Saturday, November 10, 2007


Gordon Lightfoot is one of my favorite songwriters. He makes a fellow proud to be a Canadian. Two of my favorite songs are "In the early morning rain" and "Affair on 8th Avenue."
"In the early morning rain" is the classical song of getting stuck, somewhere, anywhere, emotionally or physically (or both). The guy in the song may be somewhat of a broke hobo, but it speaks to us all.
When I was a teenager, flying was extremely expensive. Flying from Canada to continental Europe cost a fortune, because of the IATA monopoly, to get a cheaper fare one had to fly Icelandic Airways to Iceland, and from there with Loftleider (have I spelt that right?) to Luxembourg. Jim Shalom and I did that once, but that's another story.

Within North America, flight was also expensive, but there were discounted standby fares for students. Which meant that you waited until the very last minute, and if the plane wasn't full, they would let the scruffy students aboard. However, if a previous plane had been delayed or cancelled (and with the Canadian weather this happens not infrequently in winter), dozens of adults with full fare would shove you aside and you would end up getting to spend the night at Dorval or some other airport.

"This old airport's got me down, it's no earthly use to me. 'Cause I'm stuck here on the ground, cold and drunk as I can be"

In the summer of 1969, as I mentioned in my previous blog, Jim and I were visiting Camp Galil in Pennsylvania when Don Kelman came down with appendicitis. I was asked to replace him, went back to Ottawa, packed, and travelled to Dorval or Mirabel (can't remember) for a flight to Philadelphia. The guy at US customs asked me if I was flying to the States to work. "I'm going to be a camp counsellor", I told him. "Are you going to make any money?" he asked. "Yes, I proudly said, fifty dollars." "Well then, young man, you can't enter our United States without a work permit," he responded. Oy vey! What a jerk I was. I never boarded that plane.

I'm a sucker for a lot of Lightfoot tunes, but my other favorite is a song about perfume, titled "Affair on 8th Avenue".

The perfume that she wore was from some little store

On the down side of town

But it lingered on long after she'd gone
I remember it well…

Kind of says it all, doesn't it? Odors can stick in our mind for decades, and remind us of otherwise long-forgotten experiences from our distant youth. For me, it's the smell of autumn in the air while, as a young child, I throw the football around with my Father or friends.
What's your best smell memory?
Let me know...


Anonymous said...

But isn't it an interesting question as to what, exactly, the riddle is? Is it the words she supposedly spoke? Or is it the woman? And what is the answer?

Dr. Mel Rosenberg said...

Yes, but sometimes it's more fun to let your own creative juices take you wherever you want to go, rather than pick the insides of the writer (in this case Lightfoot's) mind. Maybe he himself doesn't remember! There are lots of fans of Leonard Cohen who ponder the story behind "The Famous Blue Raincoat" and Leonard himself has commented that he himself doesn't recall (although in earlier writings he did mention specifics). So maybe the riddle should remain a riddle for each of us to answer. Thanks for commenting, sorry it took so long to answer.