If You Could Read My Mind

Something for the weekend.  If You Could Read My Mind, by the endlessly talented Gordon Lightfoot, who was one of the few musical bright spots in the Seventies of the last century, a kidney stone of a decade in regard to music as in other areas.

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!

17 Responses to If You Could Read My Mind

  1. JACK says:

    Thanks. Haven’t heard this in years. (Maybe since High School!)

  2. bearing says:

    Come on! Seventies music rules!

    Hey hey mama said the way you move
    Gonna make you sweat gonna make you groove!

    Pure poetry!

  3. Mike Petrik says:

    I don’t know about poetry, but LZ were accomplished musicians. Classic rock peaked in the early-mid 70s with the Who, Yes, Moody Blues, Procol Harum, etc., eventually giving away in popular consiousness to the Village People, KC and the Sunshine Band, etc. It was, shall we say, a turn for the worse.

    And yes, Gordon Lightfoot was a terrific songwriter and still is a fine performer. But let’s not forget Judy Collins, Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, and Leonard Cohen and many others who compare well to Lightfoot.

  4. Mike Petrik says:

    And I should mention, Springsteen’s best four albums were (his first four) were all released in the 1970s.

    Notwithstanding the pop music collapse of the late 1970s, overall subsequent decades compare unfavorably. Just my opinion of course.

  5. Donald R. McClarey says:

    The song that sums up the horror that was the vast majority of Seventies mustic:

  6. Mike Petrik says:

    You spent way too much time listening to AM radio.

  7. RL says:

    LOL Mike.

    Anyway, this conversation is like deja vu all over again. 😉


  8. Donald R. McClarey says:

    Fess up Mike! I am sure while you were growing up in Illinois you spent a fair amount of time listening to WLS.

  9. Karl says:

    Dear Don,

    I am a few years older than you so I favor the 50’s and 60’s but I, too, think you are too exacting on the 70’s, at least the early 70’s.

    I listened to WABC in NYC and WCBS-FM after its inception in 1972, I believe.

    Yes, I do remember Fung Fu Fighting.

    I am more a fan of melody than lyrics, which heavily influences my taste. I have heard many songs whose lyrics were made “tolerable” by the melody but very, very rarely the opposite. Perhaps this is one of the reasons I detest Rap music. I also love instrumentals and Classical Music. But, I did like a lot of disco music too.

    Keep up your writing here and not just on the music. Outside of annulments and the related issues to that, I very much enjoy your commentary. Nice choice of a song for this post as well. I remember it well.

  10. Donald R. McClarey says:

    When it comes to Seventies music Karl, I fear that I am not exacting enough.

    Another example of the cesspool that was Seventies music. Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr., gave us the worst Christmas song of all time:

  11. Mike Petrik says:

    You bet, Don, I sure did. WLS (call letters standing for “world’s largest store” dating from its historic Sears ownership) and WCFL were mainstays. But only before I turned 13 in 1970. After that I didn’t know any guys my age who listened to anything but FM. I do admit that top 40 deteriorated dramatically after 1969, and if by 1970s music you mean top 40 then I agree with you. But the early 1970s were also the pinnacle of classic rock, which, while not top 40 has stood the test of time in terms of popularity, and in many cases involved a very high level of artistry and musicianship.

  12. Mike Petrik says:

    RL is right. We’ve certainly had this conversation before. I don’t think we’ll ever convince, Don. I’m not sure he had a proper introduction to Jethro Tull, Yes, the Who, the Moody Blues, Traffic, Jackson Browne, etc. I suspect his memories are centered on Top 40, which overall went from mediocre to awful.

  13. Donald R. McClarey says:

    “I don’t think we’ll ever convince, Don.”

    That is a very safe assumption! 🙂

  14. RL says:

    Indeed Mike. Not to beat a dead horse, but for every trashy song from the 70’s that you can name (from I am Woman to Kung Fu Fighting to Staying Alive), I could name one good/great song you’ve heard from The Who alone. Think of Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. It was on the charts from the moment it was released in 1973 all the way through the 80’s and it’s still one of the top selling albums of all time. Its commercial success is not due to fads or flaky sentiment – it’s just great stuff that transcends generations.

    Another thing, I can’t think of a decade or time period in our lifetime that hasn’t seen the same sort of thing. The 50’s and 60’s had it’s share of the banal (Monster Mash, Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie
    Yellow Polka Dot Bikini, etc.).

    The only stuff I really like from the 80’s is what was released by artists who were around in the 60’s and 70’s, save Marillion who’s first album was in 83, but they’re a 70’s influenced prog-rock band. Though, I have a higher tolerance for 80’s music now than I did back then – sort of a nostalgia thing now. The last two decades are worse than ever, IMO. I may own a couple albums from the 90’s, but again, they’re from established artists from decades before.

  15. Elaine Krewer says:

    “I am sure while you were growing up in Illinois you spent a fair amount of time listening to WLS.”

    I certainly did some of the time (who can forget “Uncle Larry” Lujack’s “Animal Stories”?) but I actually spent more time listening to WMAQ, which at that time was a country station. However, their definition of “country” was pretty flexible; I can recall them playing “If You Could Read My Mind” and other Gordon Lightfoot songs, along with stuff by Olivia Newton John, Emmylou Harris, etc.

    Of course, those older than we may recall that WLS was a country station before it was Top 40, and was the home of the “National Barn Dance” program.

  16. Don the Kiwi says:

    Hey Don.

    I’m got heaps of supporters here for my defense of 70’s music some months ago. Any musical era has its greatness along with its disasters – the higher they go, the converse also applies.

    As I have mentioned before, for someone who hates the 70’s, you are sure doing a great job proving to us the greatness of that era.

    Its okay mate, I probably like the stuff you like too 🙂

  17. Donald R. McClarey says:

    We probably do like much of the same stuff from the Seventies Don, as long as we avoid discussing, shudder, John, here I spit, Denver! 🙂

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