Gordon Lightfoot (1938–2023) Tribute List

May 2, 2023
Canadian singer-songwriter, Gordon Lightfoot, achieved international success in folk, folk-rock, and country music, and helped define folk-pop music of the 1960s and 1970s. Several of his albums achieved gold and multi-platinum status internationally, and his songs have been recorded by many notable artists. The following Lightfoot hits topped the U.S. Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary (AC) charts: "If You Could Read My Mind" (1970), "Sundown" and "Carefree Highway" (1974), "Rainy Day People" (1975), and "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" (1976). Some of his many awards include 13 JUNO Awards, five Grammy Award nominations, 1986 Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee, 1997 Governor General's Performing Arts Award (Canada's highest honor in the performing arts), and his 2012 induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. This tribute honors Lightfoot using lyrics and biographical articles.
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
– If You Could Read My Mind
Sundown you better take care
If I find you been creeping 'round my back stairs
– Sundown
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee
– The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald
Carefree highway, let me slip away, slip away on you
Carefree Highway
I guess it must be wanderlust or trying to get free
From the good old faithful feeling we once knew
– Carefree Highway
If you get lonely, all you really need is that rainy day love
Rainy day people all know there's no sorrow they can't rise above
– Rainy Day People
Though I could hardly hear the name you spoke
It's a name I don't recall
– Talking In Your Sleep
Just think about the fool
Who by his virtue can be found
– Race Among The Ruins
In the early morning rain with a dollar in my hand
With an aching in my heart and my pockets full of sand
I'm a long way from home, Lord, I miss my loved ones so
In the early morning rain with no place to go
– Early Morning Rain
Motor city madness has touched the countryside
And through the smoke and cinders, you can hear it far and wide
– Black Day In July
There was a time in this fair land when the railroad did not run
When the wild majestic mountains
Stood alone against the sun
– Canadian Railroad Trilogy
"Gordon Lightfoot captured our country’s spirit in his music — and in doing so, he helped shape Canada’s soundscape. May his music continue to inspire future generations, and may his legacy live on forever," Trudeau wrote.
Inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1986, Lightfoot garnered 13 prestigious JUNO awards — out of a total 29 nominations — presented by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
His rich baritone voice and songs like "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" and "If You Could Read My Mind" made him one of the most popular artists of the 1970s.
The New York Times
His personal style, reticent and self-effacing — he avoided interviews and flinched when confronted with praise — also went down well.
The New York Times
Many of Lightfoot's songs about Canadian wildlife, streets and weather doubled as cultural elegies — like his 1976 hit "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," a dramatic retelling of a real-life maritime disaster.
These songs ["If You Could Read My Mind," "Carefree Highway," and "Early Morning Rain"] earned him a sterling reputation as a songwriter's songwriter, which you can see when you check the list of people who covered them: Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, and countless others.
Rolling Stone
Lightfoot's biographer Nicholas Jennings said, "His name is synonymous with timeless songs about trains and shipwrecks, rivers and highways, lovers and loneliness."

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