The Edmund Fitzgerald


Gordon Lightfoot

The words below are taken from the Mudcat Café web site's database and have been noted by at least one reader to be an inaccurate representation of the words currently sung by Gordon Lightfoot when performing this song. A link to an alternate web site provides a different set of words; however, as far as potential swimmers on the Great Lakes are concerned, the warning is just as onerous.

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call Gitchigumi
The lady, it's said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy.
With a load of iron ore - 26,000 tons more
Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty
That good ship and crew 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 Wisconson
As the big freighters go it was bigger than most
With a crew and the 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 ships bell rang
Could it be the North Wind they'd been feeling.
The wind in the wires made a tattletale sound
When the wave broke over the whaling
And every man knew, as the Captain did too,
T'was the witch of November come stealing.
The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait
When the gales of November came slashing
When afternoon came it was freezing rain
In the face of a hurricane West Wind
When supper time came the old cook came on deck
Saying fellows it's too rough to feed ya
At 7PM the main hatchway gave in
He said fellas it's been good to know ya.
The Captain wired in he had water coming 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 words turn the minutes to hours
The searchers all say they'd have made Whitefish Bay
If they'd fifteen more miles behind her.
They might have split up or they might have capsized
They may have gulfed 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 ruins of her ice water mansion
Ole 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
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, it rang 29 times
For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald.
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call Gitchigumi
Superior, they say, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early.

Copyright Warner Brothers, Inc.

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Created: 30th September 1999
Last Updated: 19th March 2003