LISTENING IN: Gordon the great

It was only a stray line in the paper recently, but it hit like hammer: Gordon Lightfoot was performing at a small venue in Oakville, Ont. on the weekend. To be sure, the iconic Canadian singer-songwriter hasn’t been entirely out of the news in recent years, but the about-to-be 84-year-old (Nov. 17) is still going strong filled me with delight.

Indeed, Lightfoot was once declared dead in an infamous 2010 hoax perpetrated on Twitter.

Considered by many to be Canada’s greatest songwriter, Orillia, Ontario-born Lightfoot helped define the folk-pop sound of the 1960s and ‘70s, also scoring on the country charts.

Countless hits like the heart-rending “If You Could Read My Mind,” “Canadian Railroad Trilogy,” “That’s What You Get for Loving Me,” “Carefree Highway,” “Rainy Day People,” and, of course, the incomparable “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” – The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down/ Of the big lake they call ‘Gitche Gumee’/ The lake it is said, never gives up her dead/ When the skies of November turn gloomy – read like a quintessential Canadian playbook.

No wonder then that Gordon the Great has been inducted into the Canadian Music and Country halls of fames and into Canada’s Walk of Fame, received the Order of Canada, and even put on a stamp (along with Anne Murray, Paul Anka, and Joni Mitchell).

South of the border, he has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in a New York City and a movement exists to have him recognized in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

If you’re wondering, I haven’t forgotten his sensational No. 1 hit “Sundown” – the first song Lightfoot song I remember hearing – which we present here (from 1974, the year it was released):

Lyrics

I can see her lyin’ back in her satin dress
In a room where ya do what ya don’t confess
Sundown ya better take care
If I find you been creepin’ ’round my back stairs
Sundown ya better take care
If I find you been creepin’ ’round my back stairs
She’s been lookin’ like a queen in a sailor’s dream
And she don’t always say what she really means
Sometimes I think it’s a shame
When I get feelin’ better when I’m feelin’ no pain
Sometimes I think it’s a shame
When I get feelin’ better when I’m feelin’ no pain

I can picture every move that a man could make
Getting lost in her lovin’ is your first mistake
Sundown ya better take care
If I find you been creepin’ ’round my back stairs
Sometimes I think it’s a sin
When I feel like I’m winnin’ when I’m losin again

I can see her lookin’ fast in her faded jeans
She’s a hard lovin’ woman, got me feelin’ mean
Sometimes I think it’s a shame
When I get feelin’ better when I’m feelin’ no pain
Sundown ya better take care
If I find you been creepin’ ’round my back stairs
Sundown ya better take care
If I find you been creepin’ ’round my back stairs
Sometimes I think it’s a sin
When I feel like I’m winnin’ when I’m losin’ again

First published at Travel Industry Today