Take Care to Not 'Get Burned in a Three-Way-Script' | Beaufort County Now | Canadian Balladeer Gordon Lightfoot was never a fixture among my favorites, as I consumed volumes of the uniquely eclectic music from the most enlightened periods of any within the realm of the classical creation of music; however, Balladeer Lightfoot did create one song that has stuck with me.

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Esoteric in descriptive passion, while leapfrogging non sequiturs at will; powerful in the communication of purpose; the whole of this poetic masterpiece is an essential conversation with the daily Soul.

Gordon Lightfoot, performing "If You Could Read My Mind" in 1970
    Canadian Balladeer Gordon Lightfoot was never a fixture among my favorites, as I consumed volumes of uniquely eclectic music from the most enlightened period of any within the realm of the classical creation of music; however, Balladeer Lightfoot did create one song that has stuck with me over generations. His ballad "If You Could Read My Mind" was that one song that was my guilty pleasure, as an over stimulated rock'n' fool of the late 60's and 70's. It was that song that I truly understood at its essential core, when I was then so pathetically self-absorbed in any melancholy stupor, so common for misdirected minds and spirits. It was a melody that kept me company, as I grew too introspective as to how weird reality rolls with the punches, and then throws them back 2 fold, and with a fine accuracy.

    Regardless of my mood swings while "comfortably numb" to the real world broiling about me then, this song poked a big, valuable hole into the veneer of my pathos, and showed me another side within my introspection that needed some tending and much mending. "If You Could Read My Mind" is that song, in melody and verse, that possesses the perfect blend of what worked then, and even now for just me. I still get its allegorical flow of thought that seems to etch quite a bit deeper upon the wall of my soul. Still, I haven't considered the song for about a decade, and it still has an element of power into my sense of nostalgia flowing through me.

If You Could Read My Mind

     ©1969 by Gordon Lightfoot

If you could read my mind, love,
What a tale my thoughts could tell.
Just like an old time movie,
'Bout a ghost from a wishing well.
In a castle dark or a fortress strong,
With chains upon my feet.
You know that ghost is me.
And I will never be set free
As long as I'm a ghost that you can't see.

If I could read your mind, love,
What a tale your thoughts could tell.
Just like a paperback novel,
The kind the drugstores sell.
Then you reached the part where the heartaches come,
The hero would be me.
But heroes often fail,
And you won't read that book again
Because the ending's just too hard to take!

I'd walk away like a movie star
Who gets burned in a three way script.
Enter number two:
A movie queen to play the scene
Of bringing all the good things out in me.
But for now, love, let's be real;
I never thought I could feel this way
And I've got to say that I just don't get it.
I don't know where we went wrong,
But the feeling's gone
And I just can't get it back.

If you could read my mind, love,
What a tale my thoughts could tell.
Just like an old time movie,
'Bout a ghost from a wishing well.
In a castle dark or a fortress strong.
With chains upon my feet.
But stories always end,
And if you read between the lines,
You'd know that I'm just tryin' to understand
The feelin's that you lack.
I never thought I could feel this way
And I've got to say that I just don't get it.
I don't know where we went wrong,
But the feelin's gone
And I just can't get it back!


    The words above are carried in melody by a healthy allocation of the chords: G, F, C, D, and to a lesser extent, to elevate the the tone /mood in subtle increments, chords G7, Em, and Am7; so from my novice perspective - not too difficult to play. The difficulty will be in getting the picking to a serviceable arrangement, because, there is no strumming in this song, which is good for me; I'm not much of a strummer - I'd rather pull strings up, rather than down. It's a habit. As you will notice in the video, the song is carried by the picking of proper resonant notes out of each individual chord to well accommodate Gordon Lightfoot's pitch perfect brooding baritone, which was magnificent when recorded in 1970, and in the video below made that same year.


This rendition of "If You Could Read My Mind", as well of the arrangement on the recording with Lightfoot's phrasing within his perfect brooding baritone was the allegorical "lightning in a bottle". It is as much musical perfection as is Louis Armstrong's rendition of Henry Mancini's (melody)/ Johnny Mercer's (lyrics) "Moon River", which is high praise indeed. This is what real art looks like.

    What piqued my interest, in this short retrospective of Gordon Lightfoot, was my son-in-law, Neil's, discussion of "The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald" which was the subject of an interesting telecast that he had recently witnessed. Instantly, I thought of my favorite Gordon Lightfoot song, "If you Could Read My Mind"

    And now, as I am want to do, I searched my laptop for the song's lyrics, the chords, and I hammered out something resembling this classic remembrance of unrequited love, or other melancholy moments. It was fun for a bit, especially when my wife sang along with me, and, remarkably, she remembered the words far better than I. Thank God for my computer at the ready, or, I would be lost in the lyrical remembrance, and I dare not try to assemble the chords without its aid. Still, I enjoyed the moment, and I intend to learn this song on my acoustical six string, just as I plan to learn many more of similar power. I will give an update on this progress when one is warranted.
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Comments

( June 8th, 2017 @ 9:59 am )
 
Great piece of writing B.T. I love the roller coaster analogy, for I think I was riding with you for a bit.

Music is a wonderful art. Now that I am out of politics /governing, when I work with tools, I don't recite speeches or think about what I saw in the news, I think about music: melody and verse.
( June 7th, 2017 @ 7:23 pm )
 
As one who spent most of his life somewhat detached and auditing the emotional roller coaster rather than riding it, I gained a new perspective looking back at the ride with a somewhat melancholy muse. Now that I have found the time to evaluate the ups and downs of my ride, I have found that when it coast into the last few hills with maybe one loop go before that long straightaway toward the braking station, all the baggage starts to fall apart and unload I am somewhat perplexed that the ride is almost over. All I can say is was a great ride, I survived and enjoyed most of it. I have few regrets. I could perhaps wish for a longer deceleration leg into the station, but wouldn't we all.

Now that I have time on my hands, It is my habit to immerse myself in research about musicians and their life history, I was happy to find this poor quality video of Gordon singing his trademark song in 2015 at 77 years old. Two things stood out to me.

1: He is still a pretty good guitar player.
2: He has lost all the emotion associated with that past love and sings this song now for the 10,000th time with a rote rendition to please those still stuck in the throes of his pathos. Like so many musicians who are blessed to live long enough to experience their own version of Groundhog Day, I think he does the song justice nonetheless.

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And the saga continues.
( June 6th, 2017 @ 2:42 pm )
 
You're right. I have dated two extraordinarily beautiful women in my life.

The first one did not work out, and this song rang a deep bell for me. The second beautiful woman, I married 39 years ago, and sired 4 children with her. She is still extraordinarily beautiful ... and my best friend.

Maybe that is why I forgot about the song for so terribly long. It is still a great song on so many other levels, and yes, those picking licks will be hard to duplicate; I may just strike out to achieve my own feel /mood.

Remarkably, my voice works fairly well for this type song.
( June 6th, 2017 @ 10:41 am )
 
Gordon wrote this song about the breakup of his first marriage. As I was putting the final touches on my broken marriage in 1970, the lyrics held particular meaning for me as well. Anyone who was ever broken someone's heart or had their heart broken can relate to Gordon's pathos.

And the Guitar work ain't all that bad either.
( June 6th, 2017 @ 1:25 am )
 
Watching and listening to this video once again after so many years of forgotten praise of this song, I am very much looking forward to your accompaniment, Lynn, when I get the picking down a bit better with the phrasing of the lyrics.
( June 5th, 2017 @ 3:56 pm )
 
You know B.T., Gordon Lightfoot has grown to look more like the guy who writes this music.
( June 5th, 2017 @ 3:31 pm )
 
Really nice article. I never realized how much I liked this song, but I guess remembering the lyrics as I do is telling.
( June 5th, 2017 @ 1:20 pm )
 
As I said in my piece, I have not thought of Gordon Lightfoot in nearly a decade, maybe more, and then I remembered this fantastic song, and it is just as powerful now as it was then.
( June 5th, 2017 @ 11:58 am )
 
What a strange coincidence, I wrote an article about Gordon back in 2013, which I have not submitted to BCN. Just last week I was reminded of him by a flashback prompted by an incident at the Old Folks softball championship in the neighborhood. I updated the article for my Grandpa's Diaries.

He was and still is at 78 a troubadour of lost love as well as the story of the "Edmund Fitzgerald"

Here is his tour schedule for 2017

www.lightfoot.ca



Removing a Statue is a common practice - Then and Now For What it's Worth, Best Music Ever, Music Reviews, Music, The Arts Gordon Lightfoot – Warning Signs on the road of life

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