Song Lyric Sunday – If You Could Read My Mind

This week Jim Adams has prompted us with “Could, Might, Would and Should” for Song Lyric Sunday. I was hoping I would have the chance to share a particular favorite of mine, and here it is! It is an old song from 1970 but it is still played a lot today. Gordon Lightfoot is a wonderful singer/songwriter and this particular song is very poetic and tells of his personal story of heartache in his own beautiful words. I have included an unplugged version with Gordon playing acoustic guitar and the other is a full orchestra video version. Both are excellent and I hope you enjoy at least one.

“If You Could Read My Mind” is a song by Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot. It reached number one on Canadian music charts and was his first recording to appear on the American music charts, reaching number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in February 1971. Later in the year it reached number 30 in the UK. The song also reached number one for one week on the Billboard Easy Listening chart, and was the first of four Lightfoot releases to reach number one.

This song first appeared on Lightfoot’s 1970 album Sit Down Young Stranger, which was later renamed If You Could Read My Mind following the song’s success.

Lightfoot has cited his divorce for inspiring the lyrics, saying they came to him as he was sitting in a vacant Toronto house one summer. At the request of his daughter, Ingrid, he performs the lyrics with a slight change now: the line “I’m just trying to understand the feelings that you lack” is altered to “I’m just trying to understand the feelings that we lack.” He has said in an interview that the difficulty with writing songs inspired by personal stories is that there is not always the emotional distance and clarity to make lyrical improvements such as the one his daughter suggested. 

In 1987 Lightfoot filed a lawsuit against the writer of “The Greatest Love of All”, alleging plagiarism of 24 bars of “If You Could Read My Mind”. Lightfoot has stated that he dropped the lawsuit when he felt it was having a negative effect on the singer Whitney Houston, as the lawsuit was about the writer and not her. 

The song is in A major and uses the subtonic chord.

Backstory provided by Wiki 


Lyrics
If You Could Read My Mind
Gordon Lightfoot


If you could read my mind love
What a tale my thoughts could tell
Just like an old time movie
About a ghost from a wishing well
In a castle dark or a fortress strong
With chains upon my feet
You know that ghost is me
And I will never be set free
As long as I’m a ghost you can see
 
If I could read your mind love
What a tale your thoughts could tell
Just like a paperback novel
The kind the drugstore sells
When you reach the part where
the heartaches come
Come the hero would be me
Heroes often fail
And you won’t read that book again
Because the ending’s just to hard to take
 
I walk away like a movie star
Who gets burned in a three way script
Enter number two, a movie queen
To play the scene of bringing all the
good things out in me
But for now love let’s be real
 
I never knew I feel this way
And I’ve got to say that I just don’t get it
I don’t know where we went wrong
But the feeling’s gone and I just can’t get it back
 
If you could read my mind love
What a tale my thoughts could tell
Just like an old time movie about a
ghost from a wishing well
In a castle dark or a fortress strong
With chains upon my feet
The story always ends
And if you read between the lines
You’ll know that I’m just trying to understand
The feeling that you left
 
I never knew I feel this way
And I’ve got to say that I just don’t get it
I don’t know where we went wrong
But the feeling’s gone
And I just can’t get it back
Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Gordon Lightfoot
If You Could Read My Mind lyrics
Β© Warner Chappell Music, Inc
 


  30 comments for “Song Lyric Sunday – If You Could Read My Mind

  1. November 10, 2019 at 12:02 am

    That’s a very nice and beautiful song! πŸ™‚

    • Christine Bolton
      November 10, 2019 at 6:14 am

      Thanks William! πŸ™‚

  2. November 10, 2019 at 12:15 am

    I have this same song scheduled for tomorrow! It’s always been a fave ❀️

    • Christine Bolton
      November 10, 2019 at 6:13 am

      Oh wonderful Paula. I’m so happy you chose it too! πŸ™‚πŸ’• Its a wonderful song.

  3. November 10, 2019 at 12:29 am

    Ohhh, Christine…this is one of my top-of-the-list faves! It felt like the anthem to my teen years.

    • Christine Bolton
      November 10, 2019 at 6:12 am

      Yes! It moves me every time I hear it πŸ™‚πŸ’•

      • November 10, 2019 at 7:02 am

        It’s haunting, gets deep within you so that, no matter how many years, decades pass…when you hear it again, all the old feelings come back. Very strange, I wonder if Gordon has any idea of its effect…

      • Christine Bolton
        November 10, 2019 at 7:40 am

        Yes I’m sure he has many times over the years πŸ™‚πŸ’•

      • November 10, 2019 at 7:41 pm

        πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ <3

  4. November 10, 2019 at 2:37 am

    Great song choice.

    • Christine Bolton
      November 10, 2019 at 6:11 am

      Thanks Fandango. Its a song I never get tired of listening to. πŸ™‚

  5. November 10, 2019 at 6:12 am

    Fabulous. I can’t remember hearing it before…but I love it!

    • Christine Bolton
      November 10, 2019 at 6:18 am

      I’m happy you like it Mel. πŸ™‚πŸ’•

      • November 10, 2019 at 6:27 am

        Great choice , happy memories πŸ’œ

  6. November 10, 2019 at 7:14 am

    My absolute favourite, Christine! In fact any song by GL is a fave! β€οΈπŸ™‚

    • Christine Bolton
      November 10, 2019 at 7:35 am

      Oh me too Punam. I love the tone of his voice plus his beautiful words πŸ™‚β€οΈ

      • November 10, 2019 at 10:35 am

        Absolutely! 😊❀️

  7. November 10, 2019 at 9:09 am

    It’s a brilliant song.

    • Christine Bolton
      November 10, 2019 at 10:15 am

      Glad you liked it Di πŸ™‚πŸ‘

  8. November 10, 2019 at 9:15 am

    I love this song and it was the first one that came to mind when I read the subject for today. Great contribution.

    • Christine Bolton
      November 11, 2019 at 8:01 am

      Thanks Maggie πŸ™‚ Yes, it was a popular choice this week πŸ’•

  9. November 10, 2019 at 9:30 am

    It was real good to hear this song today, thanks for writing about it Christine. I looked up the subtonic chord, but after reading about it, I still don’t understand it. I think that there is still a lot that I have to learn about music.

    • Christine Bolton
      November 10, 2019 at 10:15 am

      Oh me too! I wouldn’t know the subtonic chord from a curtain cord πŸ˜•

  10. November 10, 2019 at 11:35 am

    You know I love me some Gordon Lightfoot. I really enjoyed the scenery in the second video as well. Excellent choice, Christine!

    • Christine Bolton
      November 10, 2019 at 11:40 am

      Thanks Lisa. I think he’s pretty special. He might still be touring, well he was two years ago and I think he’s like 80! Amazing

      • November 10, 2019 at 1:37 pm

        πŸ™‚

  11. November 10, 2019 at 2:08 pm

    Great song choice. Guess it’s going to be stuck in my head today with multiple submissions. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ this is awesome!

    • Christine Bolton
      November 10, 2019 at 2:50 pm

      Yes it could be worse! 🀣

  12. November 14, 2019 at 11:31 am

    Beautiful song I’ve always liked. πŸ™‚

    • Christine Bolton
      November 14, 2019 at 8:18 pm

      Yes it is very special. I never get tired of it

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