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Gordon Lightfoot : “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”

Gordon Lightfoot : “The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald”

This is a factual retelling of a shipwreck on Lake Superior in November, 1975 that claimed the lives of 29 crew members. On November 10, 1975, the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald broke in half and sunk in Lake Superior. The storm she was caught in reported winds from 35 to 52 knots, and waves anywhere from 10 to 35 feet high.

She was loaded with 26,116 tons of taconite pellets at the Burlington Northern Railroad, Dock #1. Her destination was Zug Island on the Detroit River. There were 29 crew members who perished in the sinking.

Lightfoot recalled the story of the song during a Reddit AMA: “The Edmund Fitzgerald really seemed to go unnoticed at that time, anything I’d seen in the newspapers or magazines were very short, brief articles, and I felt I would like to expand upon the story of the sinking of the ship itself,” he said. “And it was quite an undertaking to do that, I went and bought all of the old newspapers, got everything in chronological order, and went ahead and did it because I already had a melody in my mind and it was from an old Irish dirge that I heard when I was about three and a half years old.”

“I think it was one of the first pieces of music that registered to me as being a piece of music,” he continued. “That’s where the melody comes from, from an old Irish folk song.”

(source songfacts.com)

“The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald”

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down

Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee

The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead

When the skies of November turn gloomy

With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more

Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty

[Former version:] That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed

[Latter version:] That good ship and crew was a bone to be chewed

When the gales of November came early

The ship was the pride of the American side

Coming back from some mill in Wisconsin

As the big freighters go, it was bigger than most

With a crew and good captain well seasoned

Concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms

When they left fully loaded for Cleveland

Then later that night when the ship’s bell rang

Could it be the north wind they’d been feelin’?

The wind in the wires made a tattle-tale sound

When the wave broke over the railing

And every man knew, as the captain did too

‘Twas the witch of November come stealin’

The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait

When the gales of November came slashin’

When afternoon came it was freezing rain

In the face of a hurricane west wind

When suppertime came, the old cook came on deck

Saying, “Fellas, it’s too rough to feed ya.”

[Former version:] At seven PM a main hatchway caved in

[Latter version:] At seven PM it grew dark, it was then

He said, “Fellas, it’s been good to know ya.”

The captain wired in he had water comin’ in

And the good ship and crew was in peril

And later that night when his lights went out of sight

Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Does anyone know where the love of God goes

When the waves turn the minutes to hours?

The searchers all say they’d have made Whitefish Bay

If they’d put fifteen more miles behind her

They might have split up or they might have capsized

They may have broke deep and took water

And all that remains is the faces and the names

Of the wives and the sons and the daughters

Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings

In the rooms of her ice-water mansion

Old Michigan steams like a young man’s dreams

The islands and bays are for sportsmen

And farther below, Lake Ontario

Takes in what Lake Erie can send her

And the iron boats go as the mariners all know

With the gales of November remembered

[Former version:] In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed

[Latter version:] In a rustic old hall in Detroit they prayed

In the Maritime Sailors’ Cathedral

The church bell chimed ’til it rang twenty-nine times

For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down

Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee

Superior, they said, never gives up her dead

When the gales of November come early

The post Gordon Lightfoot : “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” appeared first on Do You Remember?.



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Gordon Lightfoot : “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”

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