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LIGHTFOOT, Gordon



The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald


The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down

Of the big lake they call 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 true 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

Then 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

When the wave broke over the railing

And every man knew, as the captain did too

'Twas 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 freezing rain

In the face of a hurricane west wind


When suppertime came, the old cook came on deck

Saying, "Fellas, it's too rough to feed ya."

At seven PM a main hatchway caved in

He said, "Fellas, it's been good to 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 out of sight

Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald


Does anyone know where the love of God goes

When the waves turn the minutes to hours?

The searchers 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

They 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


Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings

In the rooms of her ice-water mansion

Old Michigan steams like a young man's dreams

The islands and bays are for sportsmen

And farther below, Lake Ontario

Takes in what Lake Erie can send her

And the iron boats go as the mariners all know

With the gales of November remembered


In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed

In the Maritime Sailors' Cathedral

The church bell chimed 'til it rang twenty-nine times

For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down

Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee

Superior, they said, never gives up her dead

When the gales of November come early