Lightfoot changes lyrics to 'Edmund Fitzgerald'

November 10, 2010 5:14:50 PM PST
Thirty-five years ago today the Great Lakes ore carrier Edmund Fitzgerald sank in a horrific storm, taking her 29-man crew to the bottom of Lake Superior. As family, friends and supporters of the crew gather tonight to remember the men, the song that helped make the wreck so famous has some new lyrics.

Gordon Lightfoot's song about the Edmund Fitzgerald is almost as much a legend as the ship itself. It's a song that routinely shows up on radio stations this time of year.

"I would guarantee you, every November 10th since I started in 1987, we get a dedication for the "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," said J. Patrick from CARS 108 radio.

The investigations into the sinking and documentaries done about it in recent years have gotten the attention of Lightfoot. He says, as a result of recent findings, it was waves and not crew error that led to the shipwreck.

Many investigators since the sinking now say the ship likely hit bottom, tearing a hole in her hull. That, coupled with two rough waves, sent her to the bottom.

Those findings prompted Lightfoot to change the lyrics in one verse of the ballad. This is how it was originally written and recorded. "At 7 p.m. a main hatchway gave in. He said, fellas it's been good to know ya."

Lightfoot and others like Dan Hall, who routinely perform it, are singing the updated version. "At 7 p.m. it grew dark, it was then he said, fellas it's been good to know ya."

"That's the way Gordon has it now. That's the way I'm going to do it now," Hall said.

Lightfoot says he has no plans right now to rerecord the song with the updated lyrics. You'll only hear it live in concert and at Dan Hall's performance of the ballad tonight at the Fitzgerald memorial service at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum just 17 miles from the final resting spot of the Fitzgerald and her crew.


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