The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

"The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"
Single by Gordon Lightfoot
from the album Summertime Dream
B-sideThe House You Live In
ReleasedAugust 1976
Format7" 45
RecordedDecember 1975
GenreFolk rock
Length6:32 (Album Version)
5:57 (Single Edit)
LabelReprise
Writer(s)Gordon Lightfoot
Producer(s)Lenny Waronker
Gordon Lightfoot
Gordon Lightfoot singles chronology
"Rainy Day People"
1975
"The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"
1976
"Race Among the Ruins"
1976
 
Jump to: navigation, search
"The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"
Single by Gordon Lightfoot
from the album Summertime Dream
B-sideThe House You Live In
ReleasedAugust 1976
Format7" 45
RecordedDecember 1975
GenreFolk rock
Length6:32 (Album Version)
5:57 (Single Edit)
LabelReprise
Writer(s)Gordon Lightfoot
Producer(s)Lenny Waronker
Gordon Lightfoot
Gordon Lightfoot singles chronology
"Rainy Day People"
1975
"The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"
1976
"Race Among the Ruins"
1976

"The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" is a song written, composed and performed by Canadian Gordon Lightfoot to commemorate the sinking of the bulk carrier SS Edmund Fitzgerald on Lake Superior on November 10, 1975. It was inspired by the Newsweek article on the event, "The Cruelest Month", which appeared in the issue of November 24, 1975.[1] Lightfoot considers this song to be his finest work.[2]

The ballad originally appeared on Lightfoot's 1976 album, Summertime Dream, and was later released as a single. The release hit #1 in his native Canada (on the RPM national singles survey) on November 20, 1976, almost exactly one year after the appearance of the article that inspired it.[3] In the U.S., the single was #2 on the Billboard pop chart for two weeks beginning November 20, 1976, making it Lightfoot's second most successful single (in terms of chart position) in that country following "Sundown", which reached #1 in 1974. "Wreck" peaked at #40 in the UK Singles Chart.

The song is written in Mixolydian mode.[4]

Artistic license[edit]

The song contains a few artistic omissions and paraphrases. In a later interview aired on Canadian radio, Lightfoot recounted how he had agonised, while trying to pen the lyrics, over possible inaccuracies until a friend in the music industry finally removed his writer's block simply by advising him to play to his artistic strengths and "just tell a story". On the other hand, Lightfoot's personal passion for recreational sailing on the Great Lakes[5] informs his ballad's verses throughout, thus amplifying its ring of authenticity.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1976)Peak
position
Australian Kent Music Report46[11]
Canadian RPM Top Singles1
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary Tracks1
Canadian RPM Country Tracks1
U.S. Billboard Hot 1002
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks9
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles50

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gordon Lightfoot: Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald - Song Lyrics. (Alt. ref. for lyrics)
  2. ^ Connect Savannah, March 2 2010, Bill DeYoung, "If you could read his mind: A conversation with folk music legend Gordon Lightfoot".
  3. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2010-08-18. 
  4. ^ Whitesell, Lloyd (2008). The Music of Joni Mitchell. Oxford University Press. p. 119. ISBN 0199719098. 
  5. ^ Excerpt from Yachting magazine, 1979, "This Goose is Golden".
  6. ^ jalopnik.com, November 10 2011, Ray Wert, "Remembering the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, 36 years later".
  7. ^ McInnis, Joseph (1998). "Fitzgerald's Storm: The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald", p. 62, Thunder Bay Press. ISBN 1-882376-53-6.
  8. ^ Schumacher, Michael (2005). "Mighty Fitz", p. 94, Bloomsbury Publishing, New York & London. ISBN 1-58234-647-X.
  9. ^ George Balunda (November 2010). "Mariners’ Church of Detroit". Hour Detroit (hourdetroit.com). Retrieved 2011-12-10. 
  10. ^ Toronto Sun, March 26 2010, Jane Stevenson, "Lightfoot changes 'Edmund Fitzgerald' lyric".
  11. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Rock'n Me"
by Steve Miller Band
RPM Top Singles
number-one single

November 20, 1976
Succeeded by
"Tonight's The Night (Gonna Be Alright)"
by Rod Stewart
Preceded by
"The Games That Daddies Play"
by Conway Twitty
RPM Country Tracks
number-one single

November 6, 1976
Succeeded by
"Why I Had to Pass This Way"
by Carroll Baker