Gordon (Meredith) Lightfoot Noel Coppage - Essay

Noel Coppage

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

["Old Dan's Records" is] rather a daring album, representing considerable growth, with no accompanying loss of taste or of any of Lightfoot's other virtues. True, one of the most satisfying cuts is It's Worth Believin', the kind of tightly paced ballad—in the tradition of Early Morning Rain and Second Cup of Coffee—that Lightfoot does better than anyone, but most of the rest of this album is not so easily hooked up with preconceptions about what Lightfoot's music is.

My Pony Won't Go is a near-blues thing, with lyrics that metaphorically broach a subject that I don't think pop music has tackled before (no, I won't spoil it for you). Lazy Mornin' has Lightfoot, in the manner of Randy Newman, assuming a viewpoint he does not agree with, that of a complacent suburbanite. That Same Old Obsession draws a subtle unstated parallel with an old hymn that also uses a garden allegorically, and it amounts to a melody that is mildly surprising for Lightfoot and a verse that probes the depths in two directions at once—I can see all sorts of political applications of it, for one thing. (pp. 94, 96)

The obvious clinker is the title song, and there are a few other indications that Lightfoot is feeling his way—but, cowabunga! is he advancing! It's all right to go on believing Lightfoot is the consummate troubadour—an informed, properly biased, sympathetic but moralizing and perceptive voice in a figure of earnestness and strength, with just a touch of swagger—it's all right, but don't let it lead you to underestimate his depth. (p. 96)

Noel Coppage, in his review of "Old Dan's Records," in Stereo Review (copyright © 1973 by Ziff-Davis Publishing Company), Vol. 30, No. 3, March, 1973, pp. 94, 96.