I'm Not Sayin' it's the Gordon Lightfoot listening thread (but it is)...new album every Thursday

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To complete the circle back to Gord: Travis and Dallas Good of the Sadies are the sons of Bruce Good of the Good Brothers (1970s country/bluegrass outfit) who played on Old Dan's Records (and maybe other stuff?). Could that mean that Gordon Lightfoot himself is on the Sadies' Rolodex?

softspool, Friday, 5 April 2019 17:10 (ten months ago) link

It's possible! I'll ask them next time I see them. Constantines were the best band, really, around album #3 they kind of started taking more cues from The Band than Fugazi and I liked them less but still loved them. Their reunion shows have been off-the-hook good

flamboyant goon tie included, Friday, 5 April 2019 19:03 (ten months ago) link

loved the first Bry Webb record, too. actually not a million miles from Gord.

Simon H., Friday, 5 April 2019 19:09 (ten months ago) link


I wonder what they're talking about

Simon H., Friday, 5 April 2019 19:51 (ten months ago) link

“Walls” is heckin great, just a mid-60s jam from front to back. “Hey, I discovered honesty!” Also classic for the “socks” coda.

I think I hear echoes of Nico’s version of “I’m not saying” in the intro and outro of “If You’ve Got It”.

“Softly” is balls.

“Crossroads” is a fantastic warm-up for CRT.

“A Minor Ballad” is pretty minor. But a top-notch exhibition of Gord’s vibrato. Also when he harmonizes with the cello (?) in the break, yeah!

“Go-Go-Round”, I’ve never been a huge fan of. Unnecessary double-tracking on the vox. Good refrain but the whole thing feels too much like a formal exercise.

“Rosanna” is another exercise in 60s chauvinism. Forgivable... and kinda forgettable. Nice energy tho, and I like the chord changes. I see it as being transitional — there’s some good imagery and experimentation in narrative technique.. but ultimately, bleh.

“Home From the Forest,” totally a pleasant nothing.

Interesting transition production-wise from “Forest” to “I’ll be Alright”. Stylistically very similar but check the vocal treatment, from distant and narrative to intimate and personal. A piffle of a song tho.

“SFaWN” is another trifle. The fact it’s the third in a series of indistinguishable shuffles in a row doesn’t help it.

CRT starts similarly. You could be lulled into thinking it’s yet another pleasant interlude... and then they (it feels v much like a band effort) break into that speedy boom-chicka thing, and the “look away” bit makes it weirder and more urgent. Then the slow bit about the navvies, then a transition back to the boom-chicka bit... aw, hell, what’s he doing? A little triumph, not quite the nation-defining achievement it’s sometimes made out to be, but you know what? It’s close enough.

The re-recording of “The Way I Feel” is thoroughly unnecessary. Do I detect an attempt to channel “Tomorrow Never Knows” in it? I understand why they were drawn there, but the original was more genuine and more hypnotic.

All my moaning aside, this is a record you can put on front to back and there’s nothing that makes you cringe. The playing is top-notch and Gord’s voice is in fine form. The songwriting is deepening - sure there are missteps but you really begin to hear him developing his own style here.

Una Palooka Dronka (hardcore dilettante), Saturday, 6 April 2019 02:33 (ten months ago) link

Just popped the mono version of The Way I Feel on. Immediately it’s more engaging.

The echoes of Nico’s “I’m not Saying” are in “Walls”.

“If You’ve Got It” is a whole other beast. Great band performance.

Una Palooka Dronka (hardcore dilettante), Saturday, 6 April 2019 02:43 (ten months ago) link

I'm perplexed by the re-recording too. I actually like the song better that way, with the reverb and rhythm-heavy arrangement giving it a real brooding feel, but it stands out a bit oddly on the album. I don't think there's another Gord tune that sounds quite like that. Actually I think a lot of this album sounds as though it was recorded in different studios. The mix is all over the place. The fingersnap (?) on "Song For a Winter's Night" made me think my turntable was skipping.

Still, it's better than I remembered. Can't believe I've never noticed the connection between "Crossroads" and "Canadian Railroad Trilogy" before. I agree "Softly" is a bit naff but I think he pulls it off. "Go-Go Round" I love...makes me feel like I went to high school in the 60's. Side 2 does have some filler-ish tunes but Gord's voice is so good at this point, you could listen to him read the phonebook.

frogbs, Monday, 8 April 2019 21:37 (ten months ago) link

by the way...the "song of the future has been sung" part of CRT is probably my favorite moment in the catalogue...its like Gord Overdrive

frogbs, Monday, 8 April 2019 21:45 (ten months ago) link

"If You've Got It" is such great song, is that an outlier, it seems pretty pop for him, at least in a folky pop way?

velko, Tuesday, 9 April 2019 07:07 (ten months ago) link

I also find "May I" from Did She Mention My Name really poppy, or at least very British Invasion-y. The piano riff that shows up feels so very different than other Lightfoot songs to me. "Magnificent Outpouring" kinda continues on the same vein a little. I really like both of this songs.

That said, here is the next album!

Did She Mention My Name - 1968

"Wherefore and Why" – 2:51
"The Last Time I Saw Her" – 5:10
"Black Day in July" – 4:10
"May I" – 2:19
"Magnificent Outpouring" – 2:20
"Does Your Mother Know" – 3:33
"The Mountain and Maryann" – 3:35
"Pussywillows, Cat-Tails" – 2:48
"I Want To Hear It From You" – 2:22
"Something Very Special" – 3:19
"Boss Man" – 2:10
"Did She Mention My Name?" – 2:27

I much prefer this album overall compared to The Way I Feel. The Mountains and Maryann is a favourite of mine, its vaguely spiritual "All is well" takes me back to church in a good way. I love the country outro to Magnificent Outpouring. The horns that show up in "I Want To Hear It From You". I love all of the little touches on this album.

Will (kruezer2), Thursday, 11 April 2019 14:30 (ten months ago) link

"Magnificent Outpouring" is pure magic. though for whatever reason the recording doesn't sound very good

frogbs, Thursday, 11 April 2019 14:35 (ten months ago) link

...also the title track, while it feels strange as a closer its such a great song. It feels of a kin with The Circle Is Small on the album. I like his understated longing and jealous songs.

Will (kruezer2), Thursday, 11 April 2019 14:36 (ten months ago) link

*on the next album

Will (kruezer2), Thursday, 11 April 2019 14:36 (ten months ago) link

There's something about Pussywillows, Cat-tails that sounds like it could be arranged for a precocious elementary school choral group to sing, and I think I read somewhere that Gord himself doesn't like it. Still, I remember being captivated by it as a kid (and even now, sure). Beautiful winding melody and an air of mysteriousness, like paddling a canoe down a meandering stream in some Northern Ontario provincial park.

softspool, Thursday, 11 April 2019 15:51 (ten months ago) link

Agreed that there are some really nice little details in the arrangements on this album. Always loved the sorta-kinda Spector drums on Black Day in July.

softspool, Thursday, 11 April 2019 15:56 (ten months ago) link

Pussywillows, Cat-tails definitely feels like with a few tweaks and the right children's choir it could fit right in on Song's For Friday Afternoon's era Benjamin Britten.

(btw, I meant the country outro on May I, not Magnificent Outpouring in my earlier post, I need to re-read what I write more today it seems)

Will (kruezer2), Friday, 12 April 2019 01:55 (ten months ago) link

ok I'm listening now. it's great. really playful in spots. "May I" is a really weird song for him to do...it's like a folky version of Syd-era Floyd

frogbs, Friday, 12 April 2019 02:07 (ten months ago) link

Did She Mention My Name (the song) has such a Canadiana Nostalgic thing going on for me. I grew up in south-western Ontario, and even though Gordo isn't from my era, or quite from my area, I feel like I can easily conjure up the scene I think he's painting. He's clearly keen to universalize the lyrics, but for me there's really a time and place to it. Mythical and sentimental of course, but legitimately evocative.

softspool, Saturday, 13 April 2019 02:28 (ten months ago) link

Will otm that the title track is a weird closer. I grew up with is as (I think) the first track on the UA best-of, which was one of about 10 records my parents owned. It’s a gem, easily one of my favourites of his.

Una Palooka Dronka (hardcore dilettante), Saturday, 13 April 2019 02:46 (ten months ago) link

Will, that's otm re: britten. I totally sang "old abram brown" in a grade school choir. You nailed the aesthetic i was thinking of.

softspool, Saturday, 13 April 2019 03:12 (ten months ago) link

This album is a stone cold classic.

I totally agree with the title track being prime Canadian Small Town Nostalgia, separate from the Big City national nostalgia of songs like CRT. Did She Mention My Name and Summertime Dream (coming up in a few weeks) are my go to songs for reminiscing about the small town experience I never had growing up in a big city like Toronto.

The Last Time I Saw Her is one of his most underrated songs. It's one of his most heart wrenching deliveries and one of the few vocals where you feel he's letting it all hang out.

NoTimeBeforeTime, Monday, 15 April 2019 19:37 (ten months ago) link

been listening to these records to follow along. have only known the greatest hits cos my mom was a fan. pretty every song is at a bare minimum 'good'.

love the studio trickery on something very special, was unexpected. i keep going back to the album opener on this one tho.

but I can't let Trae do it I got Huerter on my mind (Spottie), Monday, 15 April 2019 21:10 (ten months ago) link

Wherefore and Why is great, I also like this Glen Campbell cover of it.


Will (kruezer2), Thursday, 18 April 2019 16:34 (ten months ago) link

...and its Thursday, time for a new album!

Back Here On Earth - 1968

"Long Way Back Home" – 3:02
"Unsettled Ways" – 1:51
"Long Thin Dawn" – 2:57
"Bitter Green" – 2:42
"The Circle Is Small (I Can See It in Your Eyes)" – 3:26
"Marie Christine" – 2:54
"Cold Hands from New York" – 5:16
"Affair on 8th Avenue" – 3:25
"Don't Beat Me Down" – 3:16
"The Gypsy" – 2:45
"If I Could" – 4:02

Will (kruezer2), Thursday, 18 April 2019 16:37 (ten months ago) link

The most underrated song on this album to me is Long Thin Dawn, its gotta be the most country Gord ever gets. The harmonies in the chorus are great. Is it Stockfish & Shea doing the harmonies?

Will (kruezer2), Thursday, 18 April 2019 18:09 (ten months ago) link

The Circle is Small just kills me, "I can see the way you look, when his name is mentioned and I die".

Will (kruezer2), Thursday, 18 April 2019 18:17 (ten months ago) link

I had no idea there was an 'early' version of this - it's really great (the one I had for years on a Greatest Hits album was the later, re-recorded version)

don't remember much from this album so I'll give it a listen now. "If I Could" was pretty great if I recall

frogbs, Thursday, 18 April 2019 18:21 (ten months ago) link

frogbs, you mean an early version of 'The Circle is Small'?

As an aside, I like that so many people in this thread got into Gord thru their parents playing the shit out of his GH or a record of two of his. There's a Velvet Underground style everyone that heard it started a band reference in here I can't quite make fit.

There are a few misses for me on this album though, Cold Hands from New York starts strong but I tire of it in the second half.

I like Bitter Green well enough, but I'd rather to listen to Christian Island or High and Dry or TWOTEF when it comes to his nautical songs.

I can never decide if I like Affair on 8th Avenue or not, depends on the day, I do really like the imagery of these lyrics and especially their delivery, that plus the descending chords and pace shift get me.

And our fingers entwined like ribbons of light
And we came through a doorway somewhere in the night

I also don't love Don't Beat Me Down. I feel like he packs too many syllables into it, if I want to listen to an urgent social issues song of his I'd rather hear Black Day in July.

I find The Gypsy slight, but I think about the lyrics every so often and they bug me, he sings in the third verse

You were taught to read and write, to take your lessons home at night
A little knowledge serves you well but the golden rule does not

and in the fourth verse he sings

And now I see with due respect, the more we learn the worse we get
So if you feel you've no regrets, go have your fortune read

But these don't reconcile right? Or is he saying he understands now that fortune telling is useless? Or am I over thinking some lyrics he threw together? haha.

Will (kruezer2), Friday, 19 April 2019 02:31 (ten months ago) link

There are some lovely melodies on this album, Bitter Green in particular, but on the whole the lyrics, arrangements, and execution feel rushed. The next studio album is a massive step forward, and the next album proper is one I tend to reach for when I need to hear him.

Ρεμπετολογια, Friday, 19 April 2019 03:47 (ten months ago) link

that long thin dong...

ciderpress, Monday, 22 April 2019 20:30 (ten months ago) link

About 30 seconds of "Sundown" turns up in Beach Bum.

clemenza, Monday, 22 April 2019 21:36 (ten months ago) link

Hm not feeling this one so much. bitter green, circle is small and if i could are the only keepers for me.

but I can't let Trae do it I got Huerter on my mind (Spottie), Monday, 22 April 2019 22:30 (ten months ago) link

are we doing Sunday Concert? I know it's a live album, but half the songs don't appear on any studio albums, including "The Ballad of Yarmouth Castle", which I think is excellent...almost a prelude to "Edmund Fitzgerald"

frogbs, Tuesday, 23 April 2019 21:48 (ten months ago) link

listening to Back Here on Earth again...never really appreciated this one, since a lot of the songs feel a bit like retreads of other songs from the UA albums, and it's right before his big hitmaking period. but it's really quite good I think...stripping back to just the three musicians makes it sound a lot more focused than the last record, and I've come to see "Cold Hands From New York" as existing in the same vein as "Canadian Railroad Trilogy". and "The Circle is Small" is indeed a classic. I like the last couple tracks too - nice to hear him get this straightforwardly melodic. It's a bit slight to recommend but it's good.

frogbs, Tuesday, 23 April 2019 22:11 (ten months ago) link

I was planning on doing Sunday Concert unless there's a lot of opposition to it!

Will (kruezer2), Wednesday, 24 April 2019 05:14 (ten months ago) link

Sunday Concert, hell yes.

Una Palooka Dronka (hardcore dilettante), Wednesday, 24 April 2019 13:05 (ten months ago) link

Sunday Concert - 1969

"In a Windowpane" – 3:11
"The Lost Children" – 2:47
"Leaves of Grass" – 3:43
"I'm Not Sayin'/Ribbon of Darkness" – 2:54
"Apology" – 4:33
"Bitter Green" – 2:43
"Ballad of Yarmouth Castle" – 5:18
"Softly" – 3:16
"Boss Man" – 2:26
"Pussy Willows, Cat-Tails" – 2:53
"Canadian Railroad Trilogy" – 6:41

Will (kruezer2), Thursday, 25 April 2019 14:05 (ten months ago) link

I'm goin for the "Sunday Concert - Plus" version, cuz I feel like Gordin' out a little harder today

"Lost Children" and "Yarmouth Castle" are both keeps from this. Actually all the 'new' songs are nice, though you can hear why they weren't recorded...they're fairly similar to stuff he's done already

frogbs, Thursday, 25 April 2019 20:26 (ten months ago) link

actually, scratch that..."Apology" is excellent. one of his most poetic songs yet.

frogbs, Thursday, 25 April 2019 20:36 (ten months ago) link

This is an amazing album, listened to it twice this morning. I have no fondness for “Softly” but the enthusiasm with which it is always received is infectious

flamboyant goon tie included, Thursday, 25 April 2019 21:38 (ten months ago) link

Love this album so much. I made my own pilgrimage to see Gordon Lightfoot at one of his Massey Hall love-ins in 1987, and he was still performing about half the songs on this album with new arrangements (Pee Wee Charles on pedal steel, Mike Heffernan on keys). But Sunday Concert does a marvellous job of capturing the sound of that room.

Ρεμπετολογια, Friday, 26 April 2019 01:36 (ten months ago) link

this ones really good hadnt listened to it before

ciderpress, Friday, 26 April 2019 02:25 (ten months ago) link

I like Yarmouth Castle a lot as well. I like how its a classic folk ballad style, Woody Guthrie-esque, makes it a nice counterpoint to the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

It might be weird to say but I wish Gord wrote more nautical disaster songs, especially more focused on the great lakes.

Ρεμπετολογια that would have been a great concert to see, I didn't see Gord til after 2000 and his voice was no longer as powerful as it once was of course.

That said, this seems like the appropriate place to ask what Gord concert stories people have?

Will (kruezer2), Friday, 26 April 2019 20:33 (ten months ago) link

I saw him in 2010. I heard his voice was pretty shot so I figured I wouldn't drive far to see him but he actually came to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, so what choice did I have? It's true that he didn't sound like he used to but it was still decent...the band was great and Gord himself was pretty affable, telling stories between songs and joking around a lot. It was a pretty varied set, I feel like he probably played at least one song from every single one of his albums, and there were a lot of great deep cuts like "The Watchman's Out". I had reservations but I definitely did not regret going.

frogbs, Friday, 26 April 2019 21:24 (ten months ago) link

I'm so Gord-ignorant I didn't know 'til I looked it up just now that he wrote "I'm Not Sayin'," even though I've had the single by Nico for 20-odd years, and could have looked at the label---and he's joined it to "Ribbon of Darkness" here! Gotta get it.

dow, Saturday, 27 April 2019 01:52 (nine months ago) link

The more I listen to Sunday Concert, the more I like In A Windowpane. Apology is really great as well. I agree frogbs, its really poetic, I love the double time chorus as well, "I made a grab at anything the earth was gone and I was on a vicious circle then", really excellent.

I think the last time I saw him was the same tour you saw him frogbs, I saw him in Tampa (or St. Petes, I can't remember) in February/March 2010. He played all of the standards and the crowd of mostly snowbirds went crazy (or about as crazy as they ever get). I was also pleasantly surprised.

Will (kruezer2), Wednesday, 1 May 2019 13:46 (nine months ago) link

Kind of a slight era for Gord here, although his technical prowess is increasing. Back Here on Earth is a fine listen; the band is in great form and the simple production is spot-on, but none of the songs is a stone classic to my ears. Same goes for Sunday Concert. There’s something a little distant about the performance (maybe just the ambient sound of the room?) that keeps me from engaging with it too much. Sounds nice, tho.

Una Palooka Dronka (hardcore dilettante), Wednesday, 1 May 2019 23:48 (nine months ago) link

Sit Down Young Stranger/If You Could Read My Mind - 1970

"Minstrel of the Dawn" – 3:26
"Me and Bobby McGee" – 3:38 (Kris Kristofferson, Fred Foster)
"Approaching Lavender" – 2:56
"Saturday Clothes" – 3:20
"Cobwebs & Dust" – 3:20
"Poor Little Allison" – 2:30
"Sit Down Young Stranger" – 3:26
"If You Could Read My Mind" – 3:48
"Baby It's Alright" – 2:58
"Your Love's Return (Song for Stephen Foster)" – 3:55
"The Pony Man" – 3:27

Here we are in the 70s

This album feels very unique to me in his catalog. Like was said earlier in the thread Ry Cooder, Van Dyke Parks and Randy Newman all worked on this album and I think it shows.

Will (kruezer2), Thursday, 2 May 2019 18:58 (nine months ago) link

title track sure is something

ciderpress, Thursday, 2 May 2019 18:58 (nine months ago) link

"if you could read my mind" i mean - didnt realize this was released under two names

ciderpress, Thursday, 2 May 2019 18:59 (nine months ago) link

nothing to add, just echoing the other comments. that was a really great read.

frogbs, Tuesday, 28 January 2020 15:21 (four weeks ago) link

great article indeed, i echo Simon's point that i definitely want to check out Robbie's music now. It was really interesting to read about Gord's tuning obsession and his detailed look at the mechanics of the music was really illuminating, my own understanding of music theory is small so this was really helpful in understanding the songs more deeply.

my only thing is on this point he makes...

“Sometimes I think it’s a shame, when I get feelin’ better when I’m feelin’ no pain.” Regret over feeling better, while a neat irony, isn’t a known emotion in the human repertoire.

'feelin' no pain' means getting drunk to everyone else right? Not sure if its just something i heard from the old guys at the bars in my small hometown. I can definitely understand that the line makes no sense if you don't know the euphemism.

Will (kruezer2), Wednesday, 29 January 2020 16:17 (four weeks ago) link

that was always my assumption

a lot of times when I don't understand a particular line I just assume it's about drinking or groupies

frogbs, Wednesday, 29 January 2020 16:46 (four weeks ago) link

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