Sunday, April 29, 2007

Gordon Lightfoot - Beautiful

Gordon Lightfoot - "Beautiful"

When it comes to Gordon Lightfoot, most casual listeners only know "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" or "Sundown," both huge hits in their day, still well-known today. The problem is, they never achieved any kind of longrunning catalog success for him like James Taylor or Jim Croce have enjoyed. Gord is still an icon, just not one that most classic rock-listening teens are aware of, and I shudder to think of what his presence on college jukeboxes across the county has become. "Wreck" and "Sundown" aside, he had lots of other hits too, enough to fill out two Gord's Gold collections and a pretty cool boxed set, too. Unfortunately, this is lost of almost everyone living south of Ontario.

"Beautiful," originally from his 1972 album Don Quixote, sounds far too mellow to be a single, but it actually charted at #58. It's a departure from his usual dusty folk sound, with a sparse, Nick Drake-feel in the gentle string arrangements that accompany his solo guitar playing. When I saw him almost two years ago, this was the song that opened the second half of his set. A full band accompanied him on most songs, but when he came out for "Beautiful," all he had was a stool and his guitar. I wish I had a recording of the performance so I could experience it again, and at the very least, I wish that I could describe how it made me feel without resorting to phrases like... it was shocking.

Apparently "Beautiful" was featured in Vincent Gallo's The Brown Bunny, which I haven't seen but already know much more about than I'd like to. It might even play during, well, that part, for all I know. What I do know is that someone needs to do a shoegazer version of this right now. Just imagine My Bloody Valentine covering this. It would sound like "Moon Song" but even better.

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