If You Could Read My Mind

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"If You Could Read My Mind"
If You Could Read My Mind by Gordon Lightfoot (Canadian single).png
Side A of the Canadian single
Single by Gordon Lightfoot
from the album Sit Down Young Stranger
B-side"Poor Little Allison"
ReleasedDecember 1970
RecordedNovember 1969
GenreSoft rock, folk rock
Length3:48
LabelReprise
Songwriter(s)Gordon Lightfoot
Producer(s)Lenny Waronker and Joseph Wissert
Gordon Lightfoot singles chronology
"Approaching Lavender"
(1970)
"If You Could Read My Mind"
(1970)
"This Is My Song"
(1971)
Audio
"If You Could Read My Mind" on YouTube

"If You Could Read My Mind" is a song by Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot. It reached No. 1 on the Canadian Singles Chart on commercial release in 1970 and charted in several other countries on international release in 1971.[1]

Theme[edit]

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]

Production[edit]

Gordon Lightfoot (pictured in 2009) wrote and originally recorded the song.

The song was produced by Lenny Waronker and Joe Wissert at Sunwest Recording Studios in Los Angeles, California,[5] with the classical music arrangement of violins by Nick DeCaro.[6]

Composition[edit]

The song is in A major and uses the subtonic chord.[7] According to Duran Duran lead singer Simon Le Bon, the chorus of their song "Save a Prayer" was based on "If You Could Read My Mind".

Format releases[edit]

This song first appeared on Lightfoot's 1970 album Sit Down Young Stranger, later renamed If You Could Read My Mind following the song's success.[citation needed]

Chart performance[edit]

On release, the song reached No. 1 on the Canadian Singles Chart, and was his first recording to appear in the U.S., reaching No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in February 1971. Later in the year, it reached No. 27 on the Australian singles chart and No. 30 on the United Kingdom's singles chart. The song also reached No. 1 for one week on the Billboard Easy Listening chart,[8] and was the first of four Lightfoot releases to reach No. 1.

Rights infringement legal action[edit]

In 1987, Lightfoot filed a lawsuit against Michael Masser, the composer of Whitney Houston's hit "The Greatest Love of All", alleging plagiarism of 24 bars of "If You Could Read My Mind"; the transitional section that begins "I decided long ago never to walk in anyone's shadow" of the Masser song has the same melody as "I never thought I could act this way and I 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" of Lightfoot's song. Lightfoot has stated that he dropped the lawsuit when he felt it was having a negative effect on the singer Houston because the lawsuit was about the writer and not her.[9] He also said that he did not want people to think that he had stolen his melody from Masser.[10] The case was settled out of court, and Masser issued a public apology.[11]

Charts[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
Released1998
Recorded1998
GenreDance-pop
Length3:26
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 No. 3 on Australia's ARIA Singles Chart and Canada's RPM Singles Chart, as well as No. 6 in New Zealand and No. 10 in Spain. Australian music channel Max placed "If You Could Read My Mind" at No. 675 in its list of 1000 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2012.[15]

Track listings[edit]

UK 12-inch vinyl (1998)[16]
No.TitleLength
1."If You Could Read My Mind" (Hex Hector Club Mix)9:30
2."If You Could Read My Mind" (original club mix)6:11
3."If You Could Read My Mind" (Hex Hector Dub Mix)7:00
4."If You Could Read My Mind" (The Shark Dub Mix)8:00
Total length:30:41
European CD single (1998)[17][18]
No.TitleLength
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
US cassette single (1998)[19]
No.TitleLength
1."If You Could Read My Mind" (album version) 
2."If You Could Read My Mind" (instrumental) 

Charts and certifications[edit]

Other notable cover versions[edit]

Many artists have covered "If You Could Read My Mind." Among the most notable versions is the 1980 cover by Viola Wills, which peaked at No. 2 for five weeks on the dance/disco charts with a dance version of the song[41] and at number 80 in Australia.[42] Olivia Newton-John covered the song on her debut 1971 album If Not For You. Johnny Cash recorded a version of the song that was included in the posthumously released album American V: A Hundred Highways (2006).

See also[edit]

References[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. ^ Production credit for the album 'Sit Down Young Stranger' (Reprise Records, 1969).
  6. ^ Production credits on 'If You Could Read My Mind', single (Reprise Records 1970).
  7. ^ Stephenson, Ken (2002). What to Listen for in Rock: A Stylistic Analysis, p.92. ISBN 978-0-300-09239-4.
  8. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 146.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ Florian BODENSEHER. "Gordon Lightfoot – Biography". Corfid.com. Retrieved April 19, 2014.
  11. ^ "Greatest Love". Retrieved May 5, 2019.
  12. ^ "Go-Set Australian charts - 22 May 1971". Poparchives.com.au. 1971-05-22. Retrieved 2016-10-03.
  13. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". collectionscanada.gc.ca.
  14. ^ http://www.musicoutfitters.com/topsongs/1971.htm Musicoutfitters.com
  15. ^ "TOP 1000 GREATEST SONGS OF ALL TIME – 2012". Max. 2012. Retrieved April 26, 2020.
  16. ^ If You Could Read My Mind (UK 12-inch vinyl disc). Stars on 54. Tommy Boy Records. 1998. TB 497.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  17. ^ If You Could Read My Mind (European CD single liner notes). Stars on 54. Tommy Boy Records. 1998. TBCD 7497.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  18. ^ a b "Australian-charts.com – Stars on 54 – If You Could Read My Mind". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  19. ^ If You Could Read My Mind (US cassette single sleeve). Stars on 54. Tommy Boy Records. 1998. TBC 7497.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  20. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Stars on 54 – If You Could Read My Mind" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  21. ^ "Ultratop.be – Stars on 54 – If You Could Read My Mind" (in Dutch). Ultratip. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  22. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 7063." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  23. ^ "Top RPM Dance/Urban: Issue 7065." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  24. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 15 no. 49. December 5, 1998. p. 10. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  25. ^ "Lescharts.com – Stars on 54 – If You Could Read My Mind" (in French). Les classement single.
  26. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Stars on 54 – If You Could Read My Mind" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  27. ^ "Íslenski Listinn Topp 40 (10.09.1998 – 17.09.1998)". Dagblaðið Vísir (in Icelandic). September 11, 1998. p. 10. Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  28. ^ "Charts.nz – Stars on 54 – If You Could Read My Mind". Top 40 Singles.
  29. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  30. ^ "Spanishcharts.com – Stars on 54 – If You Could Read My Mind" Canciones Top 50. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  31. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  32. ^ "Official Dance Singles Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  33. ^ "Official Independent Singles Chart Top 50". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  34. ^ "Ultra Nate Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  35. ^ "Ultra Nate Chart History (Dance Club Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  36. ^ "Ultra Naté Chart History (Dance Singles Sales)". Billboard. Retrieved March 8, 2020.
  37. ^ "1998 ARIA Singles Chart". ARIA. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  38. ^ "RPM's Top 100 Hit Tracks of '98" (PDF). RPM. Vol. 63 no. 12. December 14, 1998. p. 20. Retrieved March 23, 2019.
  39. ^ "RPM's Top 50 Dance Tracks of '98". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  40. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 1998 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association. Archived from the original on 2020-09-06. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  41. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 281.
  42. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 340. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.

External links[edit]