Gordon Lightfoot Album Reviews

by Wayne Francis

        It was 1967.  The Beatles were immersed in the psychedelia of Sgt. Pepper, Dylan was living in seclusion in upstate New York recovering from his motorcycle accident the previous year.  Dylan, ever the trend-setter would not emerge with a new album until the following year, 1968 and when he did it was much expected that he would attempt to top the Beatles at their own game and take pyschedelia one step further.  But no.  He instead released the country-folk-tinged "John Wesley Harding" album.  And it wasn't the Beatles' sound he sought to challenge, but instead he wanted a sound rooted firmly in the songwriting tradition.  And during his year recovering, along came an album by an ultimate troubadour - Gordon Lightfoot's "The Way I Feel".  Dylan was quoted as saying he wanted to go for the honest sound Lightfoot acheived on "The Way I Feel".  He went as far as hiring the same drummer, Ken Buttrey and multi-instrumentalist, Charlie McCoy whom Lightfoot had employed on his "The Way I Feel".  The ultimate compliment from the greatest contemporary songwriter, Dylan, to his fast developing peer, Lightfoot.
        When the confident opening 12-string notes introduce Walls, it quickly is evident that Lightfoot has had a productive couple of years since he recorded his first album, Lightfoot! and he's hitting his stride as a performer and stepping beyond the "songwriter-only" label that had been his first mark on the music industry.
        The writing, singing and playing on "The Way I Feel" is remarkable!  Songs as diverse as the timeless "A Minor Ballad" to the Byrdesque arrangement on "The Way I Feel" to the poignant "Home From The Forest", Lightfoot is showcasing the boundless talent for writing that he would continue to mine for the more than 30 years since.
        Beautiful songs of love and regret such as "Song For A Winter's Night" placed Lightfoot in a position of being the chronicler of the plight of every man and woman who have known, and lost love.  And just as effectively he captured the restless beauty of the wild and boundless country he was born to and came to epitomize.  "Crossroads" and his masterpiece, the "Canadian Railrod Trilogy" proving the point.
        It's not hard for me to recall hearing this album when it was new and marvelling at the discovery of it all! And now looking back, I also marvel that someone as brilliant as Bob Dylan obviously had done just the same, making the same discovery.  Psychedelia has come and gone, trends changed with the seasons, but Lightfoot continues to be the true original, steering his own course for others to follow.  Enough said!