I’ve been listening to CDs from The Teaching Company in the van–How to Listen to and Understand Opera currently–and I don’t like to pop them out when the kids are in the car because I don’t want to lose my place.  So, we’ve been listening to the radio of late.  First–oh how I hate commercial radio.  Tivo has ruined me for advertising.  I’m so irked that I can’t fast forward through the ads that I feel hostility toward all the companies mentioned.  Second–no good stations since HFS went salsa.  Not that salsa isn’t great on its own, but with the change of format came a change in…wattage?  Radio units?  far-reachingness?…and I can’t get the station in most of the time.  I’ve fallen back on a “soft rock” station that mixes horrible pop with 80s songs (and “soft rock” is what?  shale?  Soapstone?) and a “classic rock” station that delivers the same damned songs it’s been playing since it was Top 40 back in the mid 70s.  I had that one on this evening when “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by the excreble Gordon Lightfoot came on.  After a few stanzas:

Ben: Um, what is he singing about?

Me: The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Ben: Is that a ship?

Me: yes

Ben: was it an important ship?

Me: I don’t think so.

Ben: Did it sink in a big battle?

Me: nope, bad weather.

Ben: Um…why is there a song about it?

Excellent question!  Wow.  It is just a bad, bad, bad song.  As bad 70s death ballads go, it is worse than most.  However, I had to admit I didn’t even know if it was a REAL ship, so I hit the ol’ Wikipedia.  And I’ll be darned, not only was it a real ship, carrying steel “From some mill in Wisconsin” (nice detail work, Gordon), it sank in Lake Superior in 1975.  Only one year before the song came out.  I’d always assumed that IF it was real, it was some 19th Century event.   It was some current events folk-type song.  A crappy one, but there you go.  Musician types, you’re welcome to go on making current events inspired music, but let’s all agree that the line “Concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms/When they left fully loaded for Cleveland” must never again be used as a lyric.  K?

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