Today’s music video is I’m Not Supposed To Care and the song is performed here by the legendary Canadian singer songwriter Gordon Lightfoot.
This video was posted to You Tube by attaremad
This song I have featured today comes from a favourite album of mine, one which brings back so many fond memories, foremost among them a particular night late in October of 1979, my sister’s 21st Birthday.
I have a large collection of vinyl Long Play records, around 400 or so of them, collected across the years from my favourite music artists and bands. While I would mainly stay with artists and bands I knew, and collect most of their albums, there were times I wanted to expand into newer artists and bands, and oddly enough, that only failed me on a couple of occasions, as most of that new (to me anyway) music I did like.
On very seldom occasions I would get a new album from one of those newer artists based on just the one song of theirs that I knew.
Such was the case with Gordon Lightfoot. I knew of him from his two immensely popular hits, If You Could Read My Mind, and Sundown, but those two songs were not enough to make me get hold of one of his albums. That didn’t happen until early 1977, when the radio started playing a long song, a bit of a gamble for radio in those days, when the average song length was only three minutes at best. This long song was The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald. I really liked the song because it had a story to it, about an iron ore bulk carrier that sank in a storm in Lake Superior in late 1975. It was just such an amazing song, and it was a huge hit for Gordon Lightfoot.
On the strength of that one song, I went out and got hold of the album it was on, Summertime Dream, released in mid 1976, but not making it here to Australia until later that year and early into 1977, when I got hold of the album.
That brings into play the first of those fond memories. Once I played that album, I was astonished to find that I liked every song on the album, and for me, that was something rare on hearing new music first time around. Right from the very first track through to the last track, I just liked them all, and first time around too. As I listened to each new track I found the lyrics so perfect. I wondered why I had never heard more from him than his one big hit, as I later found out that this was his twelfth Studio album, and he had been around since the mid 1960s.
His song from that album, The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald was the song which catapulted this album into a hit on the albums charts, all around the World. It was a self explanatory song and was a gamble at the time releasing it as a Single because it was almost double the length of a typical song for radio play, but the story of the song made it such a hit.
I learned to play guitar at the start of the 1970s and while it was just for my own personal pleasure, I would also collect music from albums I did like. They would come out in the form of a large booklet with all the songs from the album with the music and guitar chords, and images of the artist as well, and I had a collection of around 30 or so of them, mainly books of Neil Young’s music. On that back of my love of this album, I also tracked down that music booklet for this album, and that took a while to locate. Once I had it, I would learn to play some of the songs, and the ones I concentrated on were the main song about wreck, and this one as well.
That brings into play the second fond memory I have. I was in the Royal Australian Air Force at the time, and I took two weeks Leave to travel the 500 miles to where my family lived. The occasion was the 21st Birthday party for my youngest sister, the last of five of us to reach that age. She was having a huge party, and she wanted me there to celebrate with her, as all but one sibling were at that party. What I didn’t know at the time was that this was going to be a fancy dress party, and I assiduously avoided fancy dress, because I had no clue on what to go as. My girlfriend at the time was a good friend of my sister, and my sister told me that I would be out of place if I was not in fancy dress, as everyone who was coming was specifically directed to be in fancy dress.
Sneakily, my girlfriend conspired with her good friend, my Sister, that they should dress me up in ladies clothing. I was furious at the idea, mainly out of thinking that I would look pretty stupid really, but they convinced me that everyone was already going to a great deal of effort to make this a huge fancy dress party. They said that I would have to shave off my moustache, and that was one thing I was not going to part with, no matter what. I had to explain to them the protocols involved with actually having that moustache in the Air Force. I had to have permission to grow it in the first place, and that if after a Month it had not grown sufficiently, then I had to shave it off. The actual growth itself was not allowed to extend beyond where the lips joined at the corners. Why the Air Force were so particular about it was for identification purposes, and that once I had grown it to the accepted level, I had to have a new ID card produced with the new image of me with the moustache, and all ID and administrative documents had to be changed to reflect this, and once it was grown, I had to have it all the time. The same applied in reverse, if I wanted to shave it off, I also had to have approval, and all the ID cards and documents had to be changed again, so it was no idle thing to just grow a moustache, and then shave it off at whim. As it was, I only ever shaved it off once during my 25 years in the Air Force, and that was for my wedding in 1981. After a while my good lady wife mentioned that she liked me better with the moustache, so after a year, I went through the whole administrative process, and grew it back. Even so, I have now had that mosutache all my life, barring that one year period when I married. People tell me that they wouldn’t recognise me without it. The two ladies were a little disappointed with a story I’m not all that sure they even believed, but I was adamant that I was going to keep my moustache.
The party was to be held at our family home, and like most homes in this State, they were raised above ground level, because flooding was a problem, at times, and our large home was lifted off the ground by around seven feet, resting on concrete stumps. So because of this we had a large area underneath the house. Over the years it had been enclosed with those large Besser bricks and two roll-a-doors, so the cars could be parked under the house and enclosed. There was also a large recreation room. We had cleared everything out and had decorated the underneath for this party, so there was a large area where we could all gather, and as it was, the party spilled out into the back and also the front yards as well, in the benign night temperature of late Spring.
Whenever I went away on Leave, or on Deployment with the Air Force, I always took my guitar with me, and each day I always made time for at least an hour practicing and playing, more often than not, more than that one hour, because I would always be picking it up when I had some free time. We had never had anyone in our family who could play a musical instrument so they liked to listen to my playing, even though I was only average at playing it, but I still liked to play for at least an hour a day. A week or so prior to the party itself, I picked it up and was idly playing when my sister and my lady friend walked in on me, sat down and just listened. I didn’t mind, because having people watching sharpened my senses so I didn’t want to make any mistakes. I was playing a tune at the time, but not singing, and my girlfriend said that she knew the tune and loved that song. It was Gordon Lightfoot’s Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald. She asked me to play the whole song and sing the lyrics as well. I didn’t know all the lyrics of a song with seven verses spread across more than six minutes plus. It was my sister who actually made the suggestion that I play the song at her party. I respectfully declined the offer, but the two of those girls would have nothing of it, and the suggestion was, umm, intently made that I learn the whole song and then play it at the party. I didn’t have my music books with me, so I had to play the tape of the song, which I did have, and copy all the lyrics from that, a long process as it turned out. So I spent the remainder of that week concentrating hard on learning those lyrics as I played.
The two ladies were more into this dressing me up thing than I was, and a couple of days prior to the party, they got me in to pick a pair of shoes. I was neither here nor there about that, as I just expected it to be, well, a pair of shoes. But no, they wanted me in three inch heels. Ouch! I never realised how difficult it is to actually walk in those things. I selected a pair, one which actually fitted, and thank heavens my sister had feet somewhat larger than most girls, as nothing of my girlfriend’s shoes fitted me. Walking in them was a trial to say the least. One thing it did do was give me an appreciation of how difficult it must be for a lady to feel elegant while walking in what are most uncomfortable footwear. For the two days prior to the party, I spent an hour or so each day walking in them to get used to them, forever thanking my lucky stars that I was a man, and did not have to wear shoes like this as often as they had to.
The morning of the party arrived, the Saturday. I had already selected a skirt and blouse, with the accompanying embarrassment, and again, I was lucky as my sister was basically the same height as I was, and we were the tallest of the family, so the sizes were basically the same. The two ladies fussed over the bra I was wearing, embarrassing for me to say the least, but they wanted me to actually look the part, despite the presence of the moustache.
Not long after breakfast the two ladies got me aside, and said it was time to start the process with the hair and makeup. What, I said. My sister had a wig that the two girls placed on my head with a snappy little beret, and then they spent a couple of hours doing the makeup. It was an embarrassing time for me, but they were deadly serious. After that ‘session’. they took a photo, and that’s it above showing me in the wig and that makeup, just around the eyes mainly. (if you click on that image and this second one below, they will open in a new and larger window)
Later in the afternoon, they dressed me and fussed over each little thing, until they had it right. I was just so glad that I didn’t have to do all this all the time, and it gave me a whole new perspective on how long it takes a woman to get ready to go out.
At around 4PM, people started turning up, and the party was in full swing by around 6PM. As it turned out on the night, there were more than 50 people there and all of them were in fancy dress, including my own Mother, dressed as a motorcyclist with full leathers and carrying a helmet. My brother was dressed as a pirate, complete with a fake parrot attached to his shoulder. My other sister came dressed as Peter Pan, and her husband, my good friend and Brother in law came dressed as a fairy in the Tinker Bell style. all decked out in pink and with wings and a magic wand, and as a manly man, that shocked me somewhat, and made me feel a little better dressed up as a woman. Everyone was in the spirit of the night, and I was glad I allowed my sister and my lady friend to make the effort. While I was quite self conscious, I might have been the only one who noticed that, as no one else seemed to be the least bit bothered. It helped that I knew nearly everyone at the party, so there was never any hint of embarrassment on my part. The image at the right here shows me all dressed up.
It was a great party to say the least, and for my sister’s sake, we were all so glad we made such a big effort to do it all so well.
I still had my spot with the guitar to come, and even this late in time, I was still trying to wangle out of it, thinking why disrupt a good party just to play a song. However at around 11PM or so, my sister interrupted everyone and introduced me to sing my song. I was actually amazed that everyone went quiet. I had played and sung to crowds three times previously, but this was different as everyone knew me. Even so, I wasn’t all that nervous, as I usually channeled that nervous energy into making me concentrate even more on what I was doing. Before I started, I explained a little of the actual story of the song, and then just went ahead and sang it. I was looking around at the crowd while doing it, and it surprised me how rapt they all seemed, something I had never noticed before this. It helped that the song had a good story to it. I ended the song to applause and actually calls to sing another one. I didn’t want to spend too much time, so I sang an old favourite of mine, Neil Young’s Old Man, and that was it for me for the night, my own little 15 minutes of fame.
Later on, I wondered how silly it must have looked. A man dressed as a woman, but with a mosutache and a male voice singing a couple of songs, and playing the guitar.
Thank heavens we were all friends together. The party was held on the Saturday night, and her actual birthday was on the Sunday, so at midnight we all sang happy birthday, and brought out the huge cake. It was such a wonderful night.
I still occasionally play some songs from that album, and each time I hear one of them, I am immediately transported back that wonderful night.