On the big lake they call Gitche Gume

Forty years ago today, on November 10, 1975, the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank with all 29 hands in an early winter gale on Lake Superior. You probably know the song about it.

I’ve mentioned this here before, but I’ll note again for the record that I was shocked to learn in my twenties that this 70s-soft-rock gem was, in the true folk tradition, about a current event, not something that happened in the age of sail. Gordon Lightfoot wrote and recorded the song only a month after the sinking, in December of 1975. To this day, nobody really knows what took her down — the weather was obviously a factor, and could’ve produced a massive wave, but that’s speculation.

There’s a whole host of links available at this MeFi thread that may be worth your time if you, like me, find the whole thing fascinating.

One thought on “On the big lake they call Gitche Gume

  1. I’ve heard many times this song held up as an example of a true folk song, something that was about the times the singer was living in. My love for Gordon Lightfoot’s song is deep and entirely un-ironic. I can, and, to Sally chagrin, sometimes do sing parts of it randomly. At seven PM, the main hatchway caved in, he said, “Fellas, it’s been good to know ya!” And the line about the faces and the names of the wives and the sons and the daughters never fails to land a punch.