Gordon Lightfoot, whose melody was used in Irish singer-songwriter Christy Moore's "Back Home in Derry," died on Monday, May 1.

“It is with profound sadness that we confirm that Gordon Meredith Lightfoot has passed away,” a statement on the singer-songwriter’s social media page said on Monday.

“Gordon died peacefully on Monday, May 1, 2023 at 730 p.m. at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto. He died of natural causes. He was 84 years old.

“He is survived by his wife Kim Hasse, six children– Fred, Ingrid, Eric, Galen, Miles and Meredith, as well as several grandchildren.”

Official Statement It is with profound sadness that we confirm that Gordon Meredith Lightfoot has passed away. Gordon...

Posted by Gordon Lightfoot on Monday, May 1, 2023

Lightfoot will forever be remembered for his 1976 hit song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," the melody of which was later used by Irish singer-songwriter Christy Moore for his song “Back Home in Derry.”

Lightfoot was inspired to write "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" after reading about the SS Edmund Fitzgerald in Newsweek Magazine after the ship sank in Lake Superior on November 10, 1975, killing all 29 people on board.

As columnist Tom Deignan previously wrote, the ship was named after a member of a prominent Irish American shipping family, and among the crew members who perished were men with names such as Rafferty, O’Brien, and McCarthy. The ship’s captain was a Toledo, Ohio native named Ernest McSorley.

Lightfoot’s song – which tells of “that good ship and true” as a “bone to be chewed / when the Gales of November came early” – ended up spending over 20 weeks on the US charts.

The song proved so evocative that Irish singer-songwriter Christy Moore used Lightfoot’s melody when he recorded the song “Back Home in Derry” in 1984.

The lyrics for Moore's "Back Home in Derry" were written by Bobby Sands, who had taken part in the infamous 1981 Hunger Strikes in Northern Ireland. During that time, Sands was famously elected to parliament, before perishing, along with nine other strikers, in Long Kesh prison.

Though based on events half a world away, there are striking lyrical similarities between “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” and “Back Home in Derry.”

The Sands ballad, like Lightfoot’s, is about a perilous sea journey. “Back Home in Derry,” however, is set in 1803, as Irish prisoners are “Australia bound / if we didn’t all drown / And the marks of our fetters we carried.”

In the rusty iron chains we sighed for our wains
As our good wives we left in sorrow.
As the mainsails unfurled our curses we hurled
On the English and thoughts of tomorrow.

Oh, I wish I was back home in Derry.
Oh, I wish I was back home in Derry.