Saturday, June 25, 2016

Gordon Lightfoot - "If You Could Read My Mind" (1970)

Gordon Lightfoot - "If You Could Read My Mind" (Billboard #5, entered 12/26/70; easy listening #1). Written by Gordon Lightfoot. Produced by Lenny Waronker and Joe Wissert. 45: "If You Could Read My Mind"/"Poor Little Allison" (Reprise 1970). LP: If You Could Read My Mind (Reprise 1970).

When Gordon Lightfoot entered the American charts for the first time in late 1970, he had already become an iconic Canadian chart fixture, with his first hit happening in 1962. But he'd also seen other performers' versions of his compositions do well in the U.S., such as Marty Robbins's 1965 country #1 "Ribbon of Darkness" and Peter, Paul and Mary's Top 40 version of "For Lovin' Me" (1965).

In 1969, Canadian hitmakers The Guess Who memorialized Phase One of the troubadour's career with a tribute song called "Lightfoot" on their Wheatfield Soul album. Lightfoot launched Phase Two with "If You Could Read My Mind" (a musical relative of the poignant Midnight Cowboy theme, with its root-to-flatted seventh opening chord sequence), which became an instant standard and role model for the forthcoming singer-songwriter era.

In 1977, the George Benson hit "The Greatest Love of All," with music by Michael Masser, plagiarized a key musical passage - chords and melody - from "If You Could Read My Mind." When Whitney Houston had an even bigger hit with it in 1985, Lightfoot finally broke down and lawyered up, only to withdraw the suit in the belief that it would do too much indirect damage to Houston.

Gordon Lightfoot - "If You Could Read My Mind"

See also: A KMPC Playlist circa 1971

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