Songbook (Warner Brothers Records, Inc and Rhino Entertainment Company)
Gordon Lightfoot

By Bob Mitchell

This four CD box set is a time capsule for one of the musical giants of the twentieth century. Lightfoot and Warner Archives collaborated to produce a truly remarkable collection. The project begins with a 1962 recording ("Remember Me") and ends 5 hours and 5 minutes later with a 1998 rendition of "A Painter Passing Through." Skillfully and lovingly laced between these two selections are sixty-eight tracks from nineteen albums. In addition, there are eighteen previously unissued songs for a total of eighty-six tracks. Wow, that is some kind of "Songbook!"

Those of you who are familiar with Lightfoot's monumental body of work can kick back, turn up the volume and relive three decades of wonderful musical memories. I can not believe there is anyone who has not been touched by one or more of this man's songs, but if you are such a person, you need to listen to this set of CDs: Lightfoot is one of the century's finest singer-songwriters. The liner notes say he is, "virtually without peer" and he is! Elvis Presley, Barbara Streisand, Bob Dylan, Jerry Lee Lewis, Harry Belafonte, Johnny Cash, Olivia Newton-John, Glen Campbell and Peter, Paul and Mary have recorded his songs, among others.

Lightfoot's lyrics are poetry. His words are intelligent and elegant. His melodies are brilliant and absorbing. His voice is rich and captures every nuance of every intended emotion reflecting a deep insight into the human heart. His guitar playing is subtle yet satisfying .

His back-up musicians are always extraordinary. No review of the Lightfoot legacy can ignore the dramatic and masterful work of guitarists Red Shea and Terry Clements, and bassists John Stockfish and Rick Haynes. Some of the other featured musicians include - but are not limited to - illuminairies as Charlie McCoy (harmonica), Ry Cooder (mandolin), Vassar Clements (fiddle), Pee Wee Charles and Ollie Strong (pedal steel guitar), and David Bomberg (Dobro). There are also some beautifully lush string arrangements from Bob Thompson, Nick Caro and Doug Riley.

A sixty-page hard cover booklet provides a comprehensive biography and extensive information about each track. This is a sensational anthology that should be a part of your collection.