The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
I said I like the song The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot. I said it is one of my favorites.
He said he was familiar with it. And what he knew of it, he liked.
So I played it.
He agreed. It was good. So I made him a copy to take home.
I saw him again a few months later. He said he’d come to realize how great – not just good – The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald is.
So I put it on again. As it played he talked about all the reasons the song is so great. He thanked me for turning him on to it. He said I was a good guy for giving him the song. He talked about how he was going to turn a lot of people on to it too. He talked all that shit through the duration of the song, so I played it again.
This time he talked about all the parts he liked the most.
“This part right here…….listen” he said. “The interlude is fantastic.” “And the lyrics. They’re magical.” “I wish I knew how to play guitar.” Etc.
He did this through the entire playing of the song again.
So I played it again.
This time he talked about all the songs and artists that are similar to this song and this artist. I heard Joni Mitchell and Kris Kristofferson and Jim Croce and James Taylor. Again, this went on throughout the entire playing of the song.
I said I was gonna play The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald one more time. I asked him if he’d please let a great song speak for itself.
“Why you gotta be a jerk?”, he asked. “I was just trying to be helpful. Just trying to give you some insight.”
“In case you didn’t notice,” I said. “This song’s way better than any of your ideas or insights about it. The song’s way better.”
I wanted to add that the song might be greater than anything about either him or me. And knowing that is an important thing to know. But I didn’t say it. Some folks don’t take to those kinda truisms very well and we’d already done enough to spoil three playings through of a great song.
I played it one more time, which I hoped would be the last. This time he shut up. I could tell he was upset and irritated. I could tell he didn’t like that final playing of the great song nearly as much as the times before.
I ended up regretting ever introducing him to the greatness of The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Because now, whenever I hear it, I’m always reminded just a little bit of what an asshole he is. Now it reminds me a little bit – which is still too much – of him instead of the song and its contents completely owning my feelings. And that’s almost a crying shame.