If You Could Read My Mind
Initially released as Sit Down Young Stranger, this album was re-titled when “If You Could Read My Mind” became a sizable radio hit. Lightfoot’s presence as a Canadian folk-singing songwriter was well known in musical circles, but this album began the subtle transition into one of the biggest stars of the ‘70s soft-rock era. Lightfoot takes on Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee” with notably less histrionics than Janis Joplin. “Minstrel of the Dawn,” with a string arrangement from Randy Newman, is an elegant and stately classic. The country flow of “Saturday Clothes” and the simple elliptical folk sway of “Cobwebs & Dust” are easily overlooked, sandwiched in between the better-known works. Much of the album is recorded as a simple trio, augmented in strategic spots by Ry Cooder on mandolin, John Sebastian on autoharp and Van Dyke Parks on harmonium. Like James Taylor’s Sweet Baby James, Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush, Carole King’s Tapestry and Joni Mitchell’s Blue, If You Could Read My Mind belongs to and transcends its time and place to become an ageless classic.