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Music of a Lifetime #11 - Gordon Lightfoot - "Sunday Clothes"

When I was in my teens, there was a group of singer-songwriters that had a huge influence on my music taste and (at the time) performing, John Prine, Steve Goodman, Kris Kristofferson and Gordon Lightfoot.

Lightfoot, in particular, was a true gem. He emerged in the early 60's around the Toronto folk scene and later moved to Britain to host a BBC Country and Western show. Four 1960's albums found success in Canada and established him as one of the foremost folk artists.

I discovered him, as most Americans did, with his 1971 hit "If You Could Read My Mind". I was enamored with his voice but, even more, with the complexity of some of his songs. Folk music (and rock, for that matter) very much revolved around songs that contained just three or four chords. Lightfoot not only wrote for more, but also explored chord structures that were rarely heard in folk music. That complexity most likely dated back to his late-50's study of jazz composition at a California university, opening him up to a world rarely explored by his contemporaries.

Today, Lightfoot still tours. His smooth voice is much more ragged but the songs and spirit still shine through.