Singer Gordon Lightfoot’s Legendary Career Had Deep Roots in Michigan
As we all sadly remember, Folk singer Gordon Lightfoot passed away in May of this year at the age of 84. The legendary singer/songwriter had deep ties to Michigan and a career that spanned four decades.
Lightfoot was born on November 17, 1938. The Canadian native was considered one of Canada's greatest songwriters and he is credited with being one of the artists that helped define the pop-folk sound of the 1960s and 1970s.
He began releasing albums in 1966, but Lightfoot's first real taste of commercial success came in 1970 when 'If You Could Read My Mind' from the album 'Sit Down Young Stranger' reached number five in the United States and number one in Canada.
Lightfoot continued releasing albums through 2016 and toured extensively, canceling his 2023 tour just a month before his death, citing health issues.
Lightfoot's Deep Michigan Connection
It's one of Gordon Lightfoot's most-memorable songs that tied him to the great state of Michigan for much of his career. A song written and performed by Lightfoot in 1976 chronicles a historic Michigan disaster, and it's the song the legendary singer considered to be his finest work.
That song, of course, is 'The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.'
Lightfoot began writing the epic song (that clocks in at a whopping six minutes and 30 seconds) after reading a 'Newsweek' article about the sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald in Lake Superior on November 10, 1975. The article titled 'The Cruelest Month' was published two weeks after the ship's demise.
Although the song took some poetic license in chronicling the Fitzgerald's sinking, it provided a tribute to the 29 men who went down with the ship 17 miles north of Whitefish Point, Michigan.
Over the years, Lightfoot has attended a number of Edmund Fitzgerald anniversary memorial services at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in Paradise, Michigan, and a special consecration ceremony in 1999 to memorialize the site where the ship went down.