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Lake Superior, known to the Ojibwe as Gichigami – the great shining sea - is both the site of the 1975 sinking of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald and the backdrop for the Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. We’ve put them both here in one song: Nokomis – Hiawatha’s grandmother, daughter of the moon – and a young sailor on a freighter carrying 29 men and a load of taconite iron ore, caught in forces larger and stronger than he.

Consider this to be a fever-dream of the drowned sailor at the bottom of Lake Superior. History has collapsed. He sees everything that has ever happened in that formidable spot. Superior has become Gitchigami, the shining big sea looming. Gitchigami has become Gitche Gumee. It is 1975. It is 1275.

Chandler Travis
Joining us this month in our merging of histories is the great Chandler Travis, songsmith and guitar hero of Cape Cod. Chandler has penned enough songs and played enough gigs that the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute un-officially acknowledged that his music makes up a traceable percentage of the contents of the waters in the Cape Cod Bay.

All apologies to Gordon Lightfoot and his epic ballad of 1976, but the man needed to trim his sails. Brevity is our compass on this one, as we crank the metronome and let fly with a barrage of simple and referential lyrics.

Note: “The three sisters” refer to the three consecutive waves that were likely responsible for the over-loaded boat’s demise.

Thanks to our 5-year-old friend Mason Allison whose love of all things Edmund Fitzgerald, inspired this song. Please visit the 10+ page to see Mason’s own version of Gordon Lightfoot’s song on the subject!

lyrics

NOKOMIS

By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
The shining big sea looming,
Three sisters threw me from the starboard bow,
Delivered 29 men below.

By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
I saw her point right through me.
Nokomis daughter of the moon, she knew.
She knew there wasn’t much left to do.

By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
We didn’t know her but she saw us coming.
Nokomis, daughter of the moon, she called.
She called the water to absolve us all.

credits

from Rabbit Rabbit Radio, Vol. 3 - Year of the Wooden Horse, released July 1, 2015
Music by Chandler Travis, Matthias Bossi, Carla Kihlstedt, and Jon Evans
Words By Carla Kihlstedt and Matthias Bossi

Matthias Bossi: Drums, Voice, Clapping
Carla Kihlstedt: Voice, Clapping
Chandler Travis: Guitar and Guitar-type emotions, Voice
Jon Evans: Bass

Matthias and Carla’s vocals and clapping were recorded at KihlBossi Studios in Falmouth, MA
Everything else was recorded by Jon Evans at Brick Hill, Orleans, MA

Mixed By Jon Evans
Produced by Jon Evans and Rabbit Rabbit

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about

Rabbit Rabbit Radio Falmouth, Massachusetts

Rabbit Rabbit Radio is the song-spinning duo of Carla Kihlstedt and Matthias Bossi. Collectively, they are founding members of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Tin Hat, 2 Foot Yard, Causing a Tiger, The Book of Knots, and Fred Frith’s Cosa Brava.

Drawing on their love of both art & folk song, industrial & improvised music and heart-wrenching balladry, their songs are raw, beautiful, sparse and rich.
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