Kelly and I enjoyed a fun Date Night last night in Niagara Falls attending David Rocco’s ‘Tastes in Niagara‘ five course meal, some free champagne and night at the Four Point Sheraton and – get this – I slept in to 10:00am! Really. This afternoon however it was back to the grindstone beginning with a 3250m strength swim and a 71.25k time trial ride through soul-crushing headwinds later on. Now, however, I’m back in the EZ-Boy with a burger and this ‘Sundown‘ album by Gordon Lightfoot.
To be brutally honest, I’ve never seen the huge fuss regarding Canada’s folk golden boy. Sure he’s great n’ all but as a Canadian, you can only hear so much Gordon Lightfoot on the radio before you’re like, yeah, I’m good. I bet the Aussie’s feel the same way about Rolf Harris, or the way that Puerto Ricans feel about Ricky Martin.
Anyway, A few months ago I heard the title track from this album on an episode of The Blacklist (Season 4, Episode 18) and I was all, yeah, I jes gotz to get me that album. It had this spooky, almost dark context to it that I had never recognized before.
It was awesome so it immediately went on my “To Find” list.
Sure this song is ingrained in the memory of anyone with an A.M. radio in the ’70s, but 20 years later, it sounds suggestive, even bluesy.
Now fast forward four weeks and I’m browsing the booths at the St. Catharines Flea Market and a vendor tells me that I can have anything in a certain box for free. Who can resist an offer like that?
Of course, most stuff in the box was total crap but I did find three Gordon Lightfoot albums; this one included. The covers were well worn and the records themselves were filthy. I opted to take the chance and try my hand at cleaning them up to see if they played okay. I mean, the price was definitely right so what could it hurt?
Fortunately, it plays awesome.
This album is Lightfoot’s 10th, released in 1974 on the Reprise Records label. It reached #1 in the US on the pop chart, the only album of his to achieve this. Here in Canada, it topped the RPM 100 for five consecutive weeks, first hitting #1 on June 22, 1974, the same day it reached the top on the south of the border. The album marked the pinnacle of Lightfoot’s acoustic folk-country blend before he embarked on an increasing use of electronic instruments, although he did include some electric guitar, notably on the title track.
And while I picked the album solely for the tune ‘Sundown‘, that’s not the only track that kicks ass on it. ‘Carefree Highway‘ is another great tune which ended up reaching #10 on the pop chart, #1 on the AC chart and #81 on the country chart. Other tracks worthy of mention even though they aren’t like to appear on any Greatest Hits compilation are ‘The Watchman’s Gone‘ and ‘Seven Island Suite‘.
While the album wasn’t necessarily Lightfoot’s breakthrough recording, but it was both a demonstration of the rocking electric turn most folkies would make after Dylan‘s revolution, and a commercially successful marriage of soulful, R&B sensibility with folk narratives.
All the better because it was free.