The mid 70’s were good times for Gordon Lightfoot. He had written many songs that he and other artists took to number 1. In 1975, after 10 studio albums he released Gord’s Gold, a 21 song greatest hits package that included many of his best songs. In hindsight, he would sell many more albums after this, but only a few songs would ever be as popular as the ones on this album.
Songs 1-9 were re-recorded for this album. Gordon said it was because he did not like how his early songs sounded. I wonder if it was because he would not have to pay royalties to his old record label.
Of these early songs, 2 stand out for me.
Canadian Railroad Trilogy – This song represents early Canada for me. Like Stompin’ Tom Connors, Gordon is proud of his country and has no problem telling you that in song.
Early Morning Rain – The quiet acoustic guitar blends wonderfully with Gord’s beautiful voice. The lyrics are of missing loved ones. I can imagine Gord wrote those during long stretches away from home during tours.
The remaining songs on the album are mostly all amazing so I will highlight the majority of them.
Sundown – The bass is awesome on this song. Also Gord’s voice is wonderful and the background vocals are great. Also the lyrics are top notch. “Sundown. You better take care. If I find you’ve been creeping ’round my back stairs. Sometimes I think it’s a sin. When I feel like I’m winning when I’m losing again.” This song was apparently about his then girlfriend Cathy Smith (who later went on to be involved with John Belushi’s death). Gordon was quoted assaying Cathy was “the one woman who most hurt me.”
Summer Side Of Life – The vocal harmonies and background singers really set this one apart from most of Gordon`s songs. The guitar playing is pretty cool too.
Rainy Day People – The steel guitar is the hero for me on this one. It is like an old school country song mixed with a Jimmy Buffet song.
Cotton Jenny – This song may be best known as an Anne Murray song, but it was written and performed a year earlier by Gordon Lightfoot. Such a happy go lucky song. Gordon must have been in a great place in his life when he wrote this. Of note for me is the great harmonica playing and the awesome enunciation. It reminds me of Buddy Holly when he sang Peggy Sue Hoo Hoo.
Don Qixote – The mandolin is the star for me. No wonder. It is played by none other than Ry Cooder.
Circle Of Steel – The recorder and dobro playing are the stars for me on this one.
Old Dan`s Records – The bass, dobro and guitar playing is awesome, and it`s a song about bringing out records, so I`m in like Flynn.
If You Could Read My Mind – This was Gordon`s first song to reach the American Charts. Gordon was going through a divorce during the writing in this song, and the lyrics may be his best. I would have to quote the entire song as it is so good. Also, the string arrangements are beautiful and Ry Cooder plays guitar and mandolin.
Cold On The Shoulder – His enunciation is the star for me here. He has an almost out East dialect. The bass, guitar and background lyrics are great as well.
Carefree Highway – Gordon`s voice is in peak form here. This may his best vocals of all time. A song about life on the road and how he neglected the woman he left behind. “The morning after blues. From my head down to my shoes. Carefree Highway. Let me slip away. Slip away on you.”
This is an awesome compilation. I would only substitute 1 song that was omitted Me And Bobby Mcgee. Gordon sang this song before Kris Kristofferson and Janis Joplin.
This will appeal to fans of Kris Kristofferson, Bob Dylan, Ry Cooder, Johnny Cash, Jimmy Buffet, Ian & Sylvia.