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."
Martin from Fresno CaI just heard this song after a prayer group meeting. It gave me a comforting feeling. I have a lot of fears about my schedule today. And it reminded me not to worry. Everything will fall into place,
Seventh Mist from 7th HeavenJoseph: Well, he wrote the notes for his Songbook collection in 1999, so either he made up what he wrote or he didn't want to talk about it when you saw him in the 80s.
Joseph from ScottsdaleDuring a concert I attended in the early 80s, to paraphrase, ‘this song really doesn’t have a meaning. I was asked to put a song on the album that would get played on top 40 stations’.
Seventhmist from 7th HeavenLightfoot's comments about this song (from his "Songbook" collection): "There was a real Ann. It reaches way back to a time when I was about 20 or so. It's one of those situations where you meet that one woman who knocks you out and then leaves you standing there and says she's on her way. I heard from her after a Massey Hall concert many years later; she stopped by to say hello. I don't think she knew that she is the one the song was about, and I wasn't about to tell her."
Paul from Salt Lake CityAlways gives me a chill and release.... Love this song, definitely one of my favorites.
Brett from GlendaleSteve 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.
William from Milton WaThis song is not about drugs or sex. It's about driving down a highway, remembering the past and the present.
Tony from San Diego, CaCarefree 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".
Christian Cage from Kitchner, OnAnother classic. I can see how it sounds like "every highway".
Jim from Pleasant Hill, CaBrian 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.
Brian from Boston, MaI 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 them
Steve from Los Angeles, CaHe can't recall her face? He must either have a very bad memory or a large list of ex-girlfriends.
Dan from Phoenix, AzGordan commented to me that he saw Carefree Highway in Arizona and came up with this song on the bus.
Rico from Eastern, NcI 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."
Dave from Yuma, AzI 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.
Jodi from London, OnRight 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!
Richard from Dublin, IrelandI 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 EFFORTLESS DELIVERY
Kelley from Hickory, KyIt 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.
Kelly from Whitehorse, YtThis is definitely a nice, relaxing song. It sort helps melt away some tension.
Nathan from From The Country Of, Canadaa Gordon Lightfoot canadian classic
Lawrence from Saranac Lake, NyGreat 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.
Elisabeth from Branford, CtOne 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.
Shawna from Pontiac, IlCommonly misheard as "Every Highway" - Shawna, Illinois
Miles from Vancouver, CanadaCarefree 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!
The Flaming Lips' "Do You Realize??" was named in March 2009 the official Rock Song of Oklahoma. Four years later, Oklahoma's governor Mary Fallin pulled the tune as the state's official rock song in a move her office said had more to do with priorities than musical taste.