Grand Funk drummer Don Brewer
told us: "We used to rehearse at a place called The Musicians Union Hall in Flint, Michigan. We used to work all of our stuff out there. Mark came in one day with basically the beginning of the song, the 'I'm your captain part.' We always worked out everything with a jam - he would have an idea, somebody would have an idea for a bass part of whatever, and we'd just kind of work on these things and jam out. For a day or two we worked on this song and it just didn't go any place, that was about as far as we could get with it.
One day, coming out of a jam that we were working on, we fell into that half time part, and that's when Mark came up with the lyrics, 'I'm getting closer to...' So we had that, and we all felt, 'Oh man, that's great, we'll put that piece together with that, and that's going to work,' then we said, 'What are we going to do from there?' So we got into the guitar part where it breaks into full time again. Then we had a brainstorming session, 'What are we going to do for the rest of the song?'
At the time, rock bands had experimented with orchestras, and we said, 'Let's put an orchestra on this thing, we'll just play endlessly, and we'll get Tommy Baker, our friend down in Cleveland, to write the score for it, and we'll put an orchestra on it. It was a new thing for us, kind of new for the day - there hadn't been too many bands using orchestras. When we recorded the song in Cleveland, we didn't have the orchestra there, we didn't know what the final outcome was going to be, we hadn't even recorded the string arrangements, we just recorded the end of the song on and on and on over and over, knowing they were going to come in and put an orchestra on it later. When we finally heard the song about two weeks later, it just blew us all away. It was a religious experience."