|1. Race Among the Ruins|
|2. Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald|
|3. I'm Not Supposed to Care|
|4. I'd Do It Again|
|5. Never Too Close|
|7. House You Live In|
|8. Summertime Dream|
|9. Spanish Moss|
|10. Too Many Clues in This Room|
"The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" is a song that will chill you to the bone, especially if you've lived near the Big Lake, as I have, and know how menacing it can be. (Incidentally, this song was acknowledged in the film "High Fidelity" as the best song ever about death.)
"Edmund Fitzgerald" is such a monster that it tends to dwarf everything else on the album, yet Lightfoot did a very good job of coming up with songs that compliment it. The opener, "Race Among the Ruins," has morbid lyrics that belie its jaunty tune, immediately creating an atmosphere of irony and foreboding. Two later tracks, "Protocol" and "Too Many Clues in This Room," are very dark both musically and lyrically, and both make allusions to ill-fated sailors.
The rest is a mixture of melancholy songs about relationships gone wrong and bouncy tunes about the simple joys of life. None of them are great, but they are all good--the kind of songs that will sound as good years from now as they do when you first hear this disc. (I should know--I've had a vinyl copy of this album for about 15 years, and I still listen to it.)
The lyrics are uniformly solid and sometimes outstanding. "Never Too Close," for example, could be a song about divorce, with its opening line, "I remember when best friends were jealous lovers." The suggestion is that the singer has gotten past his regrets and his hurt feelings and is ready to accept the other person as a friend. It's a fine line to walk in a song, but Lightfoot succeeds, as usual, with seeming effortlessness. Still, I bet this song was harder to write than it appears.
The "Summertime Dream" poem on the album sleeve (or CD booklet), I have to admit, is pretty corny, but what the heck, nobody's forcing you to read it, so take it for what it is. It helps to think of it as a poem that was written by a non-poet--probably someone who works hard for a living and is taking a moment to appreciate the little things. And I guess that's what the album is about: being thankful for what you have because sometimes the world can be mighty cold.