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Carefree Highway by Gordon Lightfoot

Album: SundownReleased: 1974Charted:
  • Lightfoot got the idea for this from a road sign he saw just north of Phoenix, Arizona. The Carefree Highway intersects I-17, and leads to Carefree, Arizona, a small community north of Phoenix. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Randy - Scottsdale, AZ
  • In the April 1975 Crawdaddy magazine, he explained: "I thought it would make a good title for a song. I wrote it down, put it in my suitcase and it stayed there for 8 months."
  • The woman in the song was Lightfoot's girlfriend when he was 22. Her name was Ann. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England, for above 2
  • Lightfoot was asked during a Reddit AMA what he meant by the song's second line, "I wonder how the old folks are tonight?" He replied: "Well, I always thought about my folks. They're both gone now. But I always thought about my folks, it doesn't matter what kind of trouble I was getting into, I always thought about my folks."
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Comments: 20

Always gives me a chill and release....
Love this song, definitely one of my favorites.
Paul - Salt Lake City
Steve in LA... I'm thinking that in the verse "Her name was Ann and I'll be damned if I recall her face", Gordon is probably referencing that merely recalling her (probably beautiful) would send him to a sadder place, hence "damned". Carefree Highway helps him not remember. Just my .02.Brett - Glendale
This song is not about drugs or sex. It's about driving down a highway, remembering the past and the present.William - Milton Wa
Carefree HIGHway...has to be when you turn to booze or drugs for answers. I would have to say alcohol since it is commonly known that Lightfoot was a recovering alcoholic. Starting with a little heartbreak from a one night stand, we turn to the "Carefree highway, let me slip away on you"...which leads to the inevitable "morning after blues from my head down to my shoes". Could be guilt or shame from the sex act, the alcohol, or both. Either way, back to the "Carefree highway, let me slip away, slip away on you".Tony - San Diego, Ca
Another classic. I can see how it sounds like "every highway".Christian Cage - Kitchner, On
Brian in Boston: I don't see a direct comparison (thematic or sonic) between this and Ventura Highway, nor would I say either song is better than the other. It really all depends on what mood you're in at the time.Jim - Pleasant Hill, Ca
I often associate this song with Ventura highway. Ventura highway is a better song but both are similar not only in name but they both have a very cool laid back 70's acoustic feel to themBrian - Boston, Ma
He can't recall her face? He must either have a very bad memory or a large list of ex-girlfriends.Steve - Los Angeles, Ca
Gordan commented to me that he saw Carefree Highway in Arizona and came up with this song on the bus.Dan - Phoenix, Az
I first heard this song in 1984. I was 13 years old and my mother had just left my dad for another man. It's a beautiful song, and I get teary when I hear. Why? it because my mother's name was Ann, I didn't see her for four months after she left us and "she left me not knowing what to do."Rico - Eastern, Nc
I don't remember the Year but during a Phoenix concert Gordon was asked by the crowd to sing it but he didn't, it was even in the paper so I do not think Arizona's Carefree Highway was where he got the idea.Dave - Yuma, Az
Right on, Miles! Couldn't have put it better myself!

I was perhaps 12 years old the first time I was treated to hearing this gem. Like so many of Gord's songs, the first listen left me speechless. How can one man have so much talent? I believe Bob Dylan once named Gord as his favourite songwriter. Praise from Caesar, indeed!
Jodi - London, On
I found LIGHTFOOT by chance on a RADIO SHOW in the SEVENTIES and I have about 300 CDS - but none
compare to LIGHTFOOT - would love to have seen him visit IRELAND - CAREFREE HIGHWAY his best song in my opinion LOVE HIS RELAXED APPROACH AND
Richard - Dublin, Ireland
It is songs like this that set Gordon Lightfoot apart from most of the singer/songwriters of the 1970s. Most others wallow in self-pity and maudlin dreariness. GL can write a song about long love and regret without making you feel like you want to slit your throat when it is over. Emotionally mature music and lyrics. When most others are forgotten, Gordon Lightfoot and Neil Diamond will still be remembered.Kelley - Hickory, Ky
This is definitely a nice, relaxing song. It sort helps melt away some tension.Kelly - Whitehorse, Yt
a Gordon Lightfoot canadian classicNathan - From The Country Of, Canada
Great song by my favorite singer/songwriter of all time. Whenever I need to relax and let my mind drift, I reach for this specific song, though I would not call it my favorite of his. He sums up all of life so simply with the lyric "The thing that I call livin is just being satisfied with knowing I've got no one left to blame." Definately a song everyone should know.Lawrence - Saranac Lake, Ny
One of my favorite songs! Good memories with this one. I lived in Phoenix,Arizona from age 4 to age 9, 1971-1976. I often went boating on Lake Saguaro or Lake Pleasant with my best friend Kerrie and her family in their cabin cruiser. Each time I hear the song, it's 1974-1976 all over again, and Carefree Highway is wafting across the lake from the transistor radio that Kerrie's teenaged brother and sister always brought along.Elisabeth - Branford, Ct
Commonly misheard as "Every Highway"
- Shawna, Illinois
Shawna - Pontiac, Il
Carefree Highway is an absolutely LOVELY song in ways that adjectives can't describe. You have to hear it to see what I mean. Definitely one of my 50 favorite songs of all time!Miles - Vancouver, Canada
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