This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.
Sorry, I'm indulging myself this week (yet again) because I've already done a column on GORDON LIGHTFOOT, but he's such a favorite of mine that I think he deserves another.
You could say that I used up all his best songs on the first column but I would disagree - he's written so many terrific ones there's more than enough for another (and probably more).
In the first column it was a toss-up which of his first two big hits I would include. The one that missed out is For Lovin' Me, so that's the one we'll kick off with today.
This came to my notice because of cover versions by Peter, Paul and Mary and Ian and Sylvia (and many others later). Naturally, I think Gordie does it best. He recorded it a few times over the years but this version is the first time he put it on record.
Gordie wrote a number of songs about life on the road. He wasn't alone in that regard. Probably the best of them was 10 Degrees and Getting Colder that I featured in the first column. Not far behind that one is Somewhere USA.
From early in his career is a song about lost love; he was a master of that sort of song. This one really nails as far as I'm concerned but you know he doesn't really mean it (I think). I'll Be Alright.
I managed to get a seat in the front row of a couple of his concerts. Naturally, along with others, I asked for a song. I was the only one to whom he replied. He said he wouldn't play it (in rather emphatic terms). That song is Mountains and Marian.
A song that just missed the cut in the first column pretty much by the toss of a coin is the next one. Naturally it had to be included this time, and here it is: Never Too Close. It is about friends and lovers who are sometimes the same person. A beautiful song.
The album “Don Quixote” is one of the two or three finest albums that Gordie recorded - there's not a dud song on it. Of course, there's seldom a dud song anywhere, but these are a cut above most of the others.
The songs range far and wide: love, lost love (of course), the environment (ahead of its time), ships and the sea, Canada and even a rare protest song. From that album, here is the title track, which really fits none of the genres I mentioned.
I've always thought that Rainy Day People is a companion song to Never Too Close. I don't know if Gordie meant it that way, but it seems to me that he's singing about the same people.
Of his first dozen or so albums, "Back Here on Earth" is probably the least regarded. Of course, even an ordinary Gordie album is worth a listen now and then. I have to admit though that the song Bitter Green is the only song from that I listen to with any regularity.
One of the best break-up songs, maybe the best (although there's a lot of competition), is Second Cup of Coffee. It's also a really good song about life on the road and the distractions that that life holds.
Miguel is a rather enigmatic song. Different people have quite varied ideas about it. Is Miguel a revolutionary, or just a bandit? Perhaps an illegal immigrant, although crossing the border a hundred times or more may put paid that to that idea. Maybe he just likes swimming. Make up your own mind.
I was going to stop there, but I can't help myself. I'm including a song I used in the first column because it's so beautiful, and check out that wonderful walking bass line.
It continues the theme of Never Too Close to my mind. The song is I'm Not Supposed to Care.