1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stands the Test of Time
To the eternal frustration of casual Lightfoot fans, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" was recorded a year too late to make it onto "Gord's Gold." This has probably turned out to be a good thing for Lightfoot, as many of those fans have bought "Summertime Dream" and were so impressed that they then began buying his other original albums. This was the last good...
Published on Mar 31 2003 by Greg Cleary
2.0 out of 5 stars What Was He Dreaming About?
I have been a fan of Gord since EDMOND FITZGERALD was played all over the radio in '76 or '77. At the time either I was not aware of all this other stuff on the album, or I didn't much care for it then. WOTEF is the only song of much account. It appears that the other songs show a change in his person, also a move towards the infamous commercialism that fills our current...
Published on Jan 10 2002 by Scott Johnson
Most Helpful First | Newest First
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stands the Test of Time,
This review is from: Summertime Dream (Audio CD)To the eternal frustration of casual Lightfoot fans, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" was recorded a year too late to make it onto "Gord's Gold." This has probably turned out to be a good thing for Lightfoot, as many of those fans have bought "Summertime Dream" and were so impressed that they then began buying his other original albums. This was the last good release in a phenomenal run by Lightfoot that included a dozen albums in ten years. (Unfortunately, Gord would jump the shark with his next one, "Endless Wire.")
"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.
5.0 out of 5 stars Only Lightfoot Could Create a "Dream" Like This,
This review is from: Summertime Dream (Audio CD)Shipwrecks, old seadogs who would storm the gates of hell, a room full of ghosts and desolation, and an ocean of ruins are not exactly the things one would find in a summertime dream, a reference so pure that the listener finds that they've been wonderfully misled once they dive into this, one of Gordon Lightfoot's greatest albums. Irony is something that has always drifted into Lightfoot's music, and has always made it all the more unique. Unfortunately, an ironic fact here is that "Summertime Dream," released in 1976, was the last album of the singer/songwriter's wave of popularity.
In characteristic fashion, Lightfoot ends his era of commercial popularity with a bang, and "Summertime Dream" boasts a body of some of the most solid, conscious songs ever produced in the 70s. Most of the songs here contain some reference to the ocean, a metaphorical symbol that would be cliched with any other artist, but Lightfoot keeps his lyrical prowess flowing like the waters he describes. The first notes of "Summertime Dream" are misleading, as an upbeat tune describes a 'Race Among the Ruins,' one of many Lightfoot songs that should have been more commercially successful than it actually was. The album's biggest hit, the harrowing true story 'The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald' remains popular to this day, and is a lasting example of the soft-spoken folk era gritting its teeth and unleashing a powerful, ominous tale that defies the old acoustic formula. But it doesn't end there, as some of Lightfoot's most stirring imagery unveils itself in 'Too Many Clues in This Room,' and 'Protocol,' but the title track seems to be an honest, lyrically whistful song set amidst such deep tunes as these. There's even some old wisdom appearing in the nearly 40 year old Lightfoot (as of 1976) in 'The House You Live In,' seemingly reflecting New Testament teachings ("And the house you live in will never fall down if you pity the stranger who stands at your gate").
Like most of Gordon Lightfoot's material, this album is more dense and meaningful than his associations with the "folk" genre allow people to realize. "Summertime Dream" may have been among the last of Lightfoot's commercially successful releases, but it certainly wasn't the last breath of his poignancy and musical determination.
5.0 out of 5 stars Crew of the Edmund Fitzgerald,
This review is from: Summertime Dream (Audio CD)I first heard this track,The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,in a ducumentry on the Discovery channel.It struck a cord with me to the battle the crew made to save their ship in the worst storm the great lake had seen.The words and tune stuck in my mind,it is trully a great track and album.
4.0 out of 5 stars Sounds better than ever,
This review is from: Summertime Dream (Audio CD)This album is vintage Lightfoot, and the bard's lyrics, always honest and searching (and sometimes inscrutable and open to multiple interpretations) shine here. This is the album on which The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald appeared, and one sees now how the world of popular music has changed - there is no way a literate, nearly six-minute song about comparatively minor tragedy in the maritime history could appear at the top of the charts again. The power of this tale lies in the slow build up to the wreck and the repetitive musical phrasing, like the constant battering of the good ship by the gale of November 1975, and Lightfoot's easy description of the Great Lakes geography. Other great tunes include the wistful Protocol (about the disappearance of personal heroism and sacrifice and its replacement by an anonymous technological warrior-elite), the advice-laden The House that You Live In, and the Arcadian ditty Summertime Dream. You could take every song here and strip away the music, and then read the lyrics as a poem - they are great. In fact, you can do that with most of Lightfoot's songs. One wonders: where did Gord get his lyrics? He covers so much in his song - history, love, death, ruin, redemption, etc. As a child, did he read a lot? He seems unnaturally wise. I bought this album when it came out in the 1970s, listened to it intensely on a record player, and then it, along with so many other records, were sold when my folks sold their home in the 1990s. I recently bought it as a CD and it sounds even better than ever; as one gets older, Gord's lyrics get richer. Unfortunately, as I am writing this, the bard himself is in bad health, though recovering, prompting one to wonder, as did he in The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours?
5.0 out of 5 stars great music,
This review is from: Summertime Dream (Audio CD)Fans of folk music as well as Rock and Roll will enjoy this. I purchased this CD for "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald", but enjoy the entire cd! It's the kind that you can put on in the background and listen to the entire cd without having to skip tracks or change the cd after 2 songs.
5.0 out of 5 stars It Doesn't Get Much Better,
By A Customer
This review is from: Summertime Dream (Audio CD)This is one of Gordon Lightfoot's most enduring albums. In an era of heavily produced pop albums, Lightfoot jettisoned the strings and production touches of his previous release (Cold on the Shoulder) and went with a stripped-down sound. Apart from a little dash of moog synthesizer, what you hear are basically Lightfoot and his superb band, with minimal overdubbing. The albums features Terry Clements on lead guitar, Rick Haynes on bass, Pee Wee Charles on pedal steel, and Barry Keane on drums and percussion (Keane's addition to the group marked the first time Lightfoot utilized a drummer as part of his working band). Lightfoot is heard--as per usual--on 6 and 12-string guitars, and session ace Jim Gordon (a veteran of the Sundown and Cold on the Shoulder recordings) plays drums on "The House You Live In." The album contains what is--arguably--the song which is the most closely identified with Lightfoot: "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." After all these years, it remains a remarkable piece of work and a terrific recording. If you thought a pedal steel guitar could only be used with country music, listen to the innovative phrasings Pee Wee Charles employs on this track. But "The Wreck..." isn't the only gem on this album. "Race Among the Ruins," is a brilliant piece of songwriting. "The House You Live In" is another quintessentially Lightfoot song--an impossibly infectious melody coupled with his insightful lyricism. "I'm Not Supposed to Care" and "Spanish Moss" are two of the loveliest ballads he's written, and the title track remains one of his most purely fun tunes. There is also the social commentary of "Protocol," and the ethereally ominous "Too Many Clues in This Room." Additionally, while it's rarely mentioned, there is also a movingly beautiful and lyrical poem in the CD booklet entitled "Summertime Dream" which, believe me, is well worth reading.
All in all, Summertime Dream showcases one of the 20th century's great songwriters at the top of his game.
5.0 out of 5 stars I am a Great Lakes Ship Lover so this was a must have,
This review is from: Summertime Dream (Audio CD)When I went looking for a Gordon Lightfoot CD with "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" on it this was the only one the store had so I bought it. I would have preferred to get a greatest hits cd with it on it but they didn't have it. However I do not regret buying this CD. As my first Gordon Lightfoot cd I am very satisfied with the music he put on it.
5.0 out of 5 stars Because I'm an Old Softie?,
This review is from: Summertime Dream (Audio CD)No, that's not it. Sure, there is some sentimental stuff here ("Spanish Moss" and "I'm Not Supposed to Care" leap to mind) but this album is better than that - and the sentimental stuff is good too.
I am not a real big fan of the whole singer/song writer thing...I always get this overwhelming sense of self importantce from guys who sit on stools and play accoustic guitar...as if the fact that they play more bars than arenas is somehow a testament to their sincerity (instead of their inability to draw decent crowds), but Lightfoot never strikes me that way.
Lightfoot manages to avoid the whole "I've seen pain and you should learn from me" attitude many of his ilk foist on their listeners...thank God.
What makes this album great in not the epic-length "Edmund Fitzgerald", (a song for no particular mood whatsoever) but the understated gems that really nail Lightfoot's lyric writing ability. "The House You Live In" and "Stranger Who Stands At Your Door," are both wonderfully lighthanded and profound...and darn cathy too boot.
Either you like troubador thing or you don't...but if you do, Lightfoot has always had an easy and unpretentious way about him, and this is one of his best albums.
2.0 out of 5 stars What Was He Dreaming About?,
This review is from: Summertime Dream (Audio CD)I have been a fan of Gord since EDMOND FITZGERALD was played all over the radio in '76 or '77. At the time either I was not aware of all this other stuff on the album, or I didn't much care for it then. WOTEF is the only song of much account. It appears that the other songs show a change in his person, also a move towards the infamous commercialism that fills our current "music".
Hey, everyone has a bad day, and SUMMERTIME DREAM was Gord's.
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it for Fitzgerald, keep it for everything else,
This review is from: Summertime Dream (Audio CD)Some of my earliest memories included background music of Gordon Lightfoot, whose songs rarely missed AM radio in the mid- to late seventies. As a youngster I always thought his ditties were listenable, but too sad.
Having recently rediscovered Gordon Lightfoot, I now lament that his category of 70's music (which could also include Cat Stevens, Carly Simon, James Taylor and Paul Simon) does not fit so neatly into most current radio formats. It doesn't hit as hard as "classic rock" and certainly is not disco, so most commercial radio does not find time for it. A true shame, too, because Lightfoot's combination of rich lyrics and and smooth, weathered vocals combine for music free of gimmicks and filler. Although the 70's was a pinnacle for musical excesses, Lightfoot shunned the tired refrains and lame instrumental solos. Hence each song feels tight and all of a piece.
Although Race Among the Ruins is my personal favorite, there is not a weak track on the album, and very few in Lightfoot's body of work.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
Summertime Dream by Gordon Lightfoot (Audio CD - 1987)