Calling everyone to ride along to another shore

As anyone who has ventured near a dance floor knows, the right kind of music makes for an emotionally charged social experience. Those who have watched a few Super Bowl commercials can well attest that big money advertisers have figured this out.

No surprise, then, that Madison Avenue has also come to understand the concept of “reminiscence bumps,” which (as studies have shown) are specific memories that remain vivid as we get older. Enduring throughout our lives, these autobiographical “spots of time” are forged during the raging hormonal soup of adolescence and slightly beyond, and are  generally based on the profound connection between our youthful quest for identity and aesthetic, and the music we listen to at the time.

After reading about this concept I thought I’d put it to the test with a song that harkens back to my own adolescence … and truly the reminiscence bumps abound. Perhaps the same holds true for you.

It was 1970, a year when Kent State, My Lai, and Apollo 13 made headline news, Solzhenitsyn won his Nobel Prize, Toffler published Future Shock, and Doonesbury made its first appearance. In New York the North Tower of the World Trade Center became the tallest building in the world (the South Tower would join it the following year) and Pan Am began the first commercial 747 service, between JFK and London Heathrow.

On the Isle of Wight 600,000+ people attended the largest rock festival of all time. Having played one of their finest performances there, The Who went on to become the first rock act to perform at the Metropolitan Opera House (Tommy yes we heard you). And while Jimi (in London) and Janis (in LA) OD’d in a purple haze that year, and the Beatles called it quits, the eponymous Elton John featured the rising star’s first top ten hit, Your Song.

Back in New York Monday Night Football debuted with Keith Jackson and Howard Cosell and in Boston the Big Bad Bruins won their first Stanley Cup since 1941, with Bobby Orr scoring a goal for the ages, 40 seconds into overtime. Are we there yet?

Recorded by Tampa-based Blues Image and featured on its 1970 album, Open, this song reached Number 4 on the Billboard Singles chart. Co-written by keyboardist Skip Konte and singer-guitarist Mike Pinera on his Rhodes electric piano, Pinera was looking for a way to start when it occurred to him that his piano had 73 keys. “I went, ’73 men sailed up, from the San Francisco Bay,’” he later said, “The song sort of just wrote itself from there.”  Let the bumps begin.

Ride Captain Ride

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,

We can laugh our lives away

and be free once more.”

But no one heard them callin’,

No one came at all,

‘Cause they were too busy watchin’

Those old raindrops fall.

As a storm was blowin’

Out on the peaceful sea,

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.

Ride captain ride

Upon your mystery ship,

On your way to a world

That others might have missed.

Seventy-three men sailed up

From the San Francisco Bay,

Got off their ship

And here’s what they had to say.

“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.

Ride, captain ride

Upon your mystery ship,

Be amazed at the friends

You have here on your trip.

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