The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald

Yes, it's the tragedy, and yes, it's the song by Gordon Lightfoot. I came to the first by way of the second, and have just finished reading an excellent and comprehensive book on the subject.

The song, oh the song. I do not know another that captures, in its words, melody, and brilliant orchestration and instrumentation, the pathos and heroism of earning a living. For that is what these 29 men did. They weren't warriors. They didn't build empires, they didn't build colonies, and they didn't overturn ways of life (as the Normans did in my native country of England, savagely and painfully over several generations). Instead they were the men of freedom, bravely making freedom more prosperous and productive, and for their fellow citizens, more comfortable. (North Americans were free in 1920, too, but standards of living in 1975 were considerably higher for most people.)

This November 10 will be the 40th anniversary of the wreck of Mighty Fitz -- a shocking, unexpected, partly inexplicable loss. I shall commemorate it in my private way, and that will mean lighting candles and raising my glass to the memory of the men. Will I play Lightfoot's anthem? Oh, I expect so!