by Akim Reinhardt
I can’t sing. Or so I always thought. A notorious karaoke warbler, I would sometimes pick a country tune, preferably Hank Williams, so that when my voice cracked, I could pretend I was yodeling. Then one night, I stepped up to the bar’s microphone and sang a Gordon Lightfoot song.
I wasn’t terrible. For once. Why? It turns out that most pop songs are for tenors, and I’m a baritone with a range similar to Dean Martin and Fats Domino, and even Lou Rawls and Johnny Cash if they don’t drift too low, but especially Gordon Lightfoot. No, I still can’t sing particularly well. But thanks to crooning one by Gord, I know which songs won’t make me croak and quaver.
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they called Gitche Gumee
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy
With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more
Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty
That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed
When the gales of November came early
Lightfoot did meticulous research while writing “The Wreck of the Edumund Fitzgerald.” For example, on its final, ill-fated trip, the Edmund Fitzgerald did in fact leave a factory in Wisconsin headed for Cleveland, and carried 26,000 tons of iron. Later, he even made small changes to the lyrics in live performances as new facts about the ship’s sinking eventually came to light. But his research wasn’t perfect. “Chippewa” is a French/English corruption of “Ojibwe.” He got closer on the Ojibwemowin (Ojibwe Language) name for what Anglo settlers call Lake Superior: Gichigame. Read more »