Music is historical glue for me. Certain songs trigger instant recall of past exploits. This week while driving I heard Grand Funk Railroad’s “I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home)” on SIRIUS XM Radio. The next day I went to Home Depot in the family truck, a 1999 Ford Ranger with a cassette player. Say no more. I popped in a tape I made in 1971 after I was honorably discharged from the Army. I’m waiting for the tape to disintegrate, but for now it is the prime link to a very fond memory. Oh yeah, the first track is “I’m Your Captain,” a 1970 10-minute recording that’s become a favorite of veterans.
It was the winter of 1970 and my buddy, Norm, and I were “short.” When your term of military service was up within six months, you were considered “short” by the Army, meaning not enough time left to be sent to Vietnam. Safe! We took this vindication to heart and, consequently, played like there was no tomorrow in an Army basketball league. One night Norm and I made all our shots. Our passes were perfect—the opponents could only stare and wonder: who are these guys? After the game we went for beers. I drove. It was a ten minute trip to the bar. When I started the car, “I’m Your Captain” was on the radio and it followed us all the way to the bar. The association of the song to the aftermath of a game was more than celebrating the sinking of baskets. We were home. Safe.