Once upon a time, Top Forty was truly the best of the best. How else to explain the ascension of this track by a Canadian folkie to the top of the Hot 100?

It wasn’t the first time Gordon Lightfoot had chart success. He broke through three years earlier with “If You Could Read My Mind.”

But I don’t remember that. Because “If You Could Read My Mind” went to number 5 in February 1971, when I was ensconced in the wilds of Vermont, where the only radio was the ten watt college station, and I didn’t own a car.

But when “Sundown” had its run, I’d just graduated, it was the summer I spent shadowing my dad.

I couldn’t find a job. I’m never good at finding a job. And with three months until I went to find my fame and fortune in Utah, I asked my dad if I could ride along.

As he evaluated properties, as he went to hearings.

So I spent a lot of time in the car listening to beautiful music. That was my dad’s specialty, along with news…remember “Monitor”?

And this day, we cruised through the ghetto of Bridgeport to our next door neighbor George’s pharmacy. Where there was almost nothing on the shelves because of theft. And I sat in the car and pushed the buttons and heard “Sundown.”

Which I also listened to in my ’63 Chevy convertible, which required undivided attention, otherwise the front end would wander right off the track.

It was late in the day.

Just like today.

I was climbing the Centinela hill when “Sundown” played on Sirius XM.

The fog was rolling in, the sun was setting, and my whole life was laid out in front of me.

That’s music. The quiet introspective sounds that still percolated on AM back in ’74.

There’s a groove. And people say the track was inspired by Cathy Smith, who delivered the speedball that took John Belushi off the turf, but that was oh-so-long ago.

This was when we still lived for music, when rock stars were the richest and most powerful people in the nation, when rock could encompass everybody from the folkies to the headbangers, from Gordon Lightfoot to Black Sabbath.

Sometimes I think it’s a shame
When I get feelin’ better when I’m feelin’ no pain

This was back when I still drowned my sorrows in alcohol. When you called me for the night of your life.

Those days are through, but “Sundown” still resonates.


Comments are closed