Why does Dylan like Gordon Lightfoot?

by Aaron and Tony.

As ever the research is by Aaron Galbraith and the commentary is from Tony Attwood (but you probably know that by now)

Gordon Lightfoot  was very much part of the folk-rock world which influenced Bob Dylan in his early years as a performer, and on through his life.

“Early Morning Rain” achieved popularity because it told a story that many could relate to, whether the simple events told therein had happened to them or not.  It was created as songs were starting to have lyrics that meant something more than the early rock n roll and traditional country works and was very much central to that evolution.

Gordon Lightfoot’s work has been both highly regarded and highly successful through his career and the songs have been covered by everyone from Elvis Presley to Johnny Cash from Jerry Lee Lewis to Neil Young, from Judy Collins to the Grateful Dead.   It was obvious that Bob would be interested.

Indeed Bob called him, “one of his favourite composers”.  He has subsequently received many honours and was featured at the opening of the 1988 Winter Olympics in Canada.

This is the original Early Morning Rain, one of his most famous songs… do play this by clicking the link if you are not familiar with his music.   It is one of the songs that if you were interested in the songs of the era you will not just remember but know by heart.   We all heard it and those of us who aimed to be folk singers would perform it.  (I don’t think my parents appreciated me singing the “cold and drunk as I might be” line).

In an oft-quoted comment, Dylan said that when he heard a Gordon Lightfoot song he wished “it would last forever”

Another international number 1 is “If you could read my mind” – an utterly exquisite song that works as beautifully and painfully now as it did 1970.

This piece from Wiki gives an insight…

“Lightfoot has cited his divorce for inspiring the lyrics, saying they came to him as he was sitting in a vacant Toronto house one summer. At the request of his daughter, Ingrid, he performs the lyrics with a slight change now: the line “I’m just trying to understand the feelings that you lack” is altered to “I’m just trying to understand the feelings that we lack.”  (This version doesn’t).

He has said in an interview that the difficulty with writing songs inspired by personal stories is that there is not always the emotional distance and clarity to make lyrical improvements such as the one his daughter suggested.”

Moving on to “I’m Not Supposed To Care” –  Bob first attempted it in 1989 in the studio, and then he brought it out for 3 live appearances in 1998, once in Toronto with the songs writer watching on from the audience.

I think you have somebody waiting 
Outside in the rain to take you away
You got places to go, you got people to see 
Still I'm gonna miss you 
But anyway

I wish you good spaces in 
The far away places you go
If it rains or it snows may 
You be safe and warm and never grow old
And if you need someone who loves you, why
You know I will always be there
I'll do it although I'm not supposed to care

I'll give you the keys to 
My flying machine if you'd like
I will show you the light and when you call 
I'm gonna come to you
And when you find someone who loves you, 
I'll know you would treat me the same
Just lie there, you're not supposed to care

I think you have somebody waiting 
Outside in the rain to take you away. 
That's some kind of a game 
Still I'm glad it came down 
To the final round
But anyway

If you think you need someone who needs you, 
You know I will always be there 
I'll do it although I'm not supposed to care
I'll do it although I'm not supposed to care

The 89 studio version…


And the live Toronto version


As you can hear it had mutated and evolved for Bob over the performances.

Bob played it just three times between 13 May 1998 and 29 October 1998.

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