by Wayne Francis

In conversation with Skip Weshner on radio in LA after the release of Sit Down Young Stranger in 1970, Lightfoot seems to be strongly leaning toward an album of cover songs as his next record for Warner Brothers. He performs a beautiful interpretation of Elton John's "Your Song" as an example of some of the material he finds very tempting to record. The album never did materialize, but I find it interesting that as he approaches the height of his songwriting and recording prowess he seems more drawn toward recording covers than at any other time in his recorded career.

He released Me And Bobby McGee in 1970 and On Susan's Floor in 1972, but during that period he also recorded 33rd Of August by Mickey Newbury in 1969,  Loving Her Was Easier by Kristofferson during the Summer Side Of Life sessions and Hoyt Axton's Snow Blind Friend during the Don Quixote sessions. Taken together with his "Your Song" performance and comments on LA radio in 1970 it is quite obvious that a cover album was very much a serious option for him at the time.

And these covers that did not make it on to albums, were recorded and given the full studio treatment, that is, they weren't merely being used as warm ups in the studio, but were given multiple takes and full arrangements. All of these cover out-takes I mentioned here were given strong consideration for release on the Rhino Songbook boxset in 1999, until ultimately Lightfoot decided he wanted all original material on the boxset, which I suppose was fitting, as I'm sure in the end, that identical thinking would be the primary reason for their not being included on the originl albums they were recorded for in the first place!

At any rate, I find this all to be a fascinating insight into Lightfoot's thought process in his role as a recording artist in the early 70's.