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38 years ago, Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald


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Friend of mine was at a concert in Duluth, Minnesota when Gordon Lightfoot played this song for the first time - did it solo with a Martin D-18 - being that Duluth is right on Lake Superior, the "Fitz" was a well known boat coming in and out of port, he said you could've heard a pin drop as Lightfoot read a short Newsweek magazine article about the incident, and then played this song - wasn't a dry eye in the place. Side note - the first girl I ever kissed was the niece of the cook on this boat, I was in 1st grade, have long since lost track of her. Will play this song at open-mic night on Wednesday. Looks like the Gibson 12-string in this clip wasn't one that folded up.


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Lightfoot is truly one of the greats. Awesome songwriter and performer. Very real. Saw him several years ago at The Starlight Theater in Kansas City. This was like some 6 months after he had suffered a stroke after a long recovery from a previous bout with health issues. Starlight is an outdoor theater and the weather was super and so was Lightfoot. He didn't have his full band with him. Just him and his guitar and another guy for the most part for over 2 hrs. He said the other guitarist had been in his band for almost 45 years. He had a gal with a cello join them for 4-5 songs. I'm a big fan of his, but it's easy to forget how much really great music this guy has written and performed (there's so damn much of it). For a large outdoor theater, 5-6000 people, Lightfoot made it feel very personal and intimate. Ribbon of Darkness, Sundown, Rainy Day People, For Lovin' Me, Did She Mention My Name, and so many other sweet tunes............ Only an artist like Lightfoot could do a long and admittedly meandering folk song in the midst of "the heyday" of Rock & Roll and turn it into a major hit and history lesson. At first I didn't care for Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald, but it grew on me, and "Wow!" what a tale.

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Absorbed everything I could from Lightfoot's early work back in the day, and saw him multiple times in small venue concerts.


Unfortunately, his one song that to this day makes me cringe & want to run for cover with it's nasally droning delivery is the Edmond Fitzgerald.


Different strokes for different folks of course, but man, I can't stand that song!

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I have been trying to turn over a new leaf and adopt that if you do not have anything good say - say nothing attitude. But sorry guys I guess the old me is still there. I hate that flippin' song. That is one that we would occasionally do horrible things to during our shows. We have actually had arguments about which song is the more ridiculous - Edmund Fitzgerald or Donovan's Atlantis.

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Its all about the lyrics. Having grown up on the shores of Lake Superior and witnessing the power and fury, and having some of that captured in this ballad, resonates. I do enjoy watching Lightfoot play this on that ol' Gibby 12 string.

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Gordon Lightfoot is a guitar/songwriter hero of mine. He is a legend in Canada. In 2002, he suffered an aortic aneurysm in 2002 which put him in a coma for a few months and "took some of the starch" out of his voice (due to a tracheotomy). He had a small stroke, on stage, in 2006, which affected his ability to play guitar for a while, but he fought back and is still touring.


I saw him in 2009 here in Calgary at the Jack Singer Concert Hall. He played for over two hours with only one 15 minute intermission. It was one hit after another with no time in between songs (just a couple of banters with the audience). He played everything you wanted to hear. True, he does not have the strong voice of 1975, but it is GL and he's playing and singing and touring. It was an honour and a privilege to see him that night.


In February 2011, Terry Clements, Lightfoot's lead guitar side man since 1970, passed away. Terry was a magnificent guitarist who added the well-known leads to songs like Sundown and Carefree Highway. I was lucky to have heard him play live in 2009.


Lightfoot has just finished his 2013 tour of eastern Canada and the US. He will swing by the west next Fall and I will have tickets the moment they go on sale.


2014 Tour Info


The GL songs I sing in my set are:


Song For a Winter's Night


Early Morning Rain

The Canadian Railroad Trilogy

If You Could Read My Mind


I'm Not Saying / Ribbon of Darkness

For Loving Me / Did She Mention My Name

The Circle is Small


(the links are to my recorded covers of the songs)




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Me too, drathbun! [thumbup] I've admired Gordon Lightfoot as a singer, songwriter and no nonsense performer since he began his career; and that is quite some time. I've never missed a performance of his in Cincinnati or Northern Ky. in all that time either. I only wish I could write quality songs as he has done for so long. I especially appreciate the live performance what you see and hear is what you get productions. His shows are just plain comfortable to attend and to appreciate even to this day. - You have picked some fine ones to perform yourself. Good job.

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Good job Douglas. I saw GL at a hockey rink in Red Deer back in the late sixties.

As there was a hockey game the next night, the clowns running the rink just threw down

some sheets of plywood over the ice and said "there ya go". Can you imagine taking that

12 string out of a hot dressing room to a stage about 5 degrees above freezing. Enough

to give a lot of forumites a heart attack.. I remember listening to the local radio on the drive

home; Gord came on and swore never ever to return to Red Deer.


Apparently, GL considers Edmond Fitzerald to be one of his greatest accomplishments.

Love it or hate it, it certainly gets everyone's attention.

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