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Old 05-23-2014, 08:55 AM   #1
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 15,639
Default SUNDOWN 40 years ago

June 22-1974-40 years ago -

Producer: Lenny Waronker

Track listing: Somewhere U.S.A. / High and Dry / Seven Island Suite / Circle of Steel / Is There Anyone Home / The Watchman’s Gone / Sundown / Carefree Highway / The List / Too Late for Prayin’

June 22, 1974
2 weeks

When Sundown knocked Paul McCartney & Wings’ Band on the Run from the Number One spot, it was a particularly sweet victory for Gordon Lightfoot. “That kind of bemused me, because in 1963, when I was just starting out, along come the Beatles and boy, they just blew everybody away,” he says.

Born on November 17, 1938, in Orillia, Ontario, Lightfoot began singing at the age of eight. By 11, he was a soloist for his church choir. Although confident with his singing, Lightfoot felt his piano playing could be better. In 1958, while reading a copy of Down Beat, he saw an ad for a course in contemporary jazz music theory at the Los Angeles?based Westlake college and soon journeyed to California.

Upon returning to Canada, a live recording of the Weavers spurred Lightfoot to trade the piano and romantic jazz for an acoustic guitar and folk music. Influenced by Pete Seeger, Bob Gibson, and Bob Dylan, Lightfoot took to performing with a renewed vengeance. Albert Grossman, who managed Dylan and Peter, Paul, & Mary, soon took Lightfoot on as a client.

In 1966, he was signed to United Artists Records, but at this stage Lightfoot was known primarily as a songwriter, as Peter, Paul & Mary had scored a top 30 hit in 1965 with his “For Lovin’ Me.”

In February 1971, he scored his first hit under his own name, “If You Can Read My Mind,” which climbed to number five and propelled his first Reprise album, Sit Down Young Stranger, to number 12. Three albums followed over the next three years, but all failed to top that success.

For Sundown, Lightfoot recalls: “I had pretty good working conditions. I was living on a farm north of Toronto and I had a real good go at writing. I wrote the whole album in two or three months. But I kind of wondered at that point if we were going to have another big album. I was working away, but it was always tough.”

Making things even tougher was Lightfoot’s personal life. “It was a really strange time in my life,” he recalls. “I was in a really difficult relationship with a woman.” It was that relationship that inspired the title track.

Recorded at Eastern Sound Studios in Toronto in approximately a week, Sundown featured a group of musician that had been playing together for five years, but it also marked a change. “We hadn’t used a drummer very much up to that point,” he says. “We were still real folky.”

Drummer Jim Gordon traveled up north with producer Lenny Waronker and engineer Lee Herschberg. As Lightfoot explains, “It was their turn to travel. We were like a couple of hockey teams getting together and we were on home ice.”

With Sundown complete, Lightfoot hit the touring circuit. While performing in Belfast, Ireland, “The promoter announced from the stage at the end of the show that the album had just gone Number One in Billboard,” he recalls. I just couldn’t believe it.” A week later, the title track topped the Hot 100 as the album held at Number One. “Carefree Highway,” also from Sundown, made the top 10 as well.

Week of June 22, 1974

Sundown, Gordon Lightfoot
Band on the Run, Paul McCartney & Wings
The Sting, Soundtrack
Buddha & the Chocolate Box, Cat Stevens
Maria Muldaur, Maria Muldaur
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Old 05-23-2014, 09:01 PM   #2
Lisa J
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Default Re: SUNDOWN 40 years ago

oh, i remember the release of that album well! i was pretty much "in LOVE" with gordon by then, having fallen in love with only his voice and his music because I didn't know what he looked like. I was in 9th grade and during a free period in school, I would walk to the record store and look for anything Gordon. One day "Sundown" was waiting for me when I got there and I got to see Gordon for the first time. What an incredible cover photo that album has! I bought that album, took it back to school and bought every single album that followed. Thanks, Char, for this article. It brought back some sweet memories for me.
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Old 05-23-2014, 10:09 PM   #3
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Default Re: SUNDOWN 40 years ago

hey char, that website jumped the gun a month early! lol… they should have done something for DQ two years ago!!!… i haven't heard a thing more about the Harbourfront tribute… we can't make it anyhow… likely an indy promo thing

hey, L… your recollection is a great read…the best stuff…it reminded me of reading Wayne's (our website hero … …check his Profile and music links to his own stuff) recollections about each album being a "sign post"

"Looking back, each album is like a signpost, stirring vivid memories of the circumstances surrounding the point I was at in my life when the album was released. Some cases in point - taking up guitar (Back Here On Earth); my first summer job (Sit Down Young Stranger); leaving home for the first time to attend university (Sundown); that idyllic, yet bittersweet summer of 1976 (Summertime Dream); a year spent travelling (Endless Wire); birth of my first child (Waiting For You). I can remember as a high school student, saving my money to buy Don Quixote and when the day finally came to make the purchase, I awoke to a freak April snowstorm and can clearly remember walking up the middle of the street to the record store because the sidewalks weren't yet shovelled. Or while changing trains in Montreal in 1975, I wandered into a store to pass the time, only to find the brand new Cold On The Shoulder staring back from the shelves! These are just examples, but every album is etched firmly in my conscience, from the day I first layed my eyes and hands on it in the store, through those first critical listening sessions - always privately, to soak up every new nuance of word and music without distraction, the time and place in my life forever colouring how I hear those particular songs. His music opened the door for me to explore artists like Dylan - and many more too numerous to mention. But to my mind Lightfoot is the epitome of what a singer/songwriter should aspire to be. Watching how he has conducted his career all these years has been an inspiration for me in many aspects of life, even extending far beyond music."

the Sam the Record Man's I would go to by bus on release dates, was on Yonge Street, city limits
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Old 05-26-2014, 07:35 AM   #4
Auburn Annie
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Default Re: SUNDOWN 40 years ago

He played Sundown in concert in Rochester NY on May 3 1974 ... my first Lightfoot concert (also coincidentally my mother's birthday.) It was a community college gym with folding chairs and a makeshift platform for a stage. I remember him being annoyed when mid-song he broke a string and had to stop to fix it. Also played The Auctioneer and (I think) Carefree Highway. I was too enthralled to make a set list lol.
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Old 05-26-2014, 08:25 AM   #5
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Default Re: SUNDOWN 40 years ago

Still my favorite GL album, because of Circle of Steel, Seven Island Suite, & Too Late for Prayin'. Love the whole album , though, & Gord looks awesome on the cover.
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