GORDAN LIGHTFOOT: IF YOU CAN READ MY MIND
(director/writer: Martha Kehoe, Joan Tosoni; cinematographer: Kristoff Rochon; editor: Alex Shuper; music: John Welsman; cast: Gordon Lightfoot, Geddy Lee, Sarah McLachan, Tom Cochrane, Ronnie Hawkins, Anne Murray, Ian Tyson, Sylvia Tyson, Lenny Waronker, Rick Haynes, Mike Heffernan, Barry Keane, Carter Lancaster Alex Baldwin; Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Martha Kehoe, Joan Tosoni; Greenwich Entertainment; 2019-Canada)
“Conventional and tasteful documentary on the now 81-year-old legendary Canadian singer/songwriter.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Martha Kehoe and Joan Tosoni co-direct this conventional and tasteful documentary on the now 81-year-old legendary Canadian singer/songwriter Gordon Lightfoot, who has been since the 1960s one of my favorite folk singers. He has a magnificent distinctive voice and his songs are lyrical. “If You Could Read My mind” was the song and album which made him internationally famous.
The movie is an exploration of the singer’s career, music, and influence. Some call him some kind of purist for commercial music. Whatever, he must be doing something right as his career spans some 60 years, from the time he moved to Los Angeles from Toronto and was influenced by the music of Woodie Guthrie and Peter Seeger (Just like his friend Bob Dylan).
The film opens with apologies for the way in his early days he mistreated women as a married man with two kids, who was a serial adulterer and offers regrets for the sexism of his early hit “For Lovin’ Me.” This is no squeaky clean pop star idol, but someone owning up to his past errors: including a dark period of heavy drinking, and of being with Cathy Smith, who several years later fatally injected John Belushi with a speedball and was convicted.
From the many musicians interviewed, there are so many gushes about him that sound like the ones he received from Rush’s Geddy Lewis telling how he brought pride to Canada that a singer from there could be so sensitive, Sarah McLachlan lauds him for his immaculate qualities as a musician and Tom Cochrane would put him on a Mount Rushmore in Canada, if there was one.
Lightfoot is always pleasant and frank, and though the film hardly penetrates this complex nice guy, it makes for a good watch for the singer called by many Canadian musicians a national treasure and whose folksongs have him likened to a “poet laureate.” Some of his great songs played are “Early Morning Rain,” “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” and “Song for Winter’s Night.”
The singer is now married again to a woman 25 years his junior. He no longer looks like he did in his prime, as the curly-haired cutesy innocent cowboy-like figure, but has become gaunt and wizened as a singer who has been around the block and thinks he has seen it all.
REVIEWED ON 8/17/2020 GRADE: B+