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Friday, November 10, 2006

31 Years ago today....

On November 10, 1975, The S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald sank with all hands in Lake

In Michigan, this song was so prevalent as I was growing up there that it
seemed to be a requirement that one know the lyrics before getting a
driver's license.

From what I have read, the Great Lakes pose a challenge to sailors because a
ship can't just go around some of these storms. If they did, they would run
out of Lake.

Gordon Lightfoot wrote and sang this ballad:

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 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
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.

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 till 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!

There is another version of the song by a country/western singer where he
reads the names of the crewmen, with each name followed by the ringing of a
bell. It is a rather somber end to the song.

Please remember to pray for the repose of all the souls of the Faithful
Departed on this Friday.

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Roman Sacristan said...

I can't remember which song it is, but I often hear that there is one of the cruddy modern songs used at Mass that reminds many people of this ballad.

dadwithnoisykids said...

I think it is 'One Tin Soldier Rides Away'

I recall hearing that for the recessional hymn at the university's student chapel when I was a kid. My father said enough is enough, and we never went back there.

Truthseeker said...

The Roman Sacristan won't remember this because he was too young, but we lived in Duluth Minnesota where those big ships (called lakers) came into port for iron ore. We'd go downtown to the canal that was only wide enough to accomodate one ship at a time into the harbor, and several times I remember seeing the Edmund Fitzgerald. At the edge of the canal, you could almost touch the huge vessels, and it was an awesome sight. The crew would stop their activities for a few seconds to wave at you. We had moved back to Arkansas about a year before the E.F. sank. It was so sad because we loved to go watch the ships. When the song came out, I memorized the words, but forgot most of them, until you reminded me of them. However, I wouldn't care to hear it at mass!


Roman Sacristan said...

I do remember we had that album and it was listened to a great deal.

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Mary my mother, take my hand today, and all days.
Lead me away from all occasions of sin.
Guide me in fulfilling your last words in the Gospel,
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