Gordon (Meredith) Lightfoot Critical Essays


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Gordon (Meredith) Lightfoot 1938–

Canadian songwriter.

Lightfoot is one of the few songwriters who emerged during the folk music revival of the early 1960s and is still successful. Critics attribute his enduring popularity to his ability to elevate ordinary subjects into meaningful lyrics. Lightfoot's best works are ballads about the history and natural splendor of Canada, and his travel songs are described as compassionate, eloquent, and honest. His recent albums also include songs of bittersweet love affairs, possibly reflecting his troubled private life.

Lightfoot was a major figure in Canadian folk music several years before he became well known in the United States. He first gained attention for his compositions "For Lovin' Me" and "Early Morning Rain," which were recorded by Peter, Paul, and Mary and became popular successes. Lightfoot gained international recognition with the release of "If You Could Read My Mind" in 1970, but his most important popular breakthrough came in 1974 with the success of Sundown. The songs on this album explore social, sexual, and spiritual topics, and the imagery has been described as evocative and graphic. Although Lightfoot has yet to match the commercial success of Sundown, his graceful, honest lyrics continue to touch the emotions of his ever-growing following.