Captain Mellow Checks In: He Has a Theme Song?

found at psychonauteks

I had been aware of this urban legend for some time, one that supposedly involved the Captain, when some couple years ago I finally got around to asking him to confirm its authenticity. This past week (yes that is how the Captain operates mellow time = long time) I finally got my response. 

I asked, "so Captain, I have been led to understand that the song Ride Captain Ride is loosely based upon adventures from your younger years. Is this true?"

"Oh yeah, man. Those were some heady, crazy times, and there were these dudes who used to hang out in the Mission, where they would play some gigs at little local joints. Mostly, though, they just seemed to hang out. I knew 'em 'cause, well, because I mostly just hung out myself - I mean when I wasn't out on some bicycle adventure. Anyway, one day they say to me, "hey man, we're goin' to write a song about you." It was a long time ago, but I imagine I said something like 'cool, dude', and then forgot all about it.

Probably about nine months later, just after I returned home following that dicey circumnavigation of the Tivoli Fountain I did in 1969, we bumped into one another outside this beatnik joint in the process of being turned into a psychedelic joint. While hanging out we talked a little bit, and then one guy says, "hey, I know who you are! We wrote a song about you. Didn't we, you guys? We wrote a song about him [?]" In unison they all said, "hey, that's right man, we did." Made me wonder just who they thought they were talking to all that time, but, whatever.

Anyway, the next day I found myself reclining on a bean bag in some garage while they belted out this song. It was a good song, and I heard may name in it once or twice. I told them the song was 'far out', but said other than the "Captain" part, I didn't notice any connection to me, or even bicycling - "your song there is about sailors and the sea, I said. Not bicycling."

"Aw, man, No, no, no. You're just not listening to it, I mean really listening" the singer of the song said to me.

So they played it again. And there was food and drink, and... I don't know man, but they were rockin'. It must have been about the third or fourth attempt when I heard it, or them - those subtle clues woven throughout the song - I mean, you don't ride on a ship to another shore, you sail. Right man? After I realized that, the whole thing just fell into place and I began to see reference after reference.

At this point, I asked the Captain if he would read through the lyrics and explain - his comments are shown in brackets:

"Seventy-three men sailed up
From the San Francisco Bay,
Rolled off of their ship
And here's what they had to say.
'We're callin' everyone to ride along
To another shore,
[riding our way to a better place, a better world]
We can laugh our lives away
and be free once more.'
[no more old ball and chain act with a motor]
But no one heard them callin',
No one came at all,
'Cause they were too busy watching'
Those old raindrops fall.
[well yeah, by the time the guys got around to writin' and singin' these words most folks had become addicted to that dream image of motor vehicle ownership. You couldn't convince them that it was anything other than good]
As a storm was blown'
Out on the peaceful sea,
[but there was so much bad - associated health problems, expense, disruption to communities...]
Seventy-three men sailed off
To history.
Ride captain ride
Upon your mystery ship,
Be amazed at the friends
You have here on your trip.
[Eventually I came to realize that there were people who just couldn't be swayed, by any argument, but I could still revel with the friends and community that had been created around the bicycle]
Ride captain ride
Upon your mystery ship,
[even after all these passing years, there are still people who think it a strange, mysterious thing when they see people riding bikes]
On your way to a world
That others might have missed
We're callin' everyone to ride along
To another shore,
We can laugh our lives away
And be free once more.
Ride captain ride
Upon your mystery ship,
Be amazed at the friends
You have here on your trip.
Ride, captain ride
Upon your mystery ship,
On your way to a world
That others might have missed.
[well, clearly. I mean you don't see but a quarter of the things zippidy do-dah'ing along encased in your motor that you otherwise would if you were free-wheeling]

And there you have it. I suggest you will never listen to that song the same way again.