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Old 10-07-2006, 07:49 AM   #1
Auburn Annie
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October 7, 2006

Top 10 Gordon Lightfoot cover tunes

By DAVID SCHMEICHEL - Winnipeg Sun

Is there anything more Canadian than Gordon Lightfoot? Beer? Maybe. Hockey? It's debatable.

But even those who don't drink and can't stand sports probably have memories of sitting in a cabin at dusk or driving down some lonely stretch of the Trans-Canada while Lightfoot -- in that immediately identifiable, unassuming baritone of his -- droned on about the railroad, the Edmund Fitzgerald or that woman creepin' 'round his back stair.

We're obviously not the only ones who think so. It seems every Canadian performer has seen fit to cover Lightfoot, usually with the respect reserved for elderly relatives or visiting royalty.

Producer David Foster says, "Lightfoot's voice is such a part of the fabric of Canada, I know it almost as well as I know my own," while singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith says Lightfoot looms so large in his life, he never travels without his albums.

But those south of our borders have also cottoned on, with acts as diverse as Elvis Presley, Eddie Vedder, Barbra Streisand and even Bob Dylan lending their distinctive voices to Lightfoot's words. "Every time I hear a song of his," Dylan once said, "it's like I wish it would last forever."

Ditto for us, although we've pretty much worn out our copy of Gord's Gold. As an alternative, we've compiled this little mix-tape for you, of some of our favourite cover versions of classic Lightfoot tracks:

1. For Lovin' Me - Peter, Paul & Mary

Now they're remembered more for that kiddie song about the dragon but in the early '60s, Peter, Paul & Mary helped launched many a young songwriter's career with their tender, harmony-driven treatments. That was certainly the case with Lightfoot, whose Early Morning Rain they also covered. But for our money it's gotta be For Lovin' Me, Lightfoot's kiss-off to an unlucky ex-lover.

2. Ribbon of Darkness - Marty Robbins

Lightfoot also got an early boost from Nashville superstar Marty Robbins, who -- in addition to being aces with outlaw country stuff -- proved himself to be a skilled interpreter of other people's material with this fairly spooky take on Ribbon of Darkness, Lightfoot's hippified lament to a lost love.

3. Early Morning Rain - Bob Dylan

One of the most-covered tracks in Lightfoot's canon (you'll see what we mean in a minute), this one found its way to Zimmy's Self Portrait album in 1971. Surprisingly well-enunciated, it benefits further from bluesy harmonica and a kicky high-hat.

4. Cotton Jenny - Anne Murray

Call her schmaltzy, out-of-touch, even the helmet-haired precursor to k.d. lang's gym-teacher chic. But there's no denying the power of Anne Murray's crystalline voice, nor her place in the Can-pop pantheon alongside Neil, Joni, Stompin' Tom and Gord. There's also no escaping Anne's countrified, highly infectious version of Cotton Jenny. Resistance, we've found, is futile.

5. Early Morning Rain - Elvis Presley

Those of us born after a certain date are probably most familiar with the version of this tune that wound up on The King's Elvis In Concert double-album around 1977. Presley wraps his mournful pipes around yet another Lightfoot song about leaving a loved one. (Is anyone else starting to see a pattern here?) The Grateful Dead's version is also pretty cool, by the way.

6. Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald - Rheostatics

There are many who'd consider it sacrilege to start mucking about with Lightfoot's six-minute epic about the fate that befell the titular ship in 1975. But if you're gonna mess with tradition, it helps if you're an iconoclastic indie-rock act like the Rheostatics, who delivered a nearly nine-minute cover for their 1991 disc Melville.

7. Song For a Winter's Night - Sarah McLachlan

First found on a compilation of live cuts and rarities from McLachlan's pre-Lilith period, this seasonal gem finds Sarah pining for a lover whose company she's been without for too long. The lyrics are such that you can almost smell the wood of the snow-locked cabin she's probably holed up in, and all the references to winter mean the song can double as a Christmas carol in a pinch.

8. Black Day In July - Tragically Hip

Call it the clash of the Canadian titans. On 2003's Beautiful: A Tribute to Gordon Lightfoot, God's own bar band -- The Tragically Hip -- rip up this song written in the wake of the 1967 Detroit riots. Gord Downie sounds suitably pissed as he rails about Motor City madness, while the rest of the Hip lay down a train-like groove the other Gord would surely approve of.

9. Sundown - Ron Sexsmith

Sexsmith also covered Drifters on the Beautiful comp, but it's his live treatment of Sundown -- Lightfoot's ode to a certain sexy minx -- on which he really stakes his claim to what he cheekily refers to as "the Canadian national anthem."

10. If You Could Read My Mind - Johnny Cash

Almost a decade after the cringe-worthy disco version that graced the 54 soundtrack, the Man in Black comes along and strikes it from the record with this heartbreaking cut from his latest American Recordings instalment. Backed by a distant organ, acoustic guitar, and intermittent piano, Cash spins a tale of woe so heartfelt he nearly chokes on his words when he gets to the part about "the ending (being) just too hard to take." For him and all of us, as it turned out.
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Old 10-07-2006, 07:49 AM   #2
Auburn Annie
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October 7, 2006

Top 10 Gordon Lightfoot cover tunes

By DAVID SCHMEICHEL - Winnipeg Sun

Is there anything more Canadian than Gordon Lightfoot? Beer? Maybe. Hockey? It's debatable.

But even those who don't drink and can't stand sports probably have memories of sitting in a cabin at dusk or driving down some lonely stretch of the Trans-Canada while Lightfoot -- in that immediately identifiable, unassuming baritone of his -- droned on about the railroad, the Edmund Fitzgerald or that woman creepin' 'round his back stair.

We're obviously not the only ones who think so. It seems every Canadian performer has seen fit to cover Lightfoot, usually with the respect reserved for elderly relatives or visiting royalty.

Producer David Foster says, "Lightfoot's voice is such a part of the fabric of Canada, I know it almost as well as I know my own," while singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith says Lightfoot looms so large in his life, he never travels without his albums.

But those south of our borders have also cottoned on, with acts as diverse as Elvis Presley, Eddie Vedder, Barbra Streisand and even Bob Dylan lending their distinctive voices to Lightfoot's words. "Every time I hear a song of his," Dylan once said, "it's like I wish it would last forever."

Ditto for us, although we've pretty much worn out our copy of Gord's Gold. As an alternative, we've compiled this little mix-tape for you, of some of our favourite cover versions of classic Lightfoot tracks:

1. For Lovin' Me - Peter, Paul & Mary

Now they're remembered more for that kiddie song about the dragon but in the early '60s, Peter, Paul & Mary helped launched many a young songwriter's career with their tender, harmony-driven treatments. That was certainly the case with Lightfoot, whose Early Morning Rain they also covered. But for our money it's gotta be For Lovin' Me, Lightfoot's kiss-off to an unlucky ex-lover.

2. Ribbon of Darkness - Marty Robbins

Lightfoot also got an early boost from Nashville superstar Marty Robbins, who -- in addition to being aces with outlaw country stuff -- proved himself to be a skilled interpreter of other people's material with this fairly spooky take on Ribbon of Darkness, Lightfoot's hippified lament to a lost love.

3. Early Morning Rain - Bob Dylan

One of the most-covered tracks in Lightfoot's canon (you'll see what we mean in a minute), this one found its way to Zimmy's Self Portrait album in 1971. Surprisingly well-enunciated, it benefits further from bluesy harmonica and a kicky high-hat.

4. Cotton Jenny - Anne Murray

Call her schmaltzy, out-of-touch, even the helmet-haired precursor to k.d. lang's gym-teacher chic. But there's no denying the power of Anne Murray's crystalline voice, nor her place in the Can-pop pantheon alongside Neil, Joni, Stompin' Tom and Gord. There's also no escaping Anne's countrified, highly infectious version of Cotton Jenny. Resistance, we've found, is futile.

5. Early Morning Rain - Elvis Presley

Those of us born after a certain date are probably most familiar with the version of this tune that wound up on The King's Elvis In Concert double-album around 1977. Presley wraps his mournful pipes around yet another Lightfoot song about leaving a loved one. (Is anyone else starting to see a pattern here?) The Grateful Dead's version is also pretty cool, by the way.

6. Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald - Rheostatics

There are many who'd consider it sacrilege to start mucking about with Lightfoot's six-minute epic about the fate that befell the titular ship in 1975. But if you're gonna mess with tradition, it helps if you're an iconoclastic indie-rock act like the Rheostatics, who delivered a nearly nine-minute cover for their 1991 disc Melville.

7. Song For a Winter's Night - Sarah McLachlan

First found on a compilation of live cuts and rarities from McLachlan's pre-Lilith period, this seasonal gem finds Sarah pining for a lover whose company she's been without for too long. The lyrics are such that you can almost smell the wood of the snow-locked cabin she's probably holed up in, and all the references to winter mean the song can double as a Christmas carol in a pinch.

8. Black Day In July - Tragically Hip

Call it the clash of the Canadian titans. On 2003's Beautiful: A Tribute to Gordon Lightfoot, God's own bar band -- The Tragically Hip -- rip up this song written in the wake of the 1967 Detroit riots. Gord Downie sounds suitably pissed as he rails about Motor City madness, while the rest of the Hip lay down a train-like groove the other Gord would surely approve of.

9. Sundown - Ron Sexsmith

Sexsmith also covered Drifters on the Beautiful comp, but it's his live treatment of Sundown -- Lightfoot's ode to a certain sexy minx -- on which he really stakes his claim to what he cheekily refers to as "the Canadian national anthem."

10. If You Could Read My Mind - Johnny Cash

Almost a decade after the cringe-worthy disco version that graced the 54 soundtrack, the Man in Black comes along and strikes it from the record with this heartbreaking cut from his latest American Recordings instalment. Backed by a distant organ, acoustic guitar, and intermittent piano, Cash spins a tale of woe so heartfelt he nearly chokes on his words when he gets to the part about "the ending (being) just too hard to take." For him and all of us, as it turned out.
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Old 10-07-2006, 08:26 AM   #3
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Auburn Annie - you scooped me! Here at 9:00 am I was ready to paste in the same article from the 'Toronto Sun'. Always someone sharper in the Lightfoot drawer of tools than me!

Great Article!

Yuri
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Old 10-07-2006, 10:59 AM   #4
Auburn Annie
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I don't know about sharper - just up earlier; always been a lark, awake at 3,4,5 am and usually online around 7.
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Old 10-07-2006, 10:59 AM   #5
Auburn Annie
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I don't know about sharper - just up earlier; always been a lark, awake at 3,4,5 am and usually online around 7.
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Old 10-07-2006, 11:41 AM   #6
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lol
my paper is at home in the porch...delivered at 3 a.m.you could greet the delivery guy annie!
lol
i'll cut it out when i get home...
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Old 10-07-2006, 11:41 AM   #7
charlene
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lol
my paper is at home in the porch...delivered at 3 a.m.you could greet the delivery guy annie!
lol
i'll cut it out when i get home...
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Old 10-07-2006, 01:53 PM   #8
Auburn Annie
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Hey I *have* seen our delivery guy around 3:15 am; he drives a red pick-up truck. Oddly enough the dog doesn't bark at him but does bark at anybody else who comes onto the porch in broad daylight.
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Old 10-07-2006, 01:53 PM   #9
Auburn Annie
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Hey I *have* seen our delivery guy around 3:15 am; he drives a red pick-up truck. Oddly enough the dog doesn't bark at him but does bark at anybody else who comes onto the porch in broad daylight.
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Old 10-07-2006, 02:14 PM   #10
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I just read this article on a news site and thought I'd head over here to see if anyone had posted it. If I were a gambling man I'd have won, as I figured Char or Annie would beat me to it.
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Old 10-07-2006, 05:36 PM   #11
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"Droned on" ??!!
Someone tie that guy to a chair & make him listen to CRT 20 times in a row! :D LOL!

The nerrrrrrrve!

Nice article though.
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Old 10-10-2006, 09:45 AM   #12
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I don't disagree with putting Ron Sexsmith's cover of Sundown on the list, but I've got to say that his Drifters is most excellent. I'd give an honorable mention to Maria Muldaur's That Same Old Obsession off the same tribute CD--truly heart-rending.
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