June 11, 2014

My brother Mark and I discovered Gordon Lightfoot back in the early ’70s following the release of his big hit Sundown. After that, along with The Beach Boys and Pink Floyd, Gord (we always called him that, as if he were an old familiar friend) got quite a bit of play on the 8-track player we had hooked up inside the glove compartment of my 1969 Pontiac Tempest. While his music seemed (at least to me) more fitting for the fall and winter seasons, on our late-night drives back home from trips up to Boston’s North Shore and our favorite sea wall in Nahant, Mass. we’d often pop Gord’s Cold On The Shoulder or Summertime Dream into the player and we’d just listen in silence as the miles home passed by. As ocean lovers, we were especially attracted to any songs Gord did about the sea, and as Newfies by heritage I think we always felt a kinship with Gord as a fellow Canadian songwriter.

Even though Mark’s taste in music changed after he joined the Army in 1977, I still collected Gord’s music for several years after that, up until his fine 1980 release Dream Street Rose. After that, Gord and I kind of went our separate ways – he was exploring more adult contemporary themes in releases like Shadows and East of Midnight, and I had moved out on my own and had gotten into an eclectic mix of Fleetwood Mac, The Ramones, Scott Joplin, and all kinds of blues and jazz.

But even at that I never totally lost track of Gord – we briefly re-connected in the early ’80s when I used the words from the chorus of “The Circle Is Small“, a fave tune from his 1978 release Endless Wire to break up with a girlfriend at the time who I knew was cheating on me.

I can see it in your eyes and feel it in the way you kiss my lips
I can hear it in your voice whenever we are talking like this
I can see what you believe in when his name is mentioned and I die
I can watch the way you walk, the way you talk, the way you close your eyes

Gord was also present when Tracey and I asked one of my softball team mates to play his ballad “Beautiful” at our wedding, and a couple of years after that, (now the late ’80s), I actually got to see Gord live in concert in Rhode Island with my old departed Goodboys friend “Doc” Frechette (a big Gord fan in his own right). But after that, that was about it for a long, long time.

I’m not sure how and when Gord and I we re-connected, actually. I do know it was the result of some very late-night perusing through all kinds of YouTube videos and coming upon “Daylight Katy“, another fave tune from Endless Wire. There was just something about his voice and that moody melody that got me thinking about Mark and how much we loved Gord’s music during the years we hung around together, so I began to build a Gord collection to go along with my surf, Sandals, Beach Boys, Tropical Breezes, and Exotica collections.

And it feels good. And it’s not just dusty and for sentimental reasons, since my collection includes several releases before and after those “formative years” of familiar albums and tunes. Just for the record, here are the releases that presently comprise my Gord collection:

Don Quixote (1972)
Old Dan’s Records (1972)
Sundown (1974)
Cold on the Shoulder (1975)
Summertime Dream (1976)
Endless Wire (1978)
Dream Street Rose (1980)
Shadows (1982)
Salute (1983)
East of Midnight (1986)

The releases prior to Sundown lean more towards the folk side of things; those after Dream Street Rose more towards a full, adult contemporary sound, but it’s all Gord so it’s all good. And that’s not all he has done by any means – there are earlier albums and later releases worth checking into somewhere down the line. Put the collection on shuffle, and its amazing to hear the wide variety of tunes, subject matter, and arrangements he has been able to do over the years without it sounding the least bit repetitive. If you like good music, you might want to consider your own stroll through Gord’s catalogue.

Thanks, Gord, for the tunes and the memories – the music of your life is also, to a certain extent, the music of mine as well.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 23:00 | Comments (0)
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