Richard Hogan - Circus
When the dust had settled upon the pockmarked plains of the Canadian
Folk Invasion, Gordon Lightfoot shouldered his 12-string and rode
away. He was the only real contender to survive, a lively
combination of the woodsy
Ian and Sylvia sound, the sure-fire attack of the Kingston Trio, and
writing flair of a Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in Tin Pan Alley.
more, his twisted love songs like "I'm Not Sayin'" expressed an
you could call masochismo: Lightfoot had melody, poetry, plus the rough
of James Dean in a rodeo role. The boots were leather but
doe-eyed face begged for abuse. With Lightfoot's drive and
backing, how could he miss?
Lightfoot generally has done well by his record company, which has
allowed him in the course of nine albums to pool his studio skills with
those of Randy
Newman, Van Dyke Parks, John Sebastien and Ry Cooder. On stage
and his band may come across like Gordon and the Denim Mounties, but in
studio there's a slick assurance which nearly obscures the writer's
compositions. The ambitious production of "Endless Wire" makes
record sound so good the song topics can slip by your ears. Lead
guitar...prominent drums...even keyboards which, combined with
rhythm guitar-as-autoharp, seem to chime like a carillon. It's
very controlled and it'll be great on the radio, but sound-baskers
overlook the desperate, introspective words and mood-swing musical
by a Paperback Cowboy whose career trail has no more Pike's Peaks to
Lightfoot's turned his eyes and his conscience around on himself.
husky voice tells of a marriage gone sour, the kids in school overseas,
of nights spent drinking and, he'd have us believe, wenching till
and of the dreams which link these strands of experience into a jumble
fragmentary images. Just as Lightfoot's public persona is a
of pose and character, the strolling layers in his verses often can't
living from sleepwalking. They inhabit songs with titles like
"Daylight Katy" lives nine lives in her midnight world."
In the sleeve photo Lightfoot wears smoked glasses, as if to cover the
his eyes can't disguise. His lyrical expressions of
sexuality wear the disguise of cryptic sea-images. This haunted
may really be the tormented narrator of "Endless Wire", confronted
with a chance for love:
Down in the dark of a burnt-out soul
There's a few good secondhand dreams
Deep in the dark of a heavenly night...
Where the sea runs green.
Then again, he may really be the glib Gordon Meredith Lightfoot, hired
to the mass modern court.
Or maybe he's both.