Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The witch of November came stealin'...

I mentioned hearing a stirring rendition of Gordon Lightfoot's "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" the other night. It was mentioned at the time that the anniversary of the boat's sinking was fast approaching. And so it was.

On this date in 1975 the Fitz went down in the roiling waters of Lake Superior. Here's a link to the boat and its history.

Lightfoot has never won a Grammy, but may have come closest for "Wreck'', which was nominated in 1977 for Song of the Year. (It lost out to "I Write the Songs'', written by Bruce Johnston and performed by Barry Manilow.)

The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they called 'Gitche Gumee'
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy
With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more
Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty
That good ship and crew was a bone to be chewed
When the gales of November came early

The ship was the pride of the American side
Coming back from some mill in Wisconsin
As the big freighters go, it was bigger than most
With a crew and good captain well seasoned
Concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms
When they left fully loaded for Cleveland
And later that night when the ship's bell rang
Could it be the north wind they'd been feelin'

The wind in the wires made a tattle-tale sound
And a wave broke over the railing
And every man knew, as the captain did too
T'was the witch of November come stealin'
The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait
When the Gales of November came slashin'
When afternoon came it was freezin' rain
In the face of a hurricane west wind

When suppertime came, the old cook came on deck sayin'
Fellas, it's too rough to feed ya
At seven p.m. a main hatchway caved in, he said
Fellas, it's been good t'know ya
The captain wired in he had water comin' in
And the good ship and crew was in peril
And later that night when his lights went outta sight
Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Does any one know where the love of God goes
When the waves turn the minutes to hours
The searches all say they'd have made Whitefish Bay
If they'd put fifteen more miles behind her
They might have split up or they might have capsized
May have broke deep and took water
And all that remains is the faces and the names
Of the wives and the sons and the daughters

1 comment:

  1. Love, love, love this song. In fact, it's the first song I can remember hearing on the radio as a kid. For whatever reason, I have a vivid memory of this playing on the radio of my mom's Green Datsun one day when she stopped for gas. It was before I moved from Chicago, so it was probably 1977. I was 5. The song has stuck with me ever since.