Gordon Lightfoot’s “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” History
November 10th, 1975, The Edmund Fitzgerald broke in half and sank in Lake Superior taking 29 crew members with her. Gordon Lightfoot wrote “Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald” as a historical folk song. Gordon felt that the ship and crew deserved more than what the media had done to cover the story. Normally, a historical folk song doesn’t tend to chart, but this one did.
“Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” peaked at #2 on the charts (behind Rod Stewart’s “Tonight’s The Night”). I do not believe for a second that Gordon was motivated to write the song as a “hit,” but it is an interesting side note. The song also received Grammy nominations for Song of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance.
Gordon Lightfoot Answers Questions Regarding “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”
Back in 2014, Gordon held an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit. During the course of questions, he was asked about the song. Gordon said, “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. I felt I would like to expand upon the story of the sinking of the ship itself.”
Gordon did his homework. He bought old newspapers and put the story together in chronological order. As for the melody, Gordon gave credit to an old Irish folk song he remembers hearing as a young child, “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.”
“Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” – Gordon Lightfoot
For years now, I have played “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” at noon on November 10th each year to honor the crew and respect this sad chapter in Michigan’s history. Thank you, Gordon Lightfoot, for honoring these souls. You forever hold a special place in the hearts of Michiganders. RIP
How well do you know Michigan? Scroll down for a chance to test your skill by population. Even though I’ve done City of the Week for years, I don’t think I could guess all ten correctly. If memory serves me right, Detroit, Sterling Heights, and Warren are definitely on the list… But I didn’t look yet. What are your guesses?