Top Ten Countdown……The “STORY SONG” (Toughest gig in songwriting) # 3

Sailing in at NUMBER 3

“The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald”

Gordon Lightfoot (1975)

November 1975 a cargo ship named the Edmund Fitzgerald sailed into a brutal winter storm on Lake Superior and sank. All 29 crew members perished. Canadian singer/songwriter/seafarer Gordon Lightfoot was sufficiently moved to write this dense, dreary tribute a few months later. “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” is a classic on many levels. It went to # 2 on the Billboard chart.  Details of the crews final moments will never be known. However, Lightfoot fills in the blanks with a likely scenario that makes full use of the artistic license granted to storytellers in the folk idiom. And, Lightfoot’s love and knowledge of sailing informs and authenticates his view of the tragedy.  Commonly cited as one of the greatest examples of the “story song”, it was used as background music for a 2010 television documentary on the event.

In the early seventies, Americas Lyric Laureate, Bob Dylan was maintaining a low media profile and had relaxed the quality control standards on his album releases. Anxious Rock journalists rung their hands and maintained a vigilant lookout for “The New Dylan”.  Gordon Lightfoot was among the names most often put forward.  This performance of “The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald” shows why…..


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