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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive compilation of the Minstrel of the Dawn's work
Many in the music business call Gordon Lightfoot the "Minstrel of the Dawn," and this box set only scratches the surface as to why that is. His social conscience and his love for the environment is more than obvious in his songs, but what also comes through is his strong faith and that the two concepts are not at all contradictory.
The liner notes...
Published on April 13 2005 by Robert Pavlacic

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gordon Lightfoot Songbook- Review
I would like to start this review with a formal apologize to Mr. Lightfoot and all the great fellow fans for giving the "Songbook" box set only 3 stars. I bought my copy about half a year ago, just about the official release date. My decision was- to review it only now, after monitoring the amount of airtime this box set gets at my home.
At first, I...
Published on Feb. 19 2000


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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gordon Lightfoot Songbook- Review, Feb. 19 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Songbook (Audio CD)
I would like to start this review with a formal apologize to Mr. Lightfoot and all the great fellow fans for giving the "Songbook" box set only 3 stars. I bought my copy about half a year ago, just about the official release date. My decision was- to review it only now, after monitoring the amount of airtime this box set gets at my home.
At first, I listened to it quite a lot, enjoying immensely all the previously unreleased songs. But as time past, I noticed I preferred listening to the original albums rather then the box set. "Songbook" is divided chronological by the fine albums Mr. Lighfoot released over the years, while from each album selected songs were compiled for this set. When I heard one set of songs from a certain album moving on to the next album, I found myself too many times awaiting eagerly my favorite songs from that album, but they weren't selected for the box set.
I've noticed one reviewer giving the set 4 stars instead of 5, due to the absence of one song. I didn't think this was fair, since Mr. Lightfoot has created such a spectacular body of work, that the omission of one song in favor of another is more then understandable. But in my view, about 50% of the song selections should have been made in a different manner (not including the unreleased songs, which I consider as gems). In my mind, too many of Mr. Lightfoots most prominent songs that feature this master tunesmith at his best are absent.
Instead of those songs, inferior songs are present. I found myself too many times skipping songs, only to find out that the songs I am actually seeking for are not available on "Songbook". I found them once again on the original albums, which consumed "Songbook"s airtime.
I feel that each fine album of Mr. Lightfoot has its own unique dynamics, its own soul or spirit if you will. A Lightfoot album is best heard as a whole, the songs connecting with each other. This kind of spirit is definitely absent from this compilation, and I think the reason for it lies with the song selection.
In order to demonstrate my point, I will mention a few songs that in my view HAD to be on "Songbook": "Long River", "Oh, Linda", "Walls", "If You Got It", "A Minor Ballad", "Rosanna", "A Minor Ballad", "Home From The Forrest" (one of Mr. Lightfoots best), "Black Day In July" (in my view, one of the 10 best songs he wrote, and one of his most important songs), "Magnificent Outporing", "Does Your Mother Know", "Marie Christie", "Dont Beat Me Down", "Ballad Of Yarmouth Castle" (one of his best), "Minstrel Of The Dawn", "Miguel" (one of his best), "Talking In Your Sleep" (one of his best), "Christian Island", "Looking At The Rain" one of his best), "Ordinary Man" (featuring an excellent unordinary tune), "Circle Of Steel", "The Watchman's Gone", "To Late For Prayin'", "Rainbow Trout", "I'm Not Supposed To Care", and the list goes on.
I would like to point out that I am not writing this out of spite- compiling 88 songs from this mans incredible body of work is an almost impossible mission (also considering the addition of 16 previously unreleased songs + 2 rare songs), but I really think the song selection didn't do justice to this compilation. Lets take for example one of my most favorite Lightfoot albums: "Endless Wire". Only 2 songs from it are on "Songbook", the title song (a good song indeed, but isn't by any means great) and a re-recorded version of "The Circle Is Small"- that's it. Some of Mr. Lightfoots best songs are on this album, and they definitely should have been on "Songbook", namely "Dreamland" (one of his best) , "If The Children Had Wings" (one of his best), "Hangdog Hotel Room" and a strong case could have been made also for "Daylight Katy". In short, this album was neglected.
Other selections are odd, in that in my mind an inferior song was preferred over a much better song (what is "The Mountains And Maryann" doing here?). I would also like to point out that some more "simpler" songs were selected, that are in many cases the usual suspect for "best of" Lightfoot compilations, but in my view are inferior songs (especially compared to the songs I mentioned above as missing from "Songbook).
One major feature of "Songbook" that I marveled at and makes me proud to own this set is the superb sound quality- simply amazing. It is a joy to hear some of my favorite songs (that are here- don't get me wrong, I said 50%, and not 100% of the song selection is off key) like "Sit Down Young Stranger" at this sound quality- pure pleasure.
Another excellent feature of "Songbook" is the hardcover book, featuring great photos of Mr. Lightfoot throughout his career including comments of the master himself on his songs. Despite this, the packaging of this set would also get 3 stars, in that that it's incomplete. The sleeves of the separate jewel boxes are mere one-page "fliers", that don't do any justice to this set. The sleeve space could have been used as booklets containing more photos, additional material (such as articles about Mr. Lightfoot from trade magazines of that time) or if budget strains won't permit it, than at least the lyrics. After all, Mr. Lightfoot himself said that his songs are like "painting through the use of lyrics"- and those should have been here.
In conclusion, despite the fact that "Songbook" could have been much better, it is a must have for long time fans, with 16 "new" songs and quite a few debuting on CD format with superb sound quality. This is also a must for folks new to Mr. Lightfoot, who can obtain with this item all his major hits and the well known songs.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive compilation of the Minstrel of the Dawn's work, April 13 2005
By 
Robert Pavlacic (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Songbook (Audio CD)
Many in the music business call Gordon Lightfoot the "Minstrel of the Dawn," and this box set only scratches the surface as to why that is. His social conscience and his love for the environment is more than obvious in his songs, but what also comes through is his strong faith and that the two concepts are not at all contradictory.
The liner notes ... actually, a 60 page book included in the set, gives an almost exhaustive review of his career, as well as Lightfoot's own anectodes of the 88 songs that were selected for this collection.
When one plays the first two tracks -- "Remember Me (I'm the One)" and "It's too Late, He Wins," one could be almost fooled into thinking you're hearing Jim Reeves or Pat Boone. (Some friends of mine, who've heard me play this CD, got suckered as well). In truth, those two songs were actually Lightfoot's first hit singles, at least, they were on the country charts. But as the set moves into the next track, "For Loving Me," and goes on in chronological order, one really appreciates the variety and depth of this songwriter, whose music has touched the folk, country and rock genres.
Besides the many hit songs that have become standards ("Early Morning Rain," "Song for a Winter's Night," "Canadian Railroad Trilogy," "Did She Mention My Name," "I'm Not Saying," "Ribbon of Darkness," "If You Could Read My Mind," "Nous Vivons Ensemble," "Alberta Bound," "Sundown," "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," "The Circle is Small," etc, etc); Lightfoot has included the studio recordings of some of his older songs, including an acoustic version of "Bitter Green" (cut at the Bradley Barn in Nashville) that just blew me away for how understated his rendition is. There are also some songs that were, until this set, previously unreleased on any of Lightfoot's albums.
There are, admittedly, some glaring omissions in this box set -- including my favourite track from his 1986 album East of Midnight, "Anything for Love," as well as another favourite of mine, "Saturday Clothes" (that one from the early 70s). But there are also a few surprises as well. Some on this board haved called Canary Yellow Canoe a waste of space, but I found it very funny; and it does show Lightfoot has a funny bone as well.
It's interesting to remember that after Lightfoot signed his then record-breaking record deal with Warner Brothers in 1970 (an unheard of million dollars), his next album was supposed to be called "Sit Down Young Stranger" (the first track on CD 2 in this set), a rant against the Vietnam War ("War is not the answer and men must not die ... "), but the album was renamed when "If You Could Read My Mind" (arguably one of the greatest hurting songs ever) became a monster hit and "Stranger" became one of the more obscure songs in his repertoire. But that song is definitely worth a listen. In these troubled times, it still has the same powerful message.
I think a discerning listening public is thankful that Lightfoot survived his brush with death in 2002; and are delighted that, with all the trash Hollywood and Nashville is giving us today, (not to mention the pathetic East vs West Coast rap war), Lightfoot is touring again. His once soft singing voice may be somewhat gravelly now, but this box set lets us all remember a time when music really was great and songwriters actually cared about the message and not the medium.
Some of the A-listers appreciate those that came before them and put thought into their songs. One can only hope the rest gets this box set and gives it a listen ... then they might wake up.
However, as Lightfoot himself pointed out on Canadian Idol (on a tribute night to his music), his is a different kind of music and it does require some attention when it's being covered. He's got a point: after all, we all remember a certain hip-hop group tried a cover of "Read My Mind" and it was just horrible.
Well worth the price. Get it while it lasts ... this is one of those sets that could very well appreciate in value over time.
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1.0 out of 5 stars All Gord but not all the best, Oct. 21 2011
This review is from: Songbook (Audio CD)
I purchased the Songbook a few years ago and have it my deskdrawer at work. While I hesitate giving it only 1 star, I am doing this due to the selection of songs within the albums. There are songs included which had never before been heard by his 'record buying' public. Why would this be, one might ask?! Well, mostly it's because (in my not so humble opinion) these songs weren't deemed good enough to be included on his albums.

The lesser known songs syncopate as stinkers, disturbing what is otherwise great music. I have seen other reviews indicating that not all of his best has been included. Last point then, given the price of the Songbook, it should only have been Gord's best. (period!)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous collection!, March 2 2003
This review is from: Songbook (Audio CD)
This collection is fascinating how it follows Mr. Lightfoot's career from the very early days til today. The rare bonus songs are mostly from Mr. Lightfoot's archives in Toronto. Chosen by him for this collection. I love the anecdotes that Mr. lightfoot included and the many rare photos are great. I work in a public library and I have to say that this collection is constantly in use since we've acquired it. This is a must have for every Gordon Lightfoot fan.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Gord just keeps them coming, Feb. 27 2003
By 
Kat (Duluth, MN USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Songbook (Audio CD)
Gordon Lightfoot is the most amazing singer/songer writer I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. After growing up with all of his records, my family and I were thrilled to purchase the Box Set of his most memorable (and some brand new) songs. If you don't have this set, I strongly recommend that all true Gordon Lightfoot fans get it as soon as possible! With not a bad song (obviously...I don't believe he has a "bad" song) on the entire set, it's a joy to listen to over and over again. For me, it brings back a lot of childhood memories. Thanks, Gord, for giving us all such wonderful music!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good but not Great, Jan. 25 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Songbook (Audio CD)
Gordon Lighfoot is one of the greatest songwriters and singing artists. Starting with his first United Artist recording, he has touched heart and soul. Having lost those first 4 records, and others, to overwear and finally a flood, was delighted that those were released as a complete collection available on CD. Incredible. Hey, 5 stars and beyond for that collection!
His later recordings with Reprise Records are as wonderful. Know every song and every kind word. What are missing in this collection are many of the those recordings, which I did not realize until after receiving the Song Box Collection. Returned it unopenned. Then ordered all the individual CD's of those years. Delight in each one. So, Lightfoot fans, be sure to check out what is missing.
Gordon Lighfoot is still a beautiful songwriter and had the pleasure of going to a recent concert (2002), being there for some of his old songs and some of his new work. Go Gord!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A superlative survey of an extraordinary career, Sept. 8 2002
By 
Bruce Trinque (Amston, CT United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Songbook (Audio CD)
I've been a fan of Gordon Lightfoot's work for thirty years, bought everything he released on vinyl, then replaced everything with CD's (finally, finally the final four old albums have been re-released this year on CD), and have seen him in concert at least half a dozen times. If I could have only one album of his to keep, this would be the one (okay, okay ... it's a 4-CD set so I'm cheating a little!). Even with 88 cuts on "Songbook", there are still a few songs that I wish could have been squeezed in (like several other reviewers, I particularly miss "Christian Island"), but their absence is more than compensated for by the inclusion of several previously unreleased works. To my ear, any of those unreleased recordings could taken a place on the original albums over the years without any apologies. The quality of Lightfoot's songwriting is perhaps unmatched in the modern era. Although his voice has shown the strain of years of performing (and perhaps hard living) as evidenced by the three decades of recordings in "Songbook", he still knows how to deliver a song with great effectiveness. If anyone is wondering what Gordon Lightfoot is all about, "Songbook" is the perfect place to start. And for longtime fans, "Songbook" is the perfect album to sum up everything you have loved about his music. Why did I rate "Songbook" with 5 stars? Well, the darned computer wouldn't let me give it 6.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Songbook, July 26 2002
By 
J. Lindner (MN United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Songbook (Audio CD)
As many have already written, this is a very fine compilation; a must purchase for any true fan. I've seen Lightfoot in concert twice, though the last was over twenty years ago, and own all of his work on LP. I too bought this with no regard for price. There are a couple of songs I wish were included, namely "It's Worth Believin'" and "Without You" and "The Watchman's Gone" but overall this ranks a very well-thought collection.
I listen to it periodically then have several songs repeat themselves in my head during the work day. It makes the time go by less stressful, which is what I suppose music is meant to do. I recommend this to anyone remotely interested.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Gord's Gold-6 Stars, July 10 2002
By 
B. J O'Connor "noonions" (Holmdel,NJ USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Songbook (Audio CD)
Gorden Lightfoot is one of most underrated folk/pop singer/songwriters of the 20th century.Most people know him as the guy who did "Sundown" or "If You Could Read My Mind".I was one of them when I picked up "Gord's Gold" and I was impressed by how many great tunes he done beside those two songs.Some years later I picked up Rhino's "Complete Greatest Hits" and found that some of the United Artists stuff("Early Morning Rain","Canadian Railroad Trilogy","Bitter Green") was far better in their original form than the re-records on "Gord's Gold" and that Gordon was the guy who did the great epic"Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald".This futher wheat my appetite for Lightfoot.Thus I bought this tremendous box set shortly after.Not only are the above metioned included,but also such classics as "The Last Time I Saw Her","Don Quixote","Song For A Winter's Night","Softly","Carefree Highway","Rainy Day People","Alberta Bound","Baby Step Back" and LOTS more plus unreleased gems as "Message To The Wind","Too Much To Lose","Stone Cold Sober","Keepin On Yearin" and "Forgive Me Lord".Gordon Lightfoot's music is something you never hear on the radio anymore,so big thank you to Rhino for giving Gordon a "Songbook" he deserves and delivering it with terrific sound liner notes. Sure the price is pretty steep,but for one the best box sets by a truly wonderful artist,its worth every penny!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Almost perfect collection, June 11 2002
By 
Andrew Steed (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Songbook (Audio CD)
I was a little surprised at some of the selections (even more so at the absentees of later years), but the previously unreleased material makes this worth any price to a true fan. "Why should I feel blue", "Borderstone", and "Never Say Trust Me" capture Lightfoot's style perfectly; I'd buy the whole set again just for tracks like these. There was a noticible absence of work from the 90's, though it's nice to see significant contributions from "Shadows", "Salute", and "East of Midnight". It was nice to hear "Remeber Me" again, too (although it debuted approx. 20 years before I was born). Well worth any price!
-Andrew
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