Rock Chronology #186: I’m Your Captain/Closer To Home

“I’m Your Captain/Closer To Home”, Grand Funk Railroad, 1970.

The music of Grand Funk Railroad isn’t Funk, but it is quite Grand. The band actually got it’s name from the Grand Trunk Western Railroad which goes through their hometown of Flint, Michigan.

All three members of the band had experience playing in bands in the 60’s. In particular bassist Mel Schacher had the good fortune of playing bass for Question Mark and the Mysterians around the time that “96 Tears” became a big hit. One pattern that comes up over and over again in arts and entertainment is that the good stuff comes from people who find a way to make a living from their “art”. Grand Funk Railroad is definitely the good stuff.

Grand Funk Railroad became a huge breakout hit in 1970. They actually sold more records in 1970 than any other American band. That is partly because people were buying four(!) different albums from them at the same time, two that were released in 1969, a live album, and the one that this song is from Closer To Home. All four albums achieved at least a gold status in 1970.

However “I’m Your Captain/Closer To Home” was their only real radio hit in 1970, and even then it only peaked at #22 on the US singles chart. A big reason the single was not more successful is that the song did not get much play on most radio stations, because it was so long. The song mostly got recognition through Progressive Rock stations which were used to playing songs of greater length.

The Closer To Home album peaked at #7 in the US and had sold over 2 million copies in the US alone.

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