HERE ON EARTH
In the spring of 1968 Lightfoot released his most highly produced and
orchestrated album up until that time, Did She Mention My Name.
By the fall of the
same year he was back with another new album, this time preferring to
with just two guitars and bass, creating a remarkably different album
its predecessor. The new album was appropriately titled - Back
On Earth. (Interestingly, many years later after his most highly
album ever, East Of Midnight, he followed it with another back to
effort, Waiting for You, although instead of a seven month gap between
these two would be a full seven years apart!)
During the summer of '68 Lightfoot had travelled to England on a
Things got off to a good start. As the plane flew over the
countryside approaching London, Lightfoot got the inspiration for
Green. He wrote the song later that same day back at his
He continued to write a song a day while travelling by train to
He would write on the train, get off and go to a hotel for the night
continue writing. By the time he returned to Canada he had enough
to do a new album. And many of the songs retained that English
from whence they came, Marie Christine, Long Way Back Home, If I Could
Bitter Green being prime examples.
So how would these new songs be recorded? Red Shea suggested going to
Nashville because they "really know how to get a good acoustic guitar
sound down there."
That's all Lightfoot needed to hear and instead of New York where the
album was done, it was off to Nashville. Recording an album for
first time utilizing only his touring band, this was Lightfoot in the
The songs were very strong and the performances were stellar.
urban setting of Cold Hands From New York, The Circle Is Small and
On Eighth Avenue (written about a German girl who was a waitress at the
club in New York) to the highways of Long Thin Dawn, the carnival
of The Gypsy, the ever present sea song - Marie Christine and the
poetic If I Could, a forerunner of Don Quixote perhaps?
And within his own poem that graces the album, lie in his own words,
perhaps his reason for doing what he's been compelled to do all the
years before and
since - "I see the poet as a word prophet, a dealer in songs and
phrases, of whistful melodies and subtle warnings, passing his nights
in lonliness, tormented by blank pages, which cry out with dying breath
to be filled with
the secrets of his heart ... I see him walking quietly unnoticed,
the ghettos of our cities, across the rolling countryside ... I see him
his rest at truckstops and sleezy hotels, in worksheds and warehouses,
docks and shipyards and cabins upon mountainsides."
Yet again we find Lightfoot waxing with quixotic eloquence and laying
out for us - and himself, the path that lay ahead. It has been,
and is, a great ride!