The folk tradition in which Lightfoot initially worked is full of boastful songs about rambling men who are lighting out for the territory, but this one is uniquely cruel. It’s pushed along by his stout acoustic guitar strumming and David Rea’s sleek fingerpicking accents, which reinforce the lyric’s hauteur. “Everything you have is gone,” Lightfoot tells the woman he’s leaving. “That’s what you get for lovin’ me.” Her broken heart will eventually mend, he adds, at which point “I just might pass this way again.” He later felt some embarrassment about the song, and said, “I didn’t know what chauvinism was.”
Lightfoot grew up in bucolic Central Ontario, which could hardly be farther from Memphis, but he sounds nearly Southern on this simple, brisk folk song, which Presley recorded a few years later. Its theme is homesickness (Lightfoot was living in Los Angeles when he wrote it); the narrator, who’s “as cold and drunk as I can be,” in addition to broke, watches a 707 fly overhead and envies its freedom as he pines for his hometown.
In this canny depiction of wounded pride, Lightfoot gets together with an old friend to shoot the breeze, but amid the chitchat about sports and mutual acquaintances, he casually slips in a question that reveals his agenda: “By the way, did she mention my name?” This song and “For Lovin’ Me” are fraternal twins, joined by their fascination with male pride.
Lightfoot mostly worked the personal-relationship side of folk music and left the political side to others. The controversial “Black Day in July” has a restless, unsettled drum track, and describes the July 1967 uprisings in Detroit in which Black residents protested police abuse, prompting the governor to send in the National Guard and the president to send in the army. The song is full of irony, scorn and bafflement (“The soul of Motor City is feared across the land”) and most U.S. radio stations refused to play it.