If You Could Read My Mind

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"If You Could Read My Mind"
If You Could Read My Mind - Lightfoot.JPG
Single by Gordon Lightfoot
from the album Sit Down Young Stranger
B-side"Poor Little Allison"
ReleasedDecember 1970
GenreSoft rock, Folk rock
Songwriter(s)Gordon Lightfoot
Producer(s)Lenny Waronker and Joseph Wissert
Gordon Lightfoot singles chronology
"Approaching Lavender"
"If You Could Read My Mind"
"This Is My Song"

"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,[1] 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,[2] saying they came to him as he was sitting in a vacant Toronto house one summer.[3] 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.[4]

In 1987 Lightfoot took a lawsuit out 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.[5]

The song is in A major and uses the subtonic chord.[6]

Chart performance[edit]

Stars on 54 version[edit]

"If You Could Read My Mind"
Stars on 54.jpg
Single by Stars on 54
from the album 54: Music from the Miramax Motion Picture, Volume 2
FormatCD single
LabelTommy Boy Music (UK)
Songwriter(s)Gordon Lightfoot
Producer(s)The Berman Brothers
Music video
"If You Could Read My Mind" on YouTube

The house music collective Stars on 54—consisting of Amber, Jocelyn Enriquez and Ultra Naté—recorded a version of the song for the 1998 film, 54, reaching number three on Australia's ARIA Singles Chart and Canada's RPM Singles Chart, as well as number six in New Zealand and number ten in Spain.

Track listings[edit]

UK CD maxi single by Stars on 54 (1998)
1."If You Could Read My Mind" (Original Edit)3:27
2."If You Could Read My Mind" (Hex Hector Club Mix)7:48
3."If You Could Read My Mind" (Original Club Mix)6:10
Total length:17:25


Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1998) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[10] 3
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[11] 17
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[12] 3
Canada Dance (RPM)[13] 3
Europe (Eurochart Hot 100)[14] 83
France (SNEP)[15] 82
Germany (Official German Charts)[16] 65
Iceland (Íslenski Listinn Topp 40)[17] 23
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[18] 6
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[19] 25
Spain (AFYVE)[20] 10
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[21] 23
UK Dance (Official Charts Company)[22] 21
UK Indie (Official Charts Company)[23] 5

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1998) Position
Australia (ARIA)[24] 24
Canada Dance (RPM)[25] 1

Other versions[edit]

The song has been covered by many other artists, including Andy Williams, Johnny Mathis, Petula Clark, Jack Jones, Ultra Naté, Don Williams, Johnny Cash, Duane Steele, Don McLean, Kalan Porter, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, Olivia Newton-John, Liza Minnelli, Diana Krall and Sarah McLachlan, Glen Campbell, Gene Clark, Aurora featuring Marcella Detroit, Amber, Gordon Haskell, Vikki Carr, Daliah Lavi, the Mexican Actress/model/singer Isabel Madow (in Spanish, as "Sí Pudieras Leer Mi Mente"), Beckie Menzie and Joe Dassin (with French lyrics as "Si tu peux lire en moi"), Hector (in Finnish, as "Jos Lukisit Kuin Kirjaa"), Scala and Kolacny Brothers, etc. The covered version by The Spotnicks was adopted as an unofficial theme for the 1972 Summer Olympics.[1]

Country music artist Dwight Yoakam performs the song in his live sets on a regular basis.

Holly Cole covers this song on the 2012 album Night.

Canadian singer Connie Kaldor recorded the song on the Gordon Lightfoot tribute album Beautiful. A Tribute to Gordon Lightfoot in 2003. Canadian musician Neil Young released a cover of this song on his 2014 album A Letter Home.[27] Canadian jazz singer Diana Krall released a cover as a duet with Sarah McLachlan on "The Complete Sessions" release of Krall's 2015 album Wallflower.

It has also been used in motion pictures and television shows, including:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 146.
  2. ^ "Gordon Lightfoot 'still out there'" South Coast Today (Martin Griffith, Associated Press) 4-Dec-2000
  3. ^ Victoria Ahearn (2010-02-02). "How Gordon Lightfoot wrote 'If You Could Read My Mind'". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2010-02-03.
  4. ^ Lydia Hutchinson (2012-11-17). "Happy Birthday, Gordon Lightfoot". Performing Songwriter Magazine. Retrieved 2016-08-05.
  5. ^ Wake, Matt. "Gordon Lightfoot on Elvis, Dylan covering his songs, not suing Whitney over 'The Greatest Love of All'". AL.com. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
  6. ^ Stephenson, Ken (2002). What to Listen for in Rock: A Stylistic Analysis, p.92. ISBN 978-0-300-09239-4.
  7. ^ "Go-Set Australian charts - 22 May 1971". Poparchives.com.au. 1971-05-22. Retrieved 2016-10-03.
  8. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". collectionscanada.gc.ca.
  9. ^ http://www.musicoutfitters.com/topsongs/1971.htm Musicoutfitters.com
  10. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Stars on 54 – If You Could Read My Mind". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  11. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Stars on 54 – If You Could Read My Mind" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  12. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 7063." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  13. ^ "Top RPM Dance: Issue 7065". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  14. ^ "Music & Media: Eurochart Hot 100" (PDF). Music & Media. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  15. ^ "Lescharts.com – Stars on 54 – If You Could Read My Mind" (in French). Les classement single.
  16. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Stars on 54 – If You Could Read My Mind". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  17. ^ "Íslenski Listinn Topp 40 (10.09.1998 - 17.09.1998)" (PDF) (in Icelandic). Dagblaðið Vísir - Tónlist. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  18. ^ "Charts.nz – Stars on 54 – If You Could Read My Mind". Top 40 Singles.
  19. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100 22 November 1998 - 28 November 1998". officialcharts.com. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  20. ^ "Top 10 Spain" (PDF). Music & Media. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  21. ^ "Stars on 54". officialcharts.com. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  22. ^ "Official Dance Singles Chart Top 40 22 November 1998 - 28 November 1998". officialcharts.com. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  23. ^ "Official Independent Singles Chart Top 50". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  24. ^ "ARIA Charts - End Of Year Charts - Top 100 Singles 1998". ARIA. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  25. ^ "RPM's Top 50 Dance Tracks of '98". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  26. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 281.
  27. ^ Greene, Andy (18 April 2014). "Neil Young's New Covers Album Available Right Now: Surprise!". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 19 April 2014.

External links[edit]