1968, Music

Did She Mention My Name? (1968) by Gordon Lightfoot

This is my first experience of Lightfoot outside of hearing 5 or so songs of his ad nauseum on Oldies Radio when I was a kid. I guess I associated those songs with my childhood and so I’ve never had an urge to explore his oeuvre. Reading about this record, I was shocked to find out he started his career in the 1960s. His lyrics have always struck me as pre-Dylan.

This is apparently his most arranged record to date, and you can tell. It’s not completely over-the-top, but there are definitely a few songs where you wonder what anyone was thinking. (It was 1968, though, and people everywhere thought strings were the thing.) I’m just not sure the strings add much. I think I’d rather listen to his earlier records.

The songs themselves are mostly pretty strong, though a couple of them sound a little too much like other songs I know from the era. But, certainly his lyrics are fine and he has a strong sense of melody.

The one exception to this is “May I,” which feels like John Simon or some guy at the label said to him “You gotta right something psychedelic, man” and Lightfoot complied, spewing out this pile of shit. I don’t know what it is, but I know it doesn’t work, not the least because Lightfood himself cannot pull it off. (Maybe it would be passable with a different singer.)

So that’s something else I learned: Lightfoot is an absolutely fine singer when it comes to folk ballads but he can’t really do anything else; he’s not a great singer. This is not a problem for folk singers, except when they try to write songs that don’t fit in their range.

Anyway, this is fine, but all it’s really done is make me think I should listen to earlier Lightfoot, if I listen to any at all.


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