REVIEW: Gordon Lightfoot – Summertime Dream (1976)

GORDON LIGHTFOOT – Summertime Dream (1976 Reprise)

Immediately after Gord’s Gold provided Lightfoot fans with a collection of old and re-recorded hits, Gord made another one:  “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald“.  This mighty song dominated the radiowaves for years over all over the Great White North, arguably granting Lightfoot his most memorable song in his history.  His earlier material from Gord’s Gold and before might be considered the pinnacle of his album-making career, but Summertime Dream isn’t too shabby.

Opening with the musically upbeat “Race Among the Ruins”, but lyrically there is warning here.  “If you plan to face tomorrow, do it soon.”  Don’t let time pass you by.

The nautical disaster song “Edmund Fitzgerald” is second, a mostly historically accurate accounting (within reason) of a great lakes shipwreck.  The great lakes shipwreck.  The stinging guitar lick repeats while the harrowing lyrics induce chills.  Guitarist Terry Clements performed that unmistakable, haunting guitar part, the one that little Canadian kids were dying to learn how to play in their youths.  Did they have any idea they were recording such a timeless song when they were laying down the tracks?  Every feeling, every emotion, every creak of steel and wood can be absorbed through the grooves.  The way Lightfoot paints a picture with words, you feel as if were there. Gene Martynec, who played synth on Lou Reed’s Berlin album, provided light keyboard accents here. You’d miss them if they were gone.

A tender ballad, “I’m Not Supposed to Care”, gently caresses the soul with its light backdrop of pedal steel guitar.  Then, edgier electric guitars back up “I’d Do It Again”, a laid back groove with a country foundation and a rock veneer.  “Never Too Close” also shines with shimmery guitar melodies and a stunning chorus.  Then the somber “Protocol” is a war ballad ranging from days past to the Vietnam War.  “The House You Live In” showcases more pedal steel tones with a warm tune and laid back tempo.  The single “Summertime Dream” is upbeat and bright, recalling hot happy youthful days.  “Spanish Moss” is another lovely song, painting pictures of landscapes we’d like to see. Finally, “Too Many Clues In This Room” closes the album on a dark note, with lyrics aluding to both space and sea exploration.

Not Gordon’s most captivating album, but one without any skips, and one absolute monster of a song.

3.5/5 stars



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