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The Greatest Love of Lightfoot

April 17, 2016

I  was mentally sing-humming Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind” the other day, repeatedly and with no small enthusiasm , and I was puzzled to find that, as I did so, I kept ending up inwardly dueting with Whitney Houston on “The Greatest Love of All”. It was as if two separate roads somehow converged, or at least paralleled, so that an unwary traveler on one might drift over to the other with no more than a few modest inadvertent steps, going from Gordon to Whitney as easily as a weary driver drifts into sleep, oncoming traffic, sudden death, and eternal bliss/damnation.

Some online searching quickly revealed that, in fact, Lightfoot accused the composer of “The Greatest Love of All”, Michael Masser, of plagiarism. Though according to Wikipedia “Lightfoot eventually dropped the suit out of respect for singer Whitney Houston.”

Never have the causes of mind-reading or narcissism found such perfect expression as they do in these songs, respectively. What does it mean that there is such a close, potentially even legally actionable, connection between the two? Can we say that very idea of mind-reading , as popularly conceived, is based on a fundamentally narcissistic concept of mind? Or is it simply that only the read mind can be a greatly loved mind, and the only mind that can be read is the mind of oneself? Or is even that mind ultimately illegible, known only as an oft-heard, lightly remembered song, of uncertain provenance and flickering form, one moment a Gordon and the next a Whitney, that no love, from self or other, however queered or Englished it may be, can ever truly touch? And how great then is any human love? And why should this apparently trivial experience of earworm ambiguity be what has propelled me back into the self-loving other-hating rough and tumble cat-eat-cat world of amateur blogging?

Lightfoot… Houston… “This Lunar Beauty”?

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