Gordon Lightfoot Album Reviews


        In 1982, to coincide with the release of Shadows, Lightfoot issued an interview album to radio stations titled "Lightfoot Talks Shadows."  It contains comments from Lightfoot, mostly dealing with the making of the album.  Here is a text of Lightfoot's comments from the album:

As soon as the record comes out, of course, we're not gonna hit the road and start plugging it - because, we've already, in a sense,
done that - because we've been doing a lot of this material on stage, already, and checking the audience's response on it.  What we will do is, when we tour we'll do it in a piecemeal type of way we've done it in the past - we go out and do three or four dates at a time, and fly back and home and wait five or six days and go out again, that type of deal.  We're playing western Canada sometime in the spring, I believe it's in April, and our American tour, which is quite large, takes up a lot more of our time - and we'll probably start that in .. uhhh the end of July, and that'll take us right through to the end of 1982.

I always see couples, always.  I see couples, and they're holding hands, and , I don't know, our particular audience is a very very nice
kind of people - we don't have any 'ya-hoos' hanging around.

When I originally began to make it in the music business, which was many many years ago, some of the most important contacts established were American managers.  And as a result of this, they were establishing American deals. So I was able to work there under an H-1 visa - which is what you have to have - you have to show some reason for being there. You still have to pay, like, your income taxes - we pay taxes to the American government, as well the Canadian government.  And you had to show some reason
for usurping someone's job.  So it was not necessary for me to move down to the United States at that point.   The other reason, is that, uhh, this is gonna sound kinda phony, but I really like Toronto, a lot.  I've been living here for 22 years.  I like my city, a lot.  And I like one of my hobbies, a lot, and that's canoeing. And I like to go canoeing up in the far north, and that sort of thing.  And that's probably the main reason I stay here, is that I like my city and I like going canoeing.

Yeah, this summer, we're doing the Kazan River, from the Snowbird Lake.  About 200 miles north of Flin Flon, Manitoba, to Baker Lake. It's a good trip. I wouldn't advise it though, it's a trip for experts.  We plan to start that about July the 1st and we hope that we
don't run into ice, because it's been a cold winter.  What you have to do is just simply carry everything around the ice if you ever encounter ice.  Its usually drift ice that's drifting out of lakes and into the rivers.  In some of these lakes that are long and narrow, the ice will collect, as in a funnel. The lake becomes a funnel and the ice will collect.  But you take the number of days in consideration.  The rule-of-thumb is you should go about 20 miles a day. Irregardless of what kind of obstructions you might run up against.  Which
could be rapids, or any number of things- wind ?..  So it's an interesting thing - it's really good for your health, and now I've done about 3500 miles of it, but I'm pushing for the 4000 mile mark this summer on the Kazan which is about a 500 mile trip.  If you have anything like, go wrong, that's very serious, we carry an emergency locator.  Which we would use only in certain instances - like you wouldn't use it if a guy had a toothache, you'd give him a "222" or something.

We're going to make an audio-visual presentation which could like become an item for a cable TV slot, in the United States, or it could be used as a promotional device, it could be played as a mini-concert on PBS, which would be received here in Canada, there are many outlets.   They are expensive to make.  But we're going to make one.  And its all  in the framework of the new audio-visual disc business, which is beginning to develop.   I was approached/asked if I wanted to get involved in this, several months ago, and I decided to do it, so we're going to make one of those.  Its going to cost us probably about $85,000 to make one, it's very
expensive.  There are three or four different avenues it could be used in.  As a matter of fact, I'm making it a policy to make of those with each album that I make from now on.  'Cause you want to get in to that, If you want to take the effort, make the effort, get involved in it, you'll have a much better chance of succeeding with your record, because one helps the other.  And I'm just a very conscientious guy,  and we like, run a big business here, a big company, a lot of people work in this company.  There's all the guys in the band, the sound people, everybody and uh, we try to do what we can to keep things rolling along.  I've been doing it so long  that - probably 22, 23 years now, it's just like keeping it rolling along, keeping  the momentum up and looking after things.  And playing good music and making people happy, and that sort of thing, that's what it's all about.

You can't think about being the producer when you're cutting your basic tracks.   And everything that's ever going to be there is going to be in the basic track.  And you don't put your producer's hat on until it comes time to do the  post production.  Well, you start before that, of course, but you don't really get seriously into it until the post production - the mix, the overdubs, and all that sort of thing.  We use all of our basic musicians on our basic tracks, which is just where we sit down. Like I don't go and put my whole vocal on a record - like when I sing that thing when I sing it.  Unless I might mess up a line or two, I might go back and correct that. But I sing that vocal the first time I ever walk on the studio floor.  I don't come in like three months later and stand in a booth, and sing it.

If I have something I really believe in that I've done, such as I've done with this record, and the amount of effort and work that has gone into this record - The only reason I'm doing a promotional tour is that I want to make sure that people aware of it.  I could go and comparing it to other things - I wouldn't compare it to other people, but I could compare it to my own work, and I could say that it's as good as anything I've done since SUNDOWN, for instance.

Songwriting is a complicated process.  It takes a lot of time.  It's done gradually.  It's done by bits of information, bits of strings of ideas which I presently would be feeling.  I keep track of these things on scraps of paper, and that sort of thing, and when it comes time to "do the job", you figure, well, let's take three or four months and let's write some songs.  And then you go and take a look in your wallet, your briefcase, and find these little bits of ideas you've written down.   I always carry a few sheets of manuscript with me, I might write like one line, and leave it there. Terry and I might come up with something while we are getting in tune for a show.  And I just save these little pieces of information up and when it comes time to go, you just take the tiny string of material and develop it.  I also sometimes, like to tape little bits of information, but that is usually done out of my home, or in my office, or something like that, because I don't go running all over the place with a tape recorder on me, you know.  If I get an idea, I'll write it down, usually.

The cover of the album, is a uhh?.. I have a friend in Los Angeles, who's done a lot of photographic work on me, Tom Bert, and he wanted to do something that would sort of illustrate this "shadows" idea.  So this is a very special process, that he uses here.    Since we are talking about album jackets, album jackets are important!  He's a very bright guy, he does a lot of photography, he's a professional, very professional photographer, and he wanted to get something that would create this idea of 'shadows'  so that's where this picture comes from.

14 KARAT GOLD is surrealistic.  It has to do with the relationship, with the human relationship, what is says is that you don't know everything there is to know, about everybody else, or about each other, or about anything for that matter.  But what you say is that you're saying that you appreciate your lady in very positive terms.  It's kind of a departure from some of the other stuff that I've done.  Some of this stuff will be rather prevalent on this record.  It's a different kind of texture, and it's a kind of texture that I've used in this album, at least three or four times, with the bass drum.  And the certain musical approach that we use on it.  And it's a song that works extremely well on stage, because I've sung it many times.

IN MY FASHION is a philosophical song, of which I've attempted to write many, I don't if I've every really succeeded at it, but I've tried.  It recognizes my responsibilities as a human being, the people I've been very closely related to in my life, like my family, my relatives, my two kids by my former marriage, and that sort of thing.  It's a sort of song about where you recognize that you've not cut all ties, even though things have not worked out the way people would have liked to have had them work out, that everything is
being looked after,   and things have not just been cast to the wind.

SHADOWS,  well, at the time, about six months ago,  I really wasn't sure,  if I had everything  that I needed to make a great album out of this thing.   That was one of the very best songs that I had, it was just about the premiere tune that I thought that I had.  It was a song that dealt also with a very special problem that I went through in my life, as many people have gone through.  It dealt with nature, and the relationship between the man and the woman and that whole sort of thing.  And, the result of it,  I thought the tune
was so darn good that I said "this is going to be my title song" and it still is.

BLACKBERRY WINE is a song that I wrote about 2 or 3 years ago, which is a lively bright little tune that we have a lot of fun with, which works very well onstage.  It's about a very light topic, as a matter of fact, it's about drinking if I may be so bold.

HEAVEN HEKP THE DEVIL.    In my quest for topical material,  which is something I always go for in a big way.  I like to write topical songs, but with being a Canadian, I can't really comment upon what happens in other countries, because, after all, it's none of my business, when you come right down to it.  But that song was written for the hostages, after their return. And it is a commentary on the fact that they were returned and that everything was allright.  I wanted to prove that I wasn't trying to capitalize on the fact
that they were imprisoned, I didn't want to do that, so I waited until it was over with.  But the idea came to be before they were released.

THANK YOU FOR THE PROMISES.   It has the very kind of sort of romantic type of approach.  The music is interesting. The rhythm pattern is very interesting in it, and it deals with the same type of situation that we find in a lot of these songs, except that it is done with much more sophistication.  About the relationship between the man and the woman.  And their mutual regard for one another, but mostly both totally "devote to one another to each other as long as we both shall live" kind of situation.  It reminds me of Leonard Cohen, if anybody influenced a tune like that, I'd say it would have to have been Leonard Cohen.  I was quite a fan of his, for a number of years, still am.

BABY STEP BACK.   If I were to tell you the story behind that song you wouldn't even believe me.  I was out playing golf one day, with my brother-in-law, Bob Eyers up in Orillia, whose name is credited on the album, by the way.  And it came time to go on the first tee, and he said "either step up or step back" and that was where that song originated.

ALL I'M AFTER. It was one of the very last songs that I wrote for the album.  And it was one of the last songs that made it into the roster. It has a certain thing about it that is very nice.  It's also written in 6/8 time, which is sort of interesting to get into, I've done it before but have not been successful.  It deals with the human relationship, and how honesty pays because if you're not honest, you're going to have to pay for it somewhere down the road.

The song TRIANGLE.  The song was written, specifically, about the Bermuda Triangle.   I've actually known someone who got lost down there, in my life, I've known a person who disappeared down there.  I think what it is, is a system of wind and rocks that causes these things to happen down there - some folks say that it's extra-uhhh-terrestrial?.  So what I did was try to make a general blanket statement about it.  And it's a completely philosophical song - it's a sea chantey.  Of which I've written many, as a matter of fact, one day, I would like a whole album of sea-songs, and songs about the water, I'd like to have them all "published" on one album.

I'LL DO ANYTHING.  Probably, I would think, would have been my "most unlikely to succeed" but, the guitar work and everything that has gone into the song has made it very acceptable.  It would be the closest thing  to a country song that we have on this record.

SHE'S NOT THE SAME. This one is our "mystery tune."  It's a song about unrequited love, and I consider it to be a very good song.