Top 10 “Story Songs” # 3 Gordon Lightfoot (The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald)

Authored by Dale Nickey:

Sailing in at NUMBER 3

“The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald

Gordon Lightfoot (1976)

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In 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 soon after. “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” is a classic on many levels. It went to # 2 on the Billboard chart.  Details of the crew’s 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” in pop history; the song was used as background music for a 2010 television documentary on the event.

In the early seventies, America’s Lyric Laureate, Bob Dylan was maintaining a low media profile. Anxious Rock journalists rung their hands and began 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…..

R & R Hall Of Shame (Spotlight) – Brian Eno

You hear his music every day of your life. Eno composed the six second startup sound for Microsoft. Brian Eno started out in the early 70’s as a sound sculptor and keyboardist for Prog-Glam crossover band Roxy Music. He soon left to carve out his own unique and highly intellectual niche in the rock and roll firmament as a solo artist.  He used idiot energy, random cut and paste methodology (before computers), unorthodox production techniques and the best musicians of the day (Robert Fripp, Phil Collins, John Cale, Robert Wyatt, Percy Jones, etc….).

In the mid-seventies, Eno crafted four totally left-field, free-radical solo rock albums that were eons ahead of their time. Then he went cold turkey on rock music and singlehandedly brought the word “Ambient” into the rock vernacular by releasing a string of pioneering and successful albums embracing the virtues of quiet, space and environment ie…”Music For Films”, “Discreet Music”, “Music For Airports”.  The ‘New Age’ genre and ‘The Wave’ radio format can be traced directly to Eno’s innovations in sound and compositional approach.  Eno co-wrote (with David Bowie)  the greatest Emo-rock anthem yet written “Heros”.  Oh yeah, he introduced Devo to the world by producing their first album.  Oh wait…..yeah… that’s right, he took the production helm for U2 at the precise moment they crossed over from standard issue arena rock gods to sociopolitical Mega-Stardom.  Produced Talking Heads during their most commercially and critically viable period.  However, Brenda Lee gets in first because…ah…well,….I don’t know why the fuck Brenda Lee got in! Eno is such an amorphous artist, it’s hard to post a definitive video or “live” performance in the traditional sense. He’s producer, writer, artist, collaborator, videographer and musicologist all rolled into one. However, the ambient instrumental “An Ending (Ascent)” is surely one of Eno’s most beautiful pieces of music. Here we have a remix version with a stunning video superimposed on top. Coolest thing I’ve seen or heard in quite a while.

Brian Eno: