A Word From Gordon Lightfoot
In 1962 I recorded the first two songs burned onto this anthology. Those two, and a few others less likely, were recorded in Nashville with a group of handpicked musicians. I came out of the sessions sounding like a cross between Jim Reeves and Pat Boone. Deciding not to follow that route, I chose to gamble on the folk
revival of the early '60s and began working in bars and coffeehouses. By 1966 I had found a niche in the singer/songwriter category. I had also found a production company in New York to record and represent me. I then pursued a career in live and recorded musical performances, which has carried me through, right
up until the present day.
The wheels for this anthology started turning in the summer of '98, when Thane Tierney came out to see our show at Concerts By The Sea in San Diego. Afterward, he talked to my manager, Barry Harvey, and me about licensing old masters and releasing previously unpublished tracks. I got a little bit scared at first, until it sank in that our man Thane is an executive at Rhino Records, a large company that specializes in archival work. He told us that he wanted to try the 4-CD approach, and that I should consider getting involved if I wanted to have any direct input in the content of the collection.
Those anthology wheels started turning faster, and I began to comply almost immediately, knowing in the back of my mind that my catalog of unpublished material could become an archivist's nightmare. But I soon came to realize that Thane knew my body of work very well, and that I would now have a golden opportunity to review all 19 of my original albums--a task I had been putting off for years. Many telephone calls ensued between Toronto and Los Angeles.
Rarities were a challenge at first but one that could be overcome. Some legwork had to be done. Some earlier judgment calls had to be reversed and emotions kept at bay. By the time the sleuthing was done, we had uncovered a number of tracks that surprised even me. Shocking, too, was the possibility of some of these tracks finding their way into the ether. I finally realized I shouldn't worry so much--some of the rarities were a little too rare and wound up, so to speak, on the cutting room floor. Within two months we had uncovered 18 respectable rarities, and the anthology wheels were, at last, in smooth rotation.
January 4, 1999
I've loved this man's music for more than 30 years. So when Rhino sealed its deal with the Warner Music Group in 1998, I roamed the company's halls, proclaiming to anyone who would listen that if we were going to do a Gordon Lightfoot box, I was going to be involved. Imagine my surprise and delight--and terror--when David
McLees, of Rhino's A&R staff, said, "Why don't you produce it?" Sure, why not? So what if it was the first compilation--let alone box set--I had ever produced? So what if it had as its subject one of the premier songwriters of the 20th century?
As Gordon would say, I pressed on.
In the folk world Lightfoot is virtually without peer. His praises have been sung by the likes of Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan, and his songs have been sung by hundreds (not counting the several million who have occasionally chimed in on the chorus of "Sundown" in their cars, homes, and offices). As part of my initial research, I discovered in The New York Times that a significant number of Canadians even believe Lightfoot wrote "O Canada," which goes to show just how deeply his songwriting has permeated popular culture in the Great White North.
Feeling the combined scrutiny of my peers at Rhino, the folk community, and the entire nation of Canada (which is, after all, America's largest trading partner), I put together a track list for Gordon's approval and waited nervously, when the first of many phone calls came: "It's Gord. Gord Lightfoot." Did he think I was expecting a call from Gordon Liddy?
To my great delight, Gordon took an active role in the compilation, acting as coproducer. We decided that if we were to include rarities on the box, it would be because they were great, not because they were merely rare. Gordon, for the first time in his entire career, went back through his records and listened to them in sequence. He found some gems in his vault; Sound Producer Bill Inglot found some at Warner Bros. We ruminated and debated and edited and pulled a little hair out and arrived at what you see here. Any flaws, omissions, or inadequacies found herein rest with me.
Over the course of our contact, I've discovered many things about Lightfoot's music, but also--and more importantly--about the man himself. He is a true gentleman in the best sense of the word; he's enthusiastic, generous with his time, and courteous to a fault. I couldn't imagine a better collaborator.
I would like to thank Gordon for making all this possible by virtue of his extraordinary gift, as well as the musicians, engineers, and producers who helped bring his ideas to fruition. Thanks to Barry Harvey and Anne Leibold at Early Morning Productions for their enthusiastic guidance. To Nicholas Jennings, a tip of the cap and a sincere appreciation for his understanding of Canadian pop music history and for his contributions here. When I read his book, Before The Gold Rush, I was convinced he was the man for the job, and I'm even more convinced now.
A special debt of gratitude is due to Wayne Francis, without whom I could not have properly undertaken this project; his wise counsel and love of Gord's music permeates this entire set. Thanks also to Valerie MacGee and Matthew Fifer, who (along with others too numerous to mention) carry the torch on the Web and who have provided helpful advice over the course of the project.
Bruce Tierney and Laurie Vatcher, in whose company I have spent many hours playing Gordon's music, both on the stereo and the guitar, also contributed significantly to the project. I owe them a lot on many levels.
I'd also like to thank my lovely bride, Carol Prescott, for her ardent support, especially during those long stretches of highway when Lightfoot was, by my decree, our only musical option.
And finally, thanks to the family whom I met backstage at a 1993 Lightfoot concert in Los Angeles, when I was working for Warner Bros. They took my picture with Gord (yes, the one adjacent to this note), sent it to me, and I lost their address in an office move. I never got a chance to thank them at all, let alone properly. I hope they will regard this collection as my thanks not only to them but also to all of Gord's fans over the last three decades.
If You Could Read My Mind:
Gord Speaks Out About His Music
1/1. REMEMBER ME (I'M THE ONE)
This was part of the American Metropolitan Enterprises catalog. A gentleman named Art Snider was trying to get a record companygoing, and he set up the sessions. It's maybe the third song I ever wrote. I think the first song I wrote was done at the age of about 17--a topical song about the hula hoop craze that was sweeping the nation. I took it down to BMI Canada to Harold Moon and he encouraged me to continue writing. So I did. By the time I was about 19 or 20, I got a job as a backup singer on a television show, and four of us drove to Nashville to cut some material. Chet Atkins put together a great backup band on those recordings that included Floyd Cramer and Grady Martin. The general feeling was that the songs sounded too much like Jim Reeves or Pat Boone.
1/2. IT'S TOO LATE, HE WINS
The song is a love triangle; one guy wins, one guy loses. It's a theme I have returned to on many occasions. It was recorded in those same Nashville sessions. Very innocent in its approach.
1/3. FOR LOVIN' ME
The most chauvinistic song I ever wrote, but, nevertheless, Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul & Mary) saw something in it, atongue-in-cheek sort of approach to the situation. Fortunately for me, it became a big hit. I was happy to have been a part of theircareer. It was their recording, along with Ian & Sylvia's help, that opened some doors in New York City that got me where I wantedto go.
1/4. EARLY MORNING RAIN
This is the one that Elvis covered. I'm really proud of the fact that he recorded it. He related to it perfectly. It was recorded by a couple of luminous acts before him: Ian & Sylvia and Peter, Paul & Mary. I never met Elvis, though I had the chance a couple of times. I never was a person who was driven to meet people that
1/5. THE WAY I FEEL
We tried to do this twice, but the first one was the better recording. We thought we had a pretty hot arrangement when we recorded it the second time, but with 30 years' perspective, I think this one is superior. It's about being lonely, a little wistful. I didn't really have any reason to feel that way at the time.
1/6. STEEL RAIL BLUES
Right back to the beginning of marriage, back in Toronto from Britain. It was a very rare evening of writing. It's an imaginary song about traveling, but it was a situation I could relate to. There was a bit of a yodel in the original recording, but that bit the dust somewhere along the way.
1/7. A MESSAGE TO THE WIND
It was written just shortly after my the marriage started. I was working with a chord change, and I was quite surprised when itpopped out. It's a song about love lost. It points toward "The Last Time I Saw Her," which was written a little later--almost like a trial run for that song. It's a little rough; we might have recorded it only once, but it's still a pretty good song.
1/8. SONG FOR A WINTER'S NIGHT
Believe it or not, it was written in Cleveland during a midsummer thunderstorm. I was in an apartment that had been lent to me forthe week while I was playing at a place called La Cave. Pouring rain, the middle of the summer, Cleveland, and I wrote this. Go figure.
1/9. CANADIAN RAILROAD TRILOGY
Written on commission, and it worked out very well. I played it for the CBC guy [Bob Jarvis] live at his desk before I recorded it. This was part of a two-hour special that was played on New Year's afternoon. I got the idea to write it long from a mentor of mine named Bob Gibson, who is a major figure in the folk revival. He had written a song called "Civil War Trilogy," which had a slow part in the middle, and I followed that pattern. Without a piece of input like that, I probably wouldn't have been able to approach the song on that basis. The song says a lot. Canadian author Pierre Berton said to me, "You know, Gord, you said as much in that song as I said in my book [about the building of the railroad across Canada]." I appreciated the compliment.
1/10. GO-GO ROUND
I was hanging out with Ronnie Hawkins and his group. A great teacher and all-around good guy. He was playing a place downtownthat had girls in gilded cages who would dance while the band played. It was about dealing with feelings of a go-go dancer, falling in love. And then, of course, she gets left holding the bag. This one got played by Scott Muni on WNEW; he was always very good to us.
Written for a CBC television special around Expo'67, done up in Montreal. It was about Canada in its developmental stages. Thecircumstances were much like the "Canadian Railroad Trilogy," and I guess they thought I'd come up with another one of those."Crossroads" wasn't that good, but it was OK. I don't know where
the film is at this point. I heard that about six or seven years ago the CBC sold all their archives. My barber asked me if I wasgoing to go buy anything, and I said I haven't got time to sit through an auction.
1/12. YOU'LL STILL BE NEEDING ME
Oh, my chauvinism rears its ugly head again. Unrequited love again, and I'm stinging, so I lash out at my love and say that she'll be needing me even though she believes she won't. I look back at it now a bit more philosophically, because it has a nice sound and the message isn't as severe as it seemed at the time. There's a lot of conceit involved; the character has some nerve.
1/13. THE MOUNTAINS AND MARYANN
A trip out West, with a lady in waiting. Not quite as adventurous as Easy Rider but still a bit of a journey, filled with hope andexpectation. And a better ending, a happier ending.
1/14. THE LAST TIME I SAW HER
It's about the breakup of a marriage. In a way, you're predicting what's going to take place, and then it happens. In some sense youplay the scene out in your mind, and after the fact, it hits you how close you were to the mark. It makes it a little tough to perform sometimes, but not tough enough to keep a great song down. In a way, it covers the same ground as "If You Could Read My Mind"did years later.
1/15. DID SHE MENTION MY NAME
It goes back to your high school sweetheart. You know you're never going to date her again, but you meet up with a friend from thehometown and you ask after her, and about all the other things you've missed since you moved away. You want to reconnect with your roots.
1/16. PUSSYWILLOWS, CAT-TAILS
Most definitely a very idyllic spot, very close to the town where I grew up. It was classic: a river, a pond, and a dam, a stream down below. Not much in the way of fish. That song takes me back to my hometown, Orillia. The most exciting thing that ever happened there was when they put the highway bypass through, and I used to go out and watch the earth-moving machines by the hour. It was a wonderful childhood.
1/17. BOSS MAN
Every once in a while I would get into the mining experience. I used to sing the Ewan MacColl song "Dark As A Dungeon" early on.The guy in the song is a little bitter about the job that he has to do, but I know he was a professional. There's a little "Tennessee" Ernie Ford in there, sort of like "Sixteen Tons." I revisited that theme later on with "Mother Of A Miner's Child" on Old Dan's Records.
1/18. SOMETHING VERY SPECIAL
A very ethereal little piece. One of the things that bothered me is that you don't really wear a rosary; you hold it in your hand. But we can let that go and chalk it up to poetic license. Our producer, John Simon, got a real cool guitar sound on that one.
1/19. BITTER GREEN
Written in a noisy diesel taxicab on the way in [to London] from Heathrow. My wife adopted that as her song after our divorce. Iwent over to London to write the album, to jog my mind into a writing space.
1/20. AFFAIR ON 8TH AVENUE
It takes place in New York City, right around 1968 or so, when I started to play at places like the Bitter End in New York and theCellar Door in Washington.
1/21. MEDLEY: I'M NOT SAYIN'/RIBBON OF DARKNESS
On Sunday Concert we combined two early songs, partly to save a little time in concert. "I'm Not Sayin'" was probably the better of the two, and "Ribbon Of Darkness" was a #1 country hit for Marty Robbins. "I'm Not Sayin'" is about noncommitment, and a little bit of that sexist thing comes into play here. "Ribbon Of
Darkness" is about the demise of the relationship. The two of them go well together, with the first song being about a man telling a woman it's my way or the highway, and in the second song she's left and he's licking his wounds. Pride cometh before the fall.
He's got somebody coming to visit him; I've had that happen a few times. Tender love song, a little spacy, but it has a positiveoutcome. Even though she leaves at daybreak, she's coming back. It hints at the supernatural.
1/23. MAMA SAID
This one came right around the time I left United Artists. Mother always encouraged me about being in the music business. She was a real inspiration to me, and so was my dad. But she was real serious about helping me along, with piano lessons and singingcompetitions and the like. She was the one who suggested that I could make my living this way.
1/24. STATION MASTER
It has a very strong Bob Dylan undercurrent. He's been a very big influence on me throughout my career, and this song is about as close as I get to showing it.
2/1. SIT DOWN YOUNG STRANGER
It's a protest song. I wrote a few protest songs, but I felt it was kind of silly for me to write protest songs, being a Canadian. After all, people could say, "What the hell is a Canadian doing protesting against an American problem?" It's tantamount to cashing in on a sensitive American situation, but I decided to do it in a subtle way. I think this one really worked, though, because I knew what I was talking about. Three-quarters of the way through it, I hit on the core statement: "War is not the answer,
and young men should not die." Everything I say before that leads up to that observation. It just works.
2/2. IF YOU COULD READ MY MIND
A song about the failure of marriage. No matter how much it stung, you had to keep on writing tunes. You had a band and a recording contract, so you pressed on. Nobody dreamed that it would become a hit; the album [originally entitled Sit Down Young Stranger before this became the title track] was out seven or eight months before the song emerged, and I was glad it did. It's about peace through acceptance. It's stood the test of time, about 30 years, and I never get tired of doing it. There are about nine tunes I play every concert, and this is one of them. (Editor's note: The others, in case you wanted to know, are "Canadian Railroad Trilogy," "Early Morning Rain," "Don Quixote," "In My Fashion," "Beautiful," "The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald," "Sundown," and"Carefree Highway.")
2/3. POOR LITTLE ALLISON
Young, hip lady moving with a pretty hip crowd. Going to the bars, looking for guys. She's doing all right. There's no real Allison; it's purely from the imagination.
2/4. THE PONY MAN
This one goes back to the triplex on Farnham Avenue, where I was living with the wife and two kids. I wrote this for my kids, Fredand Ingrid, in a very short time. I didn't act the role of the doting, guitar-toting, singing father figure, but I would occasionally play the odd riff for the kids. I found out that a lot of the time they really couldn't care less. Kids don't really care what you do; they just want to be with you.
2/5. COBWEBS AND DUST
Breakup of a marriage due to a third person. Then at the end it says, "Run to her side," as if someone else would rush in to take my place. Very chauvinistic. It was a habit I tried to break as time went by. I never intended to be sexist, but some of the earlier songs have a little of that in them. Gloria Steinem and others back then accused men of being sexist, and they were right! I realized that and tried to keep an absence of a chauvinistic attitude from then on. I finally grew up.
2/6. TOO MUCH TO LOSE
It was up for a Paul Newman movie, Cool Hand Luke, but they didn't want it. I guess after that I didn't want it either. It's one of the coolest songs we got out of the vault.
2/7. SUMMER SIDE OF LIFE
In many ways it's not one of my favorites, though people seem to want to hear it. It doesn't hold together technically onstage, to my way of thinking. It's about guys going away to fight in Vietnam; that's the whole driving thought behind it. It's about saying goodbye to your girlfriend and your mother and not knowing if you're coming back--going through God knows what.
2/8. COTTON JENNY
Light. Loving work, going to the mill, get home to the family, have supper, and, if it happens, get lucky. If not, fine--wait till next week. When Anne Murray did it, they left out the verse about "the hot sickly South." Who's to say the South is sickly? I leave it out when I sing it now too.
2/9. 10 DEGREES & GETTING COLDER
Out in the mountains in the cold, traveling. I have a few tunes of this type, like "The Mountains And Maryann" and "Long Thin Dawn." Places to go and people to see, but you're stuck--you can't get a lift and it's getting cold.
2/10. NOUS VIVONS ENSEMBLE
We had a swelling of Quebecois separatism around that time. A couple of guys even got kidnapped back during the Trudeau administration. The song was done in a deliberate sort of way. I think the message is good: it's better that the country stay together. Back in those days it was a kind of controversial stand. In a way, it still is. We did play it in Quebec, a song in French about togetherness. The Quebec City audience found my French accent to be somewhat humorous, but they liked the song, they really did.
2/11. SAME OLD LOVERMAN
Guy comes back to visit the wife, have a quick liaison while the kids are at school. Can I put the words "sexual revolution" in here without sounding like I was pretending to be a part of it? Because I really wasn't.
2/12. HEAVEN DON'T DESERVE ME
I don't have any idea where this one came from, but it's missing a verse that's filled in with an instrumental, which is kind of nice. You can take it two ways. Maybe it's that I would be too much of a pain in the butt and that I would cause unneeded hassles up there. Or you can take the other tack and say, "Maybe I'm too good for it." Or maybe I'd just prefer to be 6 feet under and forget about the whole thing. If I have an opportunity to believe in heaven, then I choose to believe. It's very philosophical and kind of light.
2/13. DON QUIXOTE
It was written for Michael Douglas' first movie, Hail, Hero! I wrote the title song for the movie, but it was no good, even though he used it. He didn't use "Don Quixote," even though it was a better song. It wasn't a very good demo. I was at the premiere of the movie in Boston, and the producers took us all out to the horse track there. It was the only time I ever went to the races in my life. The movie went down in flames. But the song survived, and it seems that Mr. Douglas has thrived also.
2/14. ALBERTA BOUND
A tune about truckin' out west to see your girl. It's definitely a winter song. And when it comes to those "honeys with a writtenguarantee to make you smile," well, I just don't do that.
2/15. ODE TO BIG BLUE
A lot of people were killing whales at that time, so I thought it was time to write a sort of protest song. Environmental activism was kind of swelling in the early '70s, and then it kind of subsided. Singers like John Denver got involved in the movement back then, but I didn't really step into the fray on that front until about 1989.
Love fulfilled. One of those songs I've played every night for over a quarter-century, and I don't get tired of it.
2/17. STONE COLD SOBER
Quite personal. There's a feeling of fact about it. It makes me feel good, and a little sad, when I do it. Some losses are more painful than others when it comes to love, and this one is very heartfelt and true. The circumstances of my life at the time matched the song. I think it sounded a little too sad to make it on the record.
2/18. OLD DAN'S RECORDS
Kind of a play on the words old dance records. It reminds me of my uncle Jack's 78-RPM dance-record collection. It reminds me of hanging out with the grandparents at Christmastime or some other holiday, having a party and getting out the old vinyl.
2/19. THAT SAME OLD OBSESSION
The "same old obsession" is probably another person, maybe a triangle, or maybe it's just about a person's need to be free.Anything that lurks out there to detract from or to try to destroy a relationship is painted as evil in this song--evil personified as a creature.
2/20. LAZY MORNIN'
Says what the morning buzz is like in a functioning household--plans for the day. The Mr. Hoot-And-Holler character referred to in the song is a guy not unlike Homer Simpson.
2/21. HI'WAY SONGS
I used to travel back and forth between New York and Toronto all the time, and I just wanted to write something about getting back on Canadian soil. I always feel good when I get back here, I really do.
2/22. CAN'T DEPEND ON LOVE
Good, positive love theme there. Your woman isn't necessarily going to agree with everything you say or want to do, but you deal
with it and move on.
A song about infidelity. Lenny Waronker, a producer and former Warner Bros. Records president, and all of us at the studiorealized when we laid it down that it would be the single. There's nothing like unrequited love with a touch of infidelity to captured people's imaginations. In the whole time I've been recording, I've never had the sense that a song was going to click the way it didwith this one. I lived out in the country when I was writing that album, and each night there was a beautiful, big sunset to the west of the barn, and that imagery made it into the song. The cover of the album was taken at the farm, where I'm sitting on a bale of hay. The farmhouse was a very good work room, I have fond memories of working there.
3/2. CAREFREE HIGHWAY
There was a real Ann. It reaches way back to a time when I was about 20 or so. It's one of those situations where you meet that one woman who knocks you out and then leaves you standing there and says she's on her way. I heard from her after a Massey Hall concert many years later; she stopped by to say hello. I don't think she knew that she is the one the song was about, and I wasn't about to tell her.
3/3. SEVEN ISLAND SUITE
The entrance going down to Port MacNichol from the eastern extremity of Lake Huron into Georgian Bay. There are three smaller islands closer in and four magnificent islands farther out. It was a vacation spot when I used to go sailing. The boat was named Sundown, incidentally. A romantic ballad about the rigors of everyday life and getting back to nature.
A knight of the road, going back to a place where he might get warm. Maybe there's family, maybe not. I have a fascination withtrains, and this is about hopping a freight, which is something I have never done. It's sort of an old-fashioned song, the kind of thing Woody Guthrie might have done. Woody's all over everybody's stuff. He makes an appearance in "The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald" when the cook says, "It's been good to know you." That's right from a Woody Guthrie lyric, "So long, it's been good to know you."
3/5. COLD ON THE SHOULDER
We've all been there. Sounds to me like someone who has been away from his lady for a long time and wants to get her back. Maybe he's promising to change his ways, but he definitely will do whatever it takes to get back in her good graces. The lonelinessand remorse is getting to be a little too much, it's a little bit cold out there, so he's coming back in to stay.
3/6. NOW AND THEN
A little bit of a samba feel to a song dealing with the rather prevalent theme of unrequited love. Very ethereal and sort of similar to "Is There Anyone Home" from the Sundown album.
3/7. RAINY DAY PEOPLE
It's about the person waiting in the wings for a relationship to subside, so he can move in.
3/8. FINE AS FINE CAN BE
Dedicated to my daughter Ingrid, who is now in her early thirties and has given me two grandchildren. I haven't written songs for all of my children--not that I don't want to, but the song has to be right. All I need is time . . . unlimited time.
3/9. ALL THE LOVELY LADIES
One of our most popular live songs. A Valentine to the audience, where we recognize "all the lovely ladies in their finery tonight," and then the "handsome gentlemen."
3/10. SUMMERTIME DREAM
It's all about working hard. Not necessarily about being a musician, but work in general. A lot of my songs are about love, and a lot are about work; this is one of the latter. I agree with Kahlil Gibran very strongly on this one: If you have a job and someone who loves you, you've got it made.
3/11. THE WRECK OF THE EDMUND FITZGERALD
The inspiration was a Newsweek article about the wreck. These sorts of things have happened on the Great Lakes for many years,and I thought I had another shipwreck song in me after having done "Marie Christine" years before. I'm proud it's been written. It'sbeen a very educational and interesting experience, for sure. I
have gotten to meet a lot of the people who were related to the men on the Edmund Fitzgerald; periodically they have functions,which I attend whenever I can. It's been a real-life experience for me.
3/12. NEVER TOO CLOSE
The exploration between a man and a woman, about examination and emotional weakness. Hopefully not a trip to the marriage counselor.
3/13. BETTY CALLED ME IN
A song about the birth of a new love affair. I had rented a house, an empty house, where I wrote a bunch of tunes, including this one.
3/14. ENDLESS WIRE
Pressing on with vigor here. Each time I sat down to do an album, I was always looking forward, usually starting from scratch, which is why we have some of these bonus tracks from earlier records. I was feeling very optimistic when I wrote this song.
3/15. THE CIRCLE IS SMALL
Another tune about life in the fast lane and unrequited love. It was written early in my career, and we rerecorded it because wethought we could do it better. I like this version better than the original.
3/16. SEA OF TRANQUILITY
Believe it or not, it's about the nocturnal wildlife in the forests close to my home.
3/17. MAKE WAY FOR THE LADY
There's a couple of ways of looking at the song. It's either a man talking to his son, who's starting to date, and saying, "Get ready," or else it's about trying to find a lady who will ease your suffering and make you secure. And as you go through life you find out none of this stuff works.
3/18. DREAM STREET ROSE
Damon Runyon wrote a short story about a poor lady in New York City, and I took its title and built the song around it.
3/19. GHOSTS OF CAPE HORN
A bunch of guys in New York were doing a movie about the passage of old, tall ships around the southern tip of South America, andthey wanted a tune for the soundtrack. I wrote it, and they accepted it.
3/20. KEEPIN' ON YEARNING
A pretty confident song. There have been times when I have been confident enough to write like that, but they have been few andfar between. It was written around the time of Dream Street Rose and got shoved aside. Lenny Waronker and Lee Herschberg came up to Toronto to listen to all the tracks, but we had stuff that we
thought was better at the time, so it didn't make the album.
3/21. CANARY YELLOW CANOE
I actually had a canary-yellow canoe, a Royalex. I wrapped it around a rock. It was there about 14 hours, and we never could free it. In the song I listed a whole bunch of places I have been canoeing, but there may be one or two I haven't been yet. I haven't been across to Resolute, on Victoria Island. Some of the places in the song are rivers and some of them are towns, like Ross River. Ross River is a little town in the Yukon Territories, right in the middle of the northern Rockies. You have to drive up the Alaska Highway and turn right and drive 150 miles to get there.
I was running back the lyrics in my head, and I decided I don't really have anything more to say about it than is there in the song. Sorry.
4/2. SHE'S NOT THE SAME
Another song about unrequited love. It has a positive outcome, which isn't always the case in real life.
4/3. 14 KARAT GOLD
Look after your woman, because, for all intents and purposes, she's the only one you've got. Your love is like gold, and if you have the love of a good woman, it's golden.
4/4. BABY STEP BACK
Time to make a decision about life and love. The actual line came from my former brother-in-law on the golf course. He used to say,when you lined up at the first tee, "Either step up or step back."
4/5. IN MY FASHION
Good, big statement about life in general: Gotta carry on. It's optimistic. Another one of those songs that shows up every concert.
4/6. NEVER SAY TRUST ME
Written for Kenny Rogers, but he decided not to use it. I was thinking about him when I wrote it. He had asked me to write him asong, but it turned out not to be right for him, and that's that.
4/7. WHY SHOULD I FEEL BLUE
It's a little ethereal. There's a sort of excitement to it that I can't really describe. This happens with a number of these songs--people ask me where they come from or what they are about, and I can't really say. I'm not trying to hide anything; I just don't really know exactly what brings some of them on. It really frustrates reporters, even though I'm not trying to.
4/8. SOMEONE TO BELIEVE IN
It's about searching, which is a common theme during this era. I was in that kind of a space then. It talks about my life, which has had its ragged moments.
Continuing in that pursuit of happiness, it's someone saying, "Let's give it one more try. But try with me, not with him."
4/10. BROKEN DREAMS
Written with society in mind. Love, people meeting, people parting . . . no particular personal anchor here, just a song.
4/11. ALWAYS ON THE BRIGHT SIDE
I wrote a whole bunch of songs in preparation for East Of Midnight. I was alone, on my own, and "uninvolved" for about five years, and as a consequence I was able to write very strongly at that time. We recorded it a couple of times, it got put away, and I hadn't really thought about it until I dug it out of the storage space back in the fall of '98.
4/12. FORGIVE ME LORD
I recorded this two or three times, but I like this version best. Lenny Waronker never liked it. Around the time of this recording, I got involved with David Foster on the song "Anything For Love," which went off in another direction, so we decided to leave it off the album. I played it for years in concert, and listening to it now, I'm sort of surprised it never made it onto a record before this.
It takes us in the direction of Boston. I was visiting down in New England, and that's where the song's geographical roots are. It's hard to explain where it comes from emotionally; sometimes you sit down and let your imagination run, and all of a sudden you have a song. I guess we can just leave it at that.
4/14. EAST OF MIDNIGHT
It's another song about being adrift. Lyrically, it's a very deep song; probably goes as deep as I can go. Musically, it's in a bit of a higher key than I sing now, but I still do it in concert occasionally with a slightly different arrangement.
4/15. MORNING GLORY
This is one of my personal favorites. I remember working down in Florida; I used to go out sailing down in Biscayne Bay withsinger/songwriter Fred Neil. All of the activity takes place in the corridor between Toronto and Miami.
4/16. A LESSON IN LOVE
I was inspired by reading a natty little book on an airplane one day, a biography of Phineas T. Barnum. The song is sort of loosely arranged around his relationship with Jenny Lind, a Swedish singer who toured America in the late 1800s. I reach a long way back inthese tunes, back into my personal memories, and sometimes back into history.
4/17. A PASSING SHIP
I heard an album of sea chanteys once by a guy named Bernard Crimmins, an Englishman, and a lot of his imagery stuck with me. It encouraged me to write more songs about the sea, but this song is not really about a ship at all. It's about a guy on the outside looking in, who wants to have a family, but can't get into that secure situation even though he wants to. I've been there, so I know how it feels. And I sort of felt at that time I was away so far at sea, there was no hope for me to participate in a family.
4/18. WAITING FOR YOU
The concept of flying at night is very strong in there. We're coming home from a gig and flying back to Toronto, as we do afteralmost every show. I was writing a batch of songs and we were traveling at night a lot then, but it has other imagery in there as well. There's even a little of the USS Arizona in there, when I wrote, "We could be trapped between decks eternally."! How something about Pearl Harbor made it in there, I'm not quite sure; maybe it was the fact that war in the Middle East was brewing.
4/19. DRINK YER GLASSES EMPTY
It's chronologically correct, inasmuch as I was very young when World War II started. But I remember the opening years of the war, getting ration stamps for milk and meat and the like. I thought back to that while CNN was going constantly right at the beginning of Desert Storm. I even gave it a bit of a John Wayne slant, as you can hear in the lyric.
4/20. I'LL PROVE MY LOVE
It became my new bride's song; we were married about the time I wrote it. It also really means the audience too. It was meant for them first and became her song.
4/21. A PAINTER PASSING THROUGH
It's very autobiographical in its nature, or at least it came out as such. It wasn't premeditated that way. I've always drawn heavily from natural settings, and a lot of those images come back in the songs. It's painting through the use of lyrics.