If You Could Read My Mind
Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
With only an acoustic guitar, an earnest rhythm section, and a cocksure baritone, Gordon Lightfoot sounded manlier than any leather-clad rocker toting a Les Paul and Marshall Stack combo. His 1974 household hit “Sundown” opens this Rhino Hi-Five EP. Once you get under its catchiness, this song's brilliance thrives in the contrast between its playful, sing-along melody and shadowy lyrics (which purportedly mused on Lightfoot’s ex-girlfriend). “If You Could Read My Mind," with a subtly lush string accompaniment, follows and swells under Lightfoot’s emotional restraint. The similarly arranged “Beautiful” is lighter; without succumbing to building pedestals or other clichéd fawning, Lightfoot’s lyrics touch on what it’s really like to fall in love with a friend. “Carefree Highway” is another distinguished hit, where Lightfoot ingeniously personifies the road with lyrics meditating on an old flame as he digs through old memories to find some semblance of closure. The EP closes with “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” a folky epic that Lightfoot champions as his best work.