Lightfoot had expressed regret and repentance for one of his greatest songs, “For Lovin’ Me”.
“I’ve got a hundred more like you / So don’t be blue;
I’ll have a thousand ‘fore I’m through.”
Wow. Two minutes and 35 seconds of “So long, sucker”.
But I think he’s wrong about the regret. It’s a vivid portrait of a type of person, a time and place, an era, and real attitudes and values, even if we don’t admire those attitudes today. (We probably didn’t admire them then either.) It’s like a drama about an unlikeable hero, and there’s value in encountering it in song or drama or literature. It’s like “King Lear”: the actor shouldn’t feel bad later that he brought the fool to life: it’s drama. It’s certainly real. And it’s a far more authentic song than “Sundown” which I always felt was not much more than a catchy riff. When you think about it, “Sundown” isn’t dissimilar in one way: the message is still “get lost”. It might even be to the same woman.
Other songs in kinship:
“Baby the Rain Must Fall”
“We’ll Sing in the Sunshine” (the rare female perspective)
“Heard it in a Love Song”
I find “Baby the Rain Must Fall” a classic in the category of making caddishness sound inspirational:
Baby, the rain must fall
Baby, the wind must blow,
Where-ever my heart leads me,
Baby I must go,
Baby I must go.
See? He’s not being a jerk. It’s the wind and the rain that compels him to dump the girl.
In contrast, Bob Dylan:
You say you’re looking for someone
Who will promise never to part
Someone to close his eyes for you
Someone to close his heart
Someone who will die for you and more
It aint me, babe.
And that’s why I still think Dylan is such a remarkable songwriter. And maybe the best. No disrespect for Lightfoot, who was brilliant, but Dylan takes the same situation to a higher, far more interesting level. And that line ending with “and more”!!
Anyway… just rambling about “love ’em and leave ’em” lyrics and Gord.