrison
John Prine
Jimmy Webb Vol. 1
Jimmy Webb Vol. 2
Jimmy Webb Vol. 3
Lamont Dozier
Laura Nyro
Leonard Cohen
Neil Diamond
Paul McCartney Vol. 1
Paul McCartney Vol. 2
Rod Temperton
Sly Stone
Steely Dan

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  1. amdwhah
    May 11th, 2023 at 10:30 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. Brett Alan
    May 13th, 2023 at 08:39 | #2

    I hadn’t thought about it, but you’re quite right that it’s odd that there weren’t more soul/r&b versions of Lightfoot’s songs in the ’70s. However, depending on how you want to define “soul”, there was Viola Wills’ classic disco version of “If You Could Read My Mind”.

  3. amdwhah
    May 14th, 2023 at 10:55 | #3

    Of course! I even had it on my shortlist. Doh!

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