November is the month of the sinking of the great ore ship The Edmund Fitzgerald in Lake Superior.
While many ships have sunk on that often majestic and sometimes stormy Great Lake, it was Gordon Lightfoot’s commemorative song that put it eternally into the public eye. It was November 1975 when the Fitzgerald became the largest ship ever to have gone down on Lake Superior. All 29 crew members were lost, their bodies never recovered even after the wreck was found.
Lightfoot wrote his famous song after reading an article in Newsweek magazine titled “Great Lakes: The Cruelest Month,” also published in November 1975. Lightfoot’s song opens with the same words as the article, about the Chippewa legend that the lake never gives up its dead. It became a mega-hit in 1976 and has been played continuously ever since.
A Canadian, Lightfoot was born on this day in 1938. He has written hundreds of songs, many of them based on stories of the people and the land around him. “You just get the vibes of your surroundings and it rubs off on you,” he said. And in his case – it comes back through his memorable words and haunting music.
Here’s a link to Lightfoot’s masterpiece, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”
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