If You Could Read My Mind

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For the album sometimes known by the same name, see Sit Down Young Stranger.
"If You Could Read My Mind"
Single by Gordon Lightfoot
from the album Sit Down Young Stranger
B-side "Poor Little Allison"
Released December 1970
Genre Pop-Folk
Length 3:48
Label Reprise
Writer(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]

In 1987 Lightfoot took a law suit 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 suit when he felt it was having a negative effect on the singer Whitney Houston, as the suit was about the writer and not her.[4]

The song is in A major and uses the subtonic chord.[5]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1970) Peak
Canadian RPM Top Singles 1
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary 1
U.S. Billboard Easy Listening 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 5
New Zealand Singles Chart 19
Australian Go-Set Chart[6] 28
U.K. Singles Chart 30

Other versions[edit]

"If You Could Read My Mind"
Single by Stars on 54
from the album 54 (film)
Released 1998
Format CD single
Recorded 1998
Genre Dance-pop
Length 3:26
Label Tommy Boy Music LTD (UK)
Producer(s) The Berman Brothers for Berman Brothers Media, Ltd.

The song has been covered by many other artists, including Johnny Mathis, Petula Clark, Jack Jones, Ultra Nate, Don Williams, Johnny Cash, Duane Steele, Don McLean, Kalan Porter, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, Olivia Newton-John, Liza Minnelli, Diana Krall and Sarah Maclachlan, 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"), 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.[9] 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:

UK CD maxi single by Stars on 54 (1998)
No. Title Length
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:

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. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ Stephenson, Ken (2002). What to Listen for in Rock: A Stylistic Analysis, p.92. ISBN 978-0-300-09239-4.
  6. ^ http://www.poparchives.com.au/gosetcharts/1971/19710522.html
  7. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 281. 
  8. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 20. 
  9. ^ Greene, Andy (18 April 2014). "Neil Young's New Covers Album Available Right Now: Surprise!". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 19 April 2014. 

External links[edit]