I finally caught the Gordon Lightfoot – “If You Could Read My Mind” on a Sunday morning the end of January 2021. I’ve been meaning to watch it for at least a year or more and haven’t had the time to do so, but it was well worth it once I was able to catch it. It brought back many memories and gave me the advice from years ago, “Sundown, you better take care.”
Gordon Lightfoot’s music has been in and around my life and musical sphere for as long as I can remember. I don’t really trace it back to one certain instance, but I probably recollect “If You Could Read My Mind” being the first song there.
Having had the chance to know and tour with super-underrated Country Legend George Hamilton IV, I got to know a ton more of the deep catalog of Lightfoot. The Fourth had major country chart success with albums full of Lightfoot songs, in particular the awesome, and monumentally influential on me, “Early Mornin’ Rain,” a gale force of a song that is covered in the documentary. The Fourth was such a huge fan, and I had many a car trip with him where we talked about Lightfoot and Bob Dylan’s influence on both of us.
The movie traces Gordon’s humble beginnings to his rise on the folk scene in Toronto to legendary status. I’ve already mentioned Early Morning, but “If You Could Read My Mind,” “Sundown,” and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” are just a few of the timeless classics featured here.
Even more than the songs, this documentary puts Gordon Lightfoot the man front and center. He’s honest about his personal failings and humble in a way that most superstars are not. In the early part of film he speaks about how much he admires hip bop artist and Toronto native Drake. Lightfoot lays bare the instances when addiction and infidelity wreaked havoc on him and his family. He’s not afraid to address and admit the way that he hurt people. I admire him for the responsibility that he takes.
The film wraps with a scene of Lightfoot playing at Toronto’s venerable Massey Hall prior to it closing for renovations. You can tell the way that he admires his audience and his audience admires him. It’s a connection that any performing artist can relate to. The give and take is the relationship that and the high that keeps performing fun.
Here’s to Gordon’s Future
Gordon Lightfoot keeps on keeping on and his songs continue to resonant today. He made me want to pick up my 12-string and work on the chords for “Sundown” immediately. May he continue to be a guiding force for us all. I highly recommend you stream the Gordon Lightfoot Documentary – If You Could Read My Mind as soon as you can. You won’t be disappointed.