Well, yesterday did not exactly as I had planned for reasons that I’m not ready to announce publicly yet. Let’s just say that there is potentially going to be a lot of record listening in my future. And seeing as how I didn’t get around to my Canada Day vinyl listens yesterday, HRH are getting to that today in our effort to stay out of the ungodly heat and humidity outside today, beginning with this ‘If You Could Read My Mind‘ album by Gordon Lightfoot.
Really, you could have no better start for dedicated Canadiana listening.
Originally released as ‘Sit Down Young Stranger‘ in the summer of 1970, this album was reissued under this name a few months later, as the song ‘If You Could Read My Mind‘ began its climb up the pop chart (the single peaked at #5, while the album reached #12).
It seemed as though ‘If You Could Read My Mind‘ was everywhere in the early months of 1971. Shit, even in the mid 70’s as a kid, I remember it being played on the AM radio in my parents Bonneville practically every time we turned it on.
It’s appeal crossed genres and age groups, and its simplicity and acoustic arrangement fit in nicely with the burgeoning singer/songwriter scene then storming the airwaves and record stores. ‘If You Could Read My Mind‘ was not the first track released as a single from this album; Lightfoot’s recording of Kris Kristofferson’s soon-to-be-classic ‘Me and Bobby McGee‘, the only non-original in this collection, preceded it but barely dented the charts.
The entire album is rich in the simple beauty of its folky melodies and personal lyrics. Lightfoot is accompanied here by his regular band of the time, Red Shea on guitar and Rick Haynes on bass. This trio is expanded on several cuts with Warner/Reprise labelmates Ry Cooder on bottleneck guitar and mandolin, John Sebastian on autoharp, harmonica, and electric guitar, and Van Dyke Parks on harmonium. In addition, there are subtle string arrangements by Randy Newman on two tracks, Nick DeCaro on three. This album fits in very well with the acoustic-based music being made at the turn of the 70’s. Even so, the music here is timeless, still feeling and sounding great many years after its release.
A good beginning as any to today’s make-up Canada Day vinyl celebrations.