If You Could Read My Mind – Gordon Lightfoot

THIS DAY IN MUSIC……………………………on February 20th of 1971 Gordon Lightfoots folk ballad “If You Could Read My Mind” peaks at #5 on Billboard. One of Lightfoot’s most personal songs, this is about the breakup of his first marriage – a common theme in many of his songs. In the liner notes of his boxed set Songbook, he describes it as “A song about the failure of marriage.” Written in 1969, the song has been recorded more than 100 times, first by Lightfoot himself for “Sit Down Young Stranger”. The album was not a commercial success, but after the song reached #5 on the US singles chart in 1971, the album was renamed after the song and re-released, reaching #12 in the pop charts.Other recordings include those by Carroll Baker, Glen Campbell, The Bells, Johnny Mathis, Liza Minelli, Barbara Streisand and Andy Williams. Instrumental arrangements have been recorded by Herb Alpert, John Arpin, James Last, The Boss Brass and others. Johnny Cash covered this song on his last album before he died: American V: A Hundred Highways. Lightfoot has cited his divorce for inspiring the lyrics,[2] saying they came to him as he was sitting in a vacant Toronto house one summer.[3] At the request of his daughter, Ingrid, he performs the lyrics with a slight change now: the line “I’m just trying to understand the feelings that you lack” is altered to “I’m just trying to understand the feelings that we lack.” He has said in an interview that the difficulty with writing songs inspired by personal stories is that there is not always the emotional distance and clarity to make lyrical improvements such as the one his daughter suggested. The song reached #30 in the UK.