Castle Dark

Every so often you hear a song that you had completely forgotten about, not by anyone you particularly knew or followed, or a song that you had on an album back in the good old days, on a CD more recently, or downloaded. You’re listening to it and it is so familiar that you know the words and the melody, and even the instrumental b=it in the middle. Then you recall the name of the atist and wonder what happened to them, and are they still playing, and what else did they write that you might know? This happened to me twice yesterday with completely different songs.

I was driving along the seafront and a song came on’If you could read my mind, love’, and I immediately knew it was Gordon Lightfoot, and I immediately knew almost every line. I knew it and yet I didn’t know anything about Gordon Lightfoot, and only hazily thought it was him until it was confirmed as it finished. What wonderful lyrics, what images they conjure, the old time movie, the wishing well – and how clever to invert the adjective/noun in castle dark or a fortress strong, chains, ghosts… and this couple of lines which perfectly describes –  a paperback novel – The kind the drugstore sells, and you know exactly what sort of book that is. It’s a brilliant song, brilliant lyric, brilliant melody, brilliantly written, brilliant performance. I was left wondering who was Gordon Lightfoot – or who is he? I had a feeling he was Canadian, but knew nothing more. I was right he is Canadian, born in 1938, still  and described as a legend, with countless hits and countless other artists singing his songs, and apparently still singing and touring.

In complete contrast, I was driving past Wonderstone House on Shiplate Road (what wonderful names) and half-listening to a programme about 70’s music, when the presenter mentioned Sweet, or The Sweet as he kept calling the glam-rock band. I remembered them although I wasn’t a particular fan, but I had always been strangely intrigued by the whole glam-rock thing, and a very big fan of David Bowie. I’d not thought of the band for years, and barely know anything about them, although I did wonder if their lead singer was Brian someone who died rather tragically and was the brother of Mark McManus a Scottish TV actor, best known for and as Taggart. When I got home, I looked up Sweet and found they had been immensely popular, and had best-selling records before things went awry, times changed, music changed, and they went their separate ways. They may have separated but it seems each of them started their own version of Sweet. Brian Connolly was the lead singer, who had a chaotic rock-star life-style, i.e. plenty of substance abuse, who died when he was only fifty-one.

I don’t think I will look up and listen to any of Sweet’s music, hearing a selection yesterday was enough, but I might investigate what else Gordon Lightfoot wrote, played and sang. I might have to write about Castle Dark as well!


  1. David Lewis

    Gordon also wrote about the wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald a lake freighter that sank a few miles from where I live. The night it happened the wind caught my car and I ended half way up a tree. Never forget that storm.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lois

      I must find that and listen to it! How frightening for you, I hope you weren’t hurt. There was a terrible, dreadful storm in England in the 1980’s, but I was living in the north and it mainly h it the south. I woke up in the morning and turned on the news and the TV presenter was sitting in a darkened studio because there were only electricity generators, and I honestly thought World War III had been declared!


  2. Seán

    In my heartfelt opinion “Tief im tiefsten Herzens” as ETA Hoffman wrote, the absolutely best version of the song ‘If you could read my mind’ is by Viola Wills. It’s a disco version and she put more energy and tragedy into it than anyone ever could. Certain lines she sings like ” that ghost is me” get me every time. It’s on YouTube of course.


    1. Lois

      I must look out for that, Seán, it was so strange to know a song I didn’t realise I’d ever heard before. I must find more Gordon songs, and look for Viola Wills. Also, thanks for Tief im tiefsten Herzens, what a lovely phrase.


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