What a tale your thoughts could tell

It’s certainly one of his most personal songs, about the breakup of his marriage, and he said it came to him one summer while languishing in his empty house in Toronto.  It has also become one of the most covered numbers in popular music history, including recordings by Johnny Cash, Barbra Streisand, Don McLean, Olivia Newton-John, Petula Clark, Kenny Rogers, Liza Minnelli, etc.…then there are the disco versions.

Born in Orillia, near Ontario’s Lake Simcoe in 1938 and long hailed as Canada’s greatest songwriter, Gordon Meredith Lightfoot, Jr. is a man who has remained true to his Canadian roots, residing there to this day.  In a career spanning over half a century, and despite nearly dying from an abdominal aortic aneurysm in 2002 that left him in a coma for six weeks, he has released dozens of albums and still continues to perform.

Although many a young wanderer shivering “cold on the shoulder” in “the early morning rain” on a not-so “carefree highway,” has Gordon Lightfoot to thank for that abiding tune strumming through his or her head, this, his first recording to appear on the Billboard Charts, was very much a surprise hit.

First included on his 1970 album, “Sit Down Young Stranger” it reached Number 5 in the US, Number 30 in the UK and was his first Number 1 hit in Canada.  Recognizing an opportunity, the record label quickly made it the album’s cover song, and the LP was, of course, renamed to… “If You Could Read My Mind”

 LISTEN TO THIS SELECTION – Monday 14 January

If You Could Read My Mind

 If you could read my mind, love

What a tale my thoughts could tell

Just like an old time movie

‘Bout a ghost from a wishing well

In a castle dark or a fortress strong

With chains upon my feet

You know that ghost is me

And I will never be set free

As long as I’m a ghost that you can’t see

 If I could read your mind, love

What a tale your thoughts could tell

Just like a paperback novel

The kind the drugstores sell

When you reach the part where the heartaches come

The hero would be me

But heroes often fail

And you won’t read that book again

Because the ending’s just too hard to take

I walk away like a movie star

Who gets burned in a three-way script

Enter number two:

A movie queen to play the scene

Of bringing all the good things out in me

But for now, love, let’s be real

I never thought I could act this way

And I’ve got to say that I just don’t get it

I don’t know where we went wrong

But the feeling’s gone

And I just can’t get it back

 If you could read my mind, love

What a tale my thoughts could tell

Just like an old time movie

‘Bout a ghost from a wishing well

In a castle dark or a fortress strong

With chains upon my feet

But stories always end

And if you read between the lines

You’ll know that I’m just tryin’ to understand

The feelings that you lack

I never thought I could feel this way

And I’ve got to say that I just don’t get it

I don’t know where we went wrong

But the feelings gone

And I just can’t get it back

 

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