Carefree Highway (song)

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"Carefree Highway"
Single by Gordon Lightfoot
from the album Sundown
B-side "Seven Island Suite"
Released August 1974
Genre Folk, country rock
Length 3:45
Label Reprise
Writer(s) Gordon Lightfoot
Producer(s) Lenny Waronker
Gordon Lightfoot singles chronology
"Carefree Highway"
"Rainy Day People"

"Carefree Highway" is a song written by Gordon Lightfoot and was second single release from his 1974 album, Sundown. The song peaked at #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent one week at #1 on the Easy Listening chart in October 1974.[1]

The song's name comes from a section of Arizona State Route 74 in north Phoenix. Said Lightfoot, "I thought it would make a good title for a song. I wrote it down, put it in my suitcase and it stayed there for eight months."[2] The song employs "Carefree Highway" as a metaphor for the state of mind where the singer seeks escape from his ruminations over a long ago failed affair with a woman named Ann. Lightfoot has stated that Ann actually was the name of a woman Lightfoot romanced when he was age 22:[2] "It [was] one of those situations where you meet that one woman who knocks you out and then leaves you standing there and says she's on her way."[3]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1974) Peak
Australian KMR[4] 74
Canadian RPM Top Singles[5] 11
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary [6] 1
Canadian RPM Country Tracks [7] 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 10
U.S. Billboard Easy Listening 1
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles 81
Preceded by
"Stop and Smell the Roses" by Mac Davis
Billboard Easy Listening Singles number-one single by Gordon Lightfoot
October 19, 1974
Succeeded by
"Back Home Again" by John Denver
Preceded by
"I Honestly Love You"
by Olivia Newton-John
RPM Country Tracks
number-one single

November 30, 1974
Succeeded by
"Country Is"
by Tom T. Hall


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 146. 
  2. ^ a b Naglin, Nancy. "After "Sundown" Gordon Lightfoot makes up for lost time". Crawdaddy (April 1975). Retrieved March 27, 2014. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  5. ^ "RPM Top Singles for November 23, 1974". RPM. Retrieved 11 October 2010. 
  6. ^ "RPM Adult Contemporary for October 12, 1974". RPM. Retrieved 11 October 2010. 
  7. ^ "RPM Country Tracks for November 30, 1974". RPM. Retrieved 11 October 2010.