Gordon Lightfoot (1938-2023)

Last night as I was flipping through notifications before sleep, I saw the sad news from the New York Times that Gordon Lightfoot had passed away at 84.

My first recollection of his music was hearing Sundown in 1974. “I can see her lying back in her satin dress . . . .” The opening to that song was unlike anything I heard on the radio that summer. That was a summer of memories and music and sadness that would forever change my life as I lost my Dad in August and then my brother Dennis seemingly disappeared from the face of the earth. No, he’s not missing; he just tends to not want to be found. But I’ll remember him playing Gordon Lightfoot songs on his guitar. If You Could Read My Mind.

I became a Gordon Lightfoot fan after Sundown and spent hours binging on his music. Even now, I can sing so many of his songs from memory: “There’s a house/on a hill/by a worn-down weathered old mill . . .”. I delighted to hear Sarah McLachlan do an exquisite cover of his Song For A Winter’s Night. And now, as I listen to her sing, I get shivers down my spine. Such a beautiful piece of music. (Hear the version by a very young Gordon here.)

On Sunday as I was searching for songs for my A to Z challenge, I came upon Last Time I Saw Her, which I wrote a flash fiction piece for after stating that it was one of his prettiest songs ever. But he wrote so many beautiful songs, some you’ve probably even heard perhaps not sung by him but by Glen Campbell, Elvis Presley, Eva Cassidy, Peter, Paul, and Mary. Bob Dylan once called Lightfoot his favorite songwriter. He was definitely one of mine.

Billboard provided a list of what they considered ten of Gordon Lightfoot’s best songs. Personally I’d find it very difficult to make that list, especially considering that they left out classics like Early Morning Rain and Canadian Railroad Trilogy, which is an astounding and complicated piece of songwriting that has key and tempo changes that emphasize it being a trilogy. Give it a listen.

If you are a music lover and have never listened to Gordon Lightfoot’s music, take a few minutes to immerse yourself in a humble singer/songwriter who was still performing up to the time of his death.

If you’re a fan, what is your favorite song?

RIP Gordon Lightfoot (1938-2023), you were a gift to all of us music lovers.


14 thoughts on “Gordon Lightfoot (1938-2023)

  1. A gift, indeed. 🎶 One of the best and a favorite, with so many great songs. RIP Gordon Lightfoot. 🙏

  2. He was such a talent. Songs like the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald and the railroad trilogy are history set to music. Brilliant. May he rest in peace.I will never forget his songs.

  3. You beat me to it! I was getting ready to post something about GL on FB. I saw him in concert many years ago when he came to Anchorage. Favorite song? Not sure. I will have to go through my albums (yep, albums) but If you could read my mind might be a contender. He has one song I remember from an album called “Cotton Jenny” that I like a lot as well.

    1. Yes, Cotton Jenny. The phrases I highlighted above were from that song. So many good ones. And, yes, I once had several of his albums, but they didn’t follow me through my moves. 😞

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