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acoustic guitar Arts & Entertainment folk music music

If You Could Read My Mind


I’m watching an interesting film titled “If You Could Read My Mind.” The Canadian documentary is about the life and career of Gordon Lightfoot.

Lightfoot arrived in downtown Toronto as a young man after growing up in Oridella, a small rural Canadian town. Since there were no clubs to play in at the time, Gordon landed a job in a bank to earn a living. Lightfoot was about to earn a promotion when he told his manager that he had decided to leave the bank to accept a role as an extra on a square dancing Canadian TV show. Lightfoot’s manager found it hard to believe that the young man was leaving a good job with a future to go square dancing.

As folk music became commercially viable in the late sixties, clubs began to spring up featuring promising musicians. Gordon landed a spot in one of them. He stood apart from the crowd because he performed many of his own songs in a characteristically pure voice. After he developed a following, a club owner invited Lightfoot to perform at his club across the street at twice the salary. Lightfoot gratefully accepted the invitation to perform at the Riverboat, Toronto’s premier folk music club.

With his beautiful voice and prolific outpouring of quality music, it was only a matter of time before Warner/Reprise records rewarded Lightfoot with a one million dollar recording contract, an unheard-of number for a Canadian singer. His first album with the new label was released in 1970 when Gordon was forty-two. Lightfoot had left United Artists after five albums because he felt they did not represent him adequately. “Sit Down Young Stranger” shipped 80,000 copies before sales stopped dead. The album “had no legs” in the industry’s parlance. Warner changed the name of the album and picked a new single to lead it off. “If You Could Read My Mind” became a runaway hit when an announcer on an important local radio station kept playing it. Sales of the album ballooned to 650,000 copies. The rest is history.

Here’s my cover of the song.

Gordon Lightfoot is not a “legend in his own mind” as Dirty Harry said about the perp he was about to blow away. Lightfoot is a genuine “legend in his own time.” He has been performing live well into his seventies and beyond. It is said that time waits for no man. Time may have made an exception in Mr. Lighfoot’s case.

By David Gittlin

I’ve written three feature length screenplays, produced two short films, and published three novels. Before quitting my day job, I spent more than thirty years as a marketing director building expertise in advertising, copy writing, corporate communications, collateral sales materials, website content/design and online marketing.

For more information about my novels, please visit www.davidgittlin.com

10 replies on “If You Could Read My Mind”

To tell the truth, I really like watching films and I always try to open new ones for myself. I think that documentaries are a special kind of art because it is so difficult to reveal the life of a famous and outstanding person, presenting this in a fascinating format. After reading your article, I came to the conclusion that Gordon Lightfoot was a really versatile and talented person who was able to make his unique contribution to the music industry. I think that he came such a long way to achieve success and find his true vocation. From my point of view, his purposefulness and love for music played a huge role in his way of achieving a goal. It is difficult to deny the fact that Gordon Lightfoot has a highlight and huge dedication to his business, implementing it maximally professionally. The song «If You Could Read My Mind» has an absolutely unique concept and sense, charming by its wonderful presentation.

Liked by 1 person

Thanks for stopping by, Marina. The project of researching Gordon’s song and learning to play it the way that he does was fun and satisfying for me. The lyrics took on an entirely new dimension when I studied them closely. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

Liked by 1 person

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