Lake Superior Ore Boats

     As we were driving along the shore of Lake Superior last night I saw the lights of an ore boat in the distance.  The lake was quiet and lit by the light of the moon.  On a calm beautiful night it’s difficult to imagine waves big enough to take an ore boat down. That’s what happened on November 10th, 1975 when the Edmund Fitzgerald left the waved tossed surface of Lake Superior for the eerily quiet bottom of the lake below.

      Gordon Lightfoot’s song, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" makes me tear up every time I listen to it.  Although the video below does not reflect recent changes to the lyrics it’s a tribute to the lives lost and an epic tale. 

Posted at 05:29 PM ET, 11/10/2011

Edmund Fitzgerald tribute song lyrics changed by Gordon Lightfoot

Every year on Nov. 10, one of the most famous American shipwrecks is recalled: the crash of Edmund Fitzgerald. It went down in 1975 when a storm rolled into Lake Superior, stirring up 25-foot-high waves and 80 mile-an-hour winds. The ship and crew, 29 men in all, sank beneath the waters.
The Split Rock Lighthouse, in Two Harbors, Minn., shines it beacon every year to commemorate the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. (Paul M. Walsh/AP)

It’s remembered in part thanks to the evocative song “The Wreck of Edmund Fitzgerald,” by singer Gordon Lightfoot. Lightfoot once said it was his most important work.

Last month, though, 35 years after penning the tune, Lightfoot announced he would be changing the lyrics. Before performing the song at the Michigan theater, he told he tweaked a section he had taken poetic license with and altered it to honor the mother and the daughter of two of the deckhands who went down with the ship. The women, he said, “have always cringed every time they’ve heard the line. … And they know about it and they’re very happy about it.”

The offending line went from “At 7 p.m. a main hatchway caved in, he said, ‘Fellas, it’s been good to know ya’” to “At 7 p.m., it grew dark, it was then he said, ‘Fellas it’s been good to know ya.””

The men would have been responsible for the hatchway and he did not want it to sound as if they had been to blame for the disaster.