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Old 12-28-1999, 05:51 PM   #1
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While I was visiting Sault St. Marie, MI last summer, I struck up a conversation with one of the locals. The subject turned to Gordon Lightfoot and "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald". This person led me to believe that it was sort of taboo to mention "Wreck" since people were disappointed that Mr. Lightfoot did NOT donate any royalties from the song to any of the victim's families. Is this true?

Regardless, "Wreck" is still one of my favorite GL songs(next to "Cold on the Shoulder") especialy Terry Clements' wailing guitar riffs.

Thank you!
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Old 01-07-2000, 09:02 PM   #2
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I think that the person you were talking to had misinformation. I think that most, if not all, of the families appreciate what Lightfoot's song has done to honor both the men who lost their lives and the ship itself. There have been many other shipwrecks on the Great Lakes; some with more lives lost than on the Edmund Fitzgerald. Yet that tragedy is the one that everyone knows about, and that is because of Lightfoot.

Many years ago, Lightfoot turned down a request to participate in a movie about the EF, because the families didn't want a move made at that time. He has contributed personally to commemorate the ship, and I believe has made contributions to the families as well (I think he sponsored a scholarship for children of the men lost). When the ceremony was held to dedicate the ship's bell, which had been recovered from the wreck, a member of each crewman's family rang the bell once, and Lightfoot was asked to ring it a 30th time in memory of the ship and all who had lost their lives. One of the children of a crew member (Mary Wilhelm) created a web site in memory of her father, and she too spoke highly of Lightfoot.

Lightfoot performs regularly in the Great Lakes area and he is always very warmly received.

I think the facts are very much the opposite of what this person said. But rumors are only interesting when they are negative ...

Valerie Magee
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Old 01-08-2000, 02:44 PM   #3
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Thanks Valerie - those were my thoughts too but I didn't have enough info to back them up. I think some people have very high expectations of famous people and if the person (in this case Gordon Lightfoot) doesn't meet them all, then they become disappointed and sometimes bitter. I remember either reading or hearing in an interview that Gordon was really happy with the song Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald because it had meant so much to the families of those who went down and the community. If the community felt the way the man you referred to said, I'm sure Gordon wouldn't have said that.
It's too bad for you though, going to see the area that the song made famous and then meeting someone telling you that story could really take the air out of your sails.
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Old 01-10-2000, 04:45 PM   #4
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Thank you Valerie & Annette! Yes, it is very beautiful in the UP. Without fail, everytime I cross the Mackinac Bridge, the song pops into my head and doesn't stop until I leave. Next summer, I'm firing up the Harley and heading up there again. This time, I'm going to stop at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point.

Thanks again!
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