“The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” is a song written, composed and performed by the Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot to commemorate the sinking of the bulk carrier SS Edmund Fitzgerald on Lake Superior on November 10, 1975. Lightfoot drew his inspiration from Newsweek ’s article on the event, “The Cruelest Month,” which it published in its November 24, 1975, issue. Lightfoot considers this song to be his finest work.
The ballad originally appeared on Lightfoot’s 1976 album, Summertime Dream, and he later released it as a single. The release hit #1 in his native Canada (on the RPM national singles survey) on November 20, 1976, almost exactly one year after the appearance of the article that inspired it. In the United States, the single hit #1 in Cashbox and #2 on the BillboardHot 100 chart, making it Lightfoot’s second-most-successful single behind “Sundown“. “Edmund Fitzgerald” peaked at #40 in the UK Singles Chart.