Lightfoot Makes Sure The Fitzgerald is Never Forgotten
I’m sure that given the choice of the events of November 10, 1975 never happening or losing an epic musical tale from Canadian singer/storyteller Gordon Lightfoot, anyone in their right mind would choose to have the tragedy of November 10 wiped off the books. Sorry, Gord-at least you’d still have ‘Sundown’.
I’m of course referring to the Lake Superior sinking of the ore freighter Edmund Fitzgerald, which claimed the lives of 29 crew members. Today marks the 35th anniversary of the the loss of the Fitzgerald, which to this day is still shrouded in mystery as to how exactly the ship sank and who was to blame (if anyone). The story of the Edmund Fitzgerald, while tragic, is one that probably would have faded after a few years from the general public’s attention were it not for Gordon Lightfoot’s retelling of the events of that night in his classic song ‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald’, which was released in November of 1976. The song hit the top of the charts in Canada and number two on the Billboard Top 100.
‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald’ is arguably Lightfoot’s best known song, at least outside of the circle that makes up his Canadian fan base. Although ‘Sundown’ hit number one south of the border, the sheer number of covers of ‘Fitzgerald’ (by artists like The Dandy Warhols, Clay, and The Rheostatics) keeps it at the top of the pile of an impressive catalogue of work.
As mentioned above, The Rheostatics recorded a version of 'The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald' for their 1991 album, Melville. Gord fans please don't freak, but this is my personal favourite version of the song. Have a listen…(right-click to open in iTunes)
And of course, the real deal. Three chord Gord performs 'The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald' live.