okay this is where I'm truly hearing them for the first time. I don't think I've heard any of his post-Endless Wire albums, outside of Harmony - felt like I owed it to him to buy that one, since he quite literally cheated death to make it. Anyway...I'm actually digging this one, it's short and mostly sweet, and I actually kinda like the cluttered arrangements - by this time his band was incredibly tight, I don't care how many guitars they layer on. kinda amusing that there's another dead sailor song, "Ghosts of Cape Horn"...actually feels a bit like a Gord parody track, though I still think it's pretty good.
actually this strikes me as a better album than Endless Wire...feels like there are more ideas here (is "Make Way For the Lady" the first time he's ever tried jazz?) and it's less dreary. the title track is really nice, it's just one long chorus. I wish more people would write songs like that. I'd imagine the cover of "Auctioneer" was not so well received but I like it. It's like the "Scatman" of the 50's
― frogbs, Monday, 8 July 2019 18:39 (seven months ago) link
Shadows - 1982
"14 Karat Gold" – 3:56"In My Fashion" – 3:05"Shadows" – 3:02"Blackberry Wine" – 3:05"Heaven Help the Devil" – 3:14"Thank You For the Promises" – 2:53"Baby Step Back" – 3:59"All I'm After" – 3:23"Triangle" – 4:10"I'll Do Anything" – 3:25"She's Not the Same" – 3:11
Been off on holiday, sorry for dropping this in the interim!
I've not had the chance to give this one a listen yet. But In My Fashion is my favourite 80s Gord song that I can think of off the top of my head. Very interested in giving this a re-listen.
― Will (kruezer2), Thursday, 25 July 2019 18:47 (six months ago) link
oh yes in my fashion is very good, never heard it
― big city slam (Spottie), Thursday, 25 July 2019 23:16 (six months ago) link
blackberry wine is some proper dad rock
― big city slam (Spottie), Thursday, 25 July 2019 23:23 (six months ago) link
Baby Step Back is kind of Sundown Pt 2.
― Ρεμπετολογια, Monday, 29 July 2019 19:03 (six months ago) link
yeah "In My Fashion" is really nice
"Blackberry Wine"....lmao. I'm glad these 80s albums are at least entertaining.
overall I thought this was okay. maybe I should give it another listen or two but by the time I get to "Triangle" it's like...yeah, it's nice, but we've heard this a dozen times before. his voice is still in good shape though.
can't help but notice the cover resembles a boomer trying to snap a selfie for Facebook
― frogbs, Tuesday, 30 July 2019 15:30 (six months ago) link
Yeah I get that same feeling from this one, starts off with my attention, and I like the production better than Dream Street Rose but I lose the plot after Baby Step Back.
Specifically I like 14 Karat Gold as well as In My Fashion and the title track is solid, but I start losing the plot after that. Blackberry Wine is some intense dadrock, Heaven help the Devil floats by.
Thank You for the Promises sounds a lot like another of his songs but I can't think of what one. Is it a re-do from an earlier album?
Ρεμπετολογια you are totally right about Baby Step Back. To the point it feels like Gord was listening to his old albums and just re-arranging them and writing new lyrics.
Like you are saying frogbs, his voice and lyrics (mostly) are still good but his music isn't changing at all at this point.
― Will (kruezer2), Wednesday, 31 July 2019 13:57 (six months ago) link
Forgot to mention my favourite part later in this album, on All I'm After when he sings "I think I got it made" and holds the note for a few beats. That felt unique in his catalog.
― Will (kruezer2), Wednesday, 31 July 2019 14:03 (six months ago) link
Salute - 1983
"Salute (A Lot More Livin' to Do)" - 4:24"Gotta Get Away" - 2:54"Whispers of the North" - 3:20"Someone to Believe In" - 3:32"Romance" - 3:31"Knotty Pine" - 4:00"Biscuit City" - 2:55"Without You" - 3:07"Tattoo" - 4:28"Broken Dreams" - 4:05
A day late, but here we are. Now I really do not know this album at all. I'm fairly certain I know at least a song or two off the rest of his albums but I don't recognize the names of any of these ones.
― Will (kruezer2), Friday, 2 August 2019 13:27 (six months ago) link
always avoided this for the cover shot alone. you can practically hear Gord's thoughts, "I'm not proud of this album, please don't take my picture for the cover"
― frogbs, Friday, 2 August 2019 13:29 (six months ago) link
Haha, Gord's all "I will NOT fucking salute" on this cover
― softspool, Friday, 2 August 2019 16:43 (six months ago) link
oh man, Gord's voice aged pretty rapidly. he'd be around 45 when this came out but he sounds about 65. he can still sing but a lot of that richness is gone and there's sort of a whine on his upper register. weird because he sounded alright on Shadows, which only came out a year before.
anyway, this is sorta how I expected all his 80's albums to sound; I figured sooner or later he'd get a producer that 'punched up' the rhythms and blended the steel guitar & synths into a fine paste. It's a bit Huey Lewis sometimes ("Someone to Believe In") and the poppin' bass on "Gotta Get Away" is kinda hilarious. there's a couple of real pretty songs on this one though - I thought "Knotty Pine" and "Tattoo" were pretty good. "Tattoo" actually sorta works with his ravaged voice.
the album might've worked better with the sides flipped - the first side falls into pretty much every trap a 70s folk artist could fall into, but the songs on Side 2 ain't bad. incredibly corny sometimes but it's still an okay listen. I don't think I wanna hear it again, but still.
― frogbs, Friday, 2 August 2019 18:07 (six months ago) link
yeah, this is a strange album. I don't hate the title track, but just why you know. It's my favourite on side one though, I can see why it was the single.
Gotta Get Away sounds more like his normal music, but its worse for it, terrible.
Whispers of the North & Romance are just real struggles lyrically.
Agreed on Knotty Pine, really pretty little song. The synth line that shows up at the end of the lyrics is refreshingly understated.
My favourite is Tattoo, these are the songs I want from Gord at this stage, resigned to his fate, looking back on life and making peace with it. Biscuit City works on this same wavelength.
Broken Dreams feels like Salute again, he started and ended the album with really similar songs. I wonder if that was intentional.
― Will (kruezer2), Saturday, 10 August 2019 01:47 (six months ago) link
East of Midnight - 1986
"Stay Loose" – 3:53"Morning Glory" – 3:24"East of Midnight" – 3:58"A Lesson in Love" – 4:05"Anything for Love" – 3:43 (Lightfoot, David Foster)"Let it Ride" – 3:40"Ecstasy Made Easy" – 4:05"You Just Gotta Be" – 3:34"A Passing Ship" – 3:55"I'll Tag Along" – 3:08
The only song I know off this one is the David Foster collab, which manages to pull off both sounding like a Gord song and a David Foster song at the same time. I'll give it credit for that but not much else. Curious to see how the rest of this album did after taking a 3rd year to release for the first time.
― Will (kruezer2), Saturday, 10 August 2019 01:52 (six months ago) link
this one starts well, then really loses the bit around the Foster song. Thank god for A Passing Ship & I'll Tag Along. I especially liked A Passing Ship on first listen.
― Will (kruezer2), Saturday, 10 August 2019 02:21 (six months ago) link
A few more thoughts.
Even in the 80s how did Anything for Love get on the country charts? bananas.
Saying it starts well is maybe a bit much, its starts okay, Stay Loose is a silly song, kinda like Salute. Its not one I need to re-listen to but I don't hate it.
Morning Glory is like a lesser GL song from the 70s. The title track is passable.
Then from A Lesson in Love to You Just Gotta Be is horrific, the worst run of songs in his career. Sappy lyrics, over produced, voice is lacking. Sounds nothing like anything I want from GL.
Then I really love A Passing Ship, it's like a Gord power ballad. It might challenge In My Fashion for 80s GL songs.
I'll tag along is much like Morning Glory, a lesser 70s song, still nice to hear.
― Will (kruezer2), Monday, 12 August 2019 18:51 (six months ago) link
The country charts were bananas in the mid-80s. 51 different songs made it to #1 on the Billboard country chart in 1986 alone, a lot of them even more bland and MOR than Anything For Love (which only got to #71 anyway). Gord's biggest country hit was Sundown which made it to #13 in the summer of "74. His biggest hit as a writer was Marty Robbins's "Ribbon of Darkness", #1 in June 1965.
― Ρεμπετολογια, Monday, 12 August 2019 19:15 (six months ago) link
okay I think I will have to redownload this album since the Foster collab in fact appears to be "Nothing You Can Do About It" by the Manhattan Transfer. was really confused for a sec there.
but, judging by the other 9 songs...I think kreuzer is basically right, the middle section of this album is garbage. kinda reminds me of those late ELP albums where they were writing really bland adult contemporary ballads that wouldn't have worked even if his voice wasn't shot. it sounds like he's channeling Chris De Burgh on half of these tunes. I almost want to make vaporwave out of it.
"A Passing Ship" sorta falls into that too but I agree there's a much better actual tune there. idk if I really wanna hear it again.
"Morning Glory" was kinda nice
― frogbs, Tuesday, 13 August 2019 18:12 (six months ago) link
Back on our usual Thursday schedule...
Waiting For You - 1993
"Restless" – 3:36"Ring Them Bells" – 2:56 (Bob Dylan)"Fading Away" – 3:10"Only Love Would Know" – 4:18"Welcome to Try" – 4:03"I'll Prove My Love" – 3:10"Waiting for You" – 3:35"Wild Strawberries" – 4:17"I'd Rather Press On" – 3:43"Drink Yer Glasses Empty" – 3:16
Curious to see what happens on this album vs. his 80s ones. Haynes & Clements are back on bass & lead after not doing East of Midnight. Also the credits list is stripped back down to his basic core group. Feels like its going to be a back to basics sort of album.
― Will (kruezer2), Wednesday, 14 August 2019 16:20 (six months ago) link
not sure im gonna be able to go on the rest of this ride with gordo. last couple albums doing absolutely nothing for me.
― big city slam (Spottie), Wednesday, 14 August 2019 16:35 (six months ago) link
yeah I think Dream Street Rose was pretty good, better than Endless Wire but not as good as any of the ones before that
Shadows and Salute had moments but Gordo was just not made for the 80s
will be listening to this one in a bit (though uh...it is Wednesday isn't it?) - "Restless" was on the Greatest Hits disc I had and I remember liking that a lot, felt like the sort of tune that suited an aging Gordon Lightfoot well. kinda got me choked up, maybe just because it was the last song on the disc which implied it was basically the end of his career
― frogbs, Wednesday, 14 August 2019 16:54 (six months ago) link
haha, it sure is wednesday, i'm off friday and moved all my normal meetings earlier in the week by a day and i've apparently fallen into it completely.
yeah fair enough Spottie. I think as Gord's losing his voice it really makes these albums a slog. He's lost a lot of other skills sure but I really miss the voice most of all.
we're almost at the end (just two more after this) so I'll finish off with whoever wants to join for the last two just to be completest.
― Will (kruezer2), Wednesday, 14 August 2019 17:41 (six months ago) link
only two more ok i think i can do it, at least skip through the albums anyway. its been good tho ive discovered a ton.
― big city slam (Spottie), Wednesday, 14 August 2019 17:45 (six months ago) link
this one is definitely better than the last 3, mostly because it avoids all the 80s trappings and gets back to folk songs. the tempos still feel too quick for this sort of music ("I'd Rather Press On") but with the richness in his voice gone I guess it doesn't really matter. the title track and "Restless" are nice.
― frogbs, Wednesday, 14 August 2019 18:06 (six months ago) link
While I was listening to this one on spotify Daylight Katy came on after Drink Yer Glasses Empty and it didn't feel out of place. Now I like Daylight Katy well enough but I think that kinda shows the value of this albums. I agree with you frogbs on the title track and Restless. I like Drink Yer Glasses Empty most I think though.
His voice really struggles though, Ring Them Bells and Welcome to Try especially stood out for me in that regard, but the song writing is a huge step up from his 80s albums for sure. I listened to this one a few times over and didn't skip a song. I don't think that's happened since Endless Wire or Dream Street Rose. I didn't realize how much I missed his creative lyrics. Even on I'll Prove My Love, I don't cringe while listening like I did on A Lesson In Love for example.
The tasteful production is nice of course.
I think I'll come back to this one more.
― Will (kruezer2), Saturday, 24 August 2019 01:24 (six months ago) link
A Painter Passing Through
"Drifters" - 3:27"My Little Love" - 4:08"Ringneck Loon" - 4:14"I Used to Be a Country Singer" (Steve McEown) - 3:16"Boathouse" - 4:13"Much to My Surprise" - 3:42"A Painter Passing Through" - 3:55"On Yonge Street" - 4:27"Red Velvet" (Ian Tyson) - 2:37"Uncle Toad Said" - 3:29
Second last one. I only Drifters off this one.
― Will (kruezer2), Saturday, 24 August 2019 04:35 (six months ago) link
The lack of response here is telling. I thought this was known as his worst album, though RYM apparently thinks East of Midnight is worse. At this point his voice is just gone and I don't really feel anything from any of the tunes. He sounds okay when he doesn't have to sustain any notes but when he does you can really hear the age in his voice. There's clearly a lyrical theme of being past your prime on this album so I guess Gord was feeling it himself. I mean "Drifters" and "Painter" both come off as being auto-biographical and I feel like "Uncle Toad Said" is sorta poking fun of himself. Very much of a "life is winding down and I made lots of mistakes but have no regrets" sorta vibe here. I do like a few tunes here, particularly the Tyson cover and the title track, which I imagine might have sounded pretty nice if he wrote it 25 years before. The second half of this album is pleasant, there's more good stuff there than all of East of Midnight but that's not exactly a ringing endorsement.
― frogbs, Monday, 26 August 2019 18:43 (five months ago) link
Yeah this one is not doing much for me at all. Definitely a step down from Waiting For You. I think I'd take East of Midnight over it, just for A Passing Ship. This album has less horrible songs than East of Midnight though.
Ringneck Loon feels awkwardly delivered, Boathouse is really just boring.
I wouldn't turn off Much To My Suprise if it came on Adult Contemporary radio, probably the same for the title track. I kinda like On Yonge Street, but I'm sure thats just nostalgia from my own time living there. That's about all I can muster for this one.
― Will (kruezer2), Tuesday, 27 August 2019 14:50 (five months ago) link
Harmony - 2004
1."Harmony" – 3:112."River of Light" – 3:483."Flyin' Blind" – 2:494."No Mistake About It" – 4:035."End of All Time" – 3:416."Shellfish" – 3:457."The No Hotel" – 5:548."Inspiration Lady" – 3:089."Clouds of Loneliness" – 2:5210."Couchiching" – 3:2011."Sometimes I Wish" – 3:37
― Will (kruezer2), Friday, 30 August 2019 16:43 (five months ago) link
looks like its just you and me now, bud.
Unlike all the other post-Endless Wire albums, I actually do know this one. It came out when I was really getting into Gord (though a greatest hits) and I figured I'd buy a copy out of respect (admittedly, I was pretty stunned when he actually started singing). As you might know he had some pretty severe heart issues around this time and there were rumors swirling around that he was on death's door. If I recall correctly a lot of the album was written & arranged from the hospital. As a result the critics were a lot easier on this one, although I think it really is one of his better post-70s efforts. The melodies here are actually pretty memorable, in fact I still remember how a lot of these go. The instrumentation is super mild but it sounds pretty good as a whole. I like the keyboard line on "No Hotel" a lot.
Granted his voice sorta ruins this thing, he sounds a lot like the various grandpa characters on the cartoons I used to watch as a kid. But a year removed from surgery you get a pass for that, especially if you saw the photos of him from that time, he looked like he weighed about 80 pounds (though to be fair I believe all the vocals outside of the live tracks were taken from pre-surgery demos). It's kind of hard to divorce the album from its context, particularly when it's got lines like "I won't be looking up old friends ever again" on it. A lot of these songs have a "ready to die" them to them which gives tunes like "End of All Time" & "Shellfish" a real emotional punch.
I'm surprised that this turned out to be his last album (unless he suddenly decides to make another one at the age of 80). Maybe they weren't selling or he just got sick of writing songs but he seems to be on more of a creative streak here than he was over, I dunno, the last two decades.
― frogbs, Friday, 30 August 2019 19:25 (five months ago) link
TS: Couchiching - Gordon Lightfoot vs. Ch Ching - Lady Sovereign
― Ρεμπετολογια, Friday, 30 August 2019 23:55 (five months ago) link
This one was a nice listen, nice to wrap up on something that's not terrible. I especially liked Inspiration Lady thru Sometimes I Wish.
His voice is really bad at this point, sounds like what I remember from him in concert, the drop from A Painter Passing Through is really noticeable but I agree that this is a stronger collection of songs. I think if I consider Salute the beginning of his real tailspin, this one and Waiting For You are his best two overall albums of his final 5. It is really an emotional listen though, I wonder sometimes if he doesn't write another album 'cause he already wrote what he thought was his last album and assumed he wasn't gonna make it out the other side of his illness at the time. Couchiching/Sometimes I Wish feel a lot like a final here's to my hometown and here's my final take on life sort of songs.
Thanks for joining frogbs, and everyone else, found or rediscovered a boatload (heh) of great songs. I'll post a bunch of my favourites and some comments on them in time, just trying to hit another writing deadline so trying not to split my focus right now. Would be cool to here the same from anyone else that wants to post their's.
― Will (kruezer2), Thursday, 5 September 2019 13:59 (five months ago) link
Amazon has Gordon Lightfoot The Complete Albums 1970-1998 for download for $7.99 -- "Sit Down Young Stranger" through "A Painter Passing Through"
― jana m, Sunday, 17 November 2019 13:22 (three months ago) link
Robbie Fulks takes on Gordon Lightfoot's catalog and is crushingly OTM .
― Ρεμπετολογια, Saturday, 25 January 2020 23:08 (four weeks ago) link
that piece is *fantastic*, thanks for sharing
― bold caucasian eroticism (Simon H.), Sunday, 26 January 2020 00:28 (four weeks ago) link
Robbie Fulks may be my favourite music writer. His tour diaries and essays on his website are just such a pleasure to read and explain the vocation of being a songwriter/performer so succinctly .
― Ρεμπετολογια, Sunday, 26 January 2020 03:18 (four weeks ago) link
Wow, I will read everything that guy writes, that was fantastic
― Montegays and Capulez (flamboyant goon tie included), Sunday, 26 January 2020 03:24 (four weeks ago) link
yeah, that was so good I actually want to check out *his* music!
― bold caucasian eroticism (Simon H.), Sunday, 26 January 2020 04:43 (four weeks ago) link
nothing to add, just echoing the other comments. that was a really great read.
― frogbs, Tuesday, 28 January 2020 15:21 (three 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 (three 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 (three weeks ago) link