Browse by Title
A B C D E F G
H I J K L M N
O P Q R S T U
V W X Y Z #  




Closer To Home

by

Grand Funk



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

Grand Funk guitarist Mark Farner wrote this and sang lead. Literally, the song is about the captain of a ship who is sick and fears he is going to lose his vessel. The song has much more metaphoric significance, however. Farner explained to Nightwatcher's House of Rock: "I had gone to bed and prayed. Our mother had taught us kids to pray the 'Now I lay me down to sleep,' so I finished that part of the prayer, and put a P.S. at the end of it, and I asked the Creator to give me a song which would reach and touch the hearts of people that he wanted to touch. With love, because I just felt the love. I just felt for my good friends, my high school buddies who had died in Vietnam. I saw their parents, and I saw their families, and I think that's what inspired it.
It came in the middle of night to me as words, and I didn't even realize it was a song, because I write words all the time. In fact, my wife has a file that she has where she's picked up napkins and notes here and there that have all these words that come out. At least we have a place to start putting them together, like a puzzle. But I grabbed those words in the morning, because I was playing my guitar in the kitchen of the farm. I was sipping on my coffee, had my feet kicked up in the chair, and I had my flattop guitar. As I was strumming the intro chords to 'I'm Your Captain,' I went, 'Hey man, maybe this is a song.' So I went and got the words, and started constructing the song out of it. I took it to rehearsal that day and the guys said, 'Man, this song's a hit.' And, lo and behold they were right."
One of the band's biggest hits, this got extensive radio play even though it was almost 10 minutes long. On the album, this was labeled as "I'm Your Captain," and was sometimes considered 2 songs - "I'm Your Captain/Closer To Home." Some stations played an edited version that was cut to about 5 minutes, eliminating most of the fadeout.
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 2 weeks later, it just blew us all away. It was a religious experience."
Brewer: "We weren't concerned with FM radio, we knew FM radio could play 7 or 8 minute songs. It wasn't a matter of being confined to anything, so we knew it could get airplay - that wasn't a restriction. Capitol wanted to cut it and do an edited version for a single, and we said,'No, you can't edit that song, just leave it alone.'" (thanks to Don for speaking with us about this song)
When this was released, their record company bought a billboard advertisement in New York City's Time Square promoting the album. This resulted in lots of publicity and helped get the song a lot of airplay.
Grand Funk
Grand Funk Artistfacts
More Grand Funk songs
More songs thought to be too long to get radio play
More songs featuring orchestras

Comments (36):

If I remember correctly,

Grand Funk was playing versions of this Song as early as January 1970. I had heard it at Madison Square Garden (2/13 /1970).
It was later released in July 1970 on the 'Closer To Home' album, with the full orchestra version.

Hard to believe, but from 1970 thru 1972 > Grand Funk was the #1 Hard Rock band in the Land.
- Paul, Southern Pines, NC
I think of it as a story about the captain of a haunted ship that is being taken over by those evil spirits. Especially the lyrics, "I can feel the hand, of a stranger, And it's tightening, around my throat." Helpless, he can only cry out, "Heaven help me, Heaven help me." The spirits gradually drive the captain insane, and by end of the song, he has totally lost his mind. I picture him in his cabin, curled up with his knees against his chest, rocking back and forth and repeating over and over, "I'm getting closer to my home..."
- Tom, Marietta, OH
I love this band and as someone stated they are very underrated. I read all the comments but I dont recall anyone discussing how Terry Knight who originally sang in the band back in the mid too late 60's became there manager and later on because of a contract he drew up basically screwed them out of a better paycheck should I say! They eventually broke away from Terry Knight but by this time Mr. Knight owned most of the rights to the original recordings. needless to say they had to start over. about 1973 they came out with the "We're An American Band" (this comment is based on my past memories of them. of course my memory isn't what it used to be so sorry if it isn't verbatim) they are still my favorite band! Jake
- John, Van Buren, AR
I saw GFR last week with my teenage son, they were the first band I ever saw in concert way back in the early 70's. Even though there is a definite riff between Mark and the remaining two members I must say the current line up is phenominal. Way better than I even thought they would be. When Max Carl touched his chest (heart) during this song I thought "what would Mark say"? then I remembered how lead singer-sonwriters like Mark, John Fogerty, Steve Perry etc push the limits of their greatness too much. Bands will and do tour with out them. Don and Mel are out there - smiling, playing perfectly, having a good time and kicking a$$ for audiences young and old, they earned that right and keep GRF alive.
- R, Virginia Beach, VA
I first heared this song when I was going into 7th grade & a friend of mine was killed as she crossed the street hit by a motorcycle. Every time I hear it , It always is in memory of Tracy & I wonder how her life would have been . It was my first real experience with someone passing & the song gave me comfort & reflection.
- Sue, ft myers beach, FL
Gary is 100% correct. The song is "I'm Your Captain". the alburm was "Closer to Home". Due to the last half of the song saying "I'm Getting Closer to My Home", people assumed that the song was "Closer to Home" and mistakedly called it by the albulm name, hence the confusion on the title. Some records (i.e. various song albulms)still list the song incorrectly due to the confusion.
- Rick, Navarre, FL
i agree with Linda, both are great songs
- anthony, morton, PA
I am so glad they didn't worry about making the song short for airtime. This song is right up there with Starship Trooper by Yes.
- Linda, omaha, NE
First off this is the wrong title. The song IS I'm Your Captain (Closer To Home). Tamara is 100% correct as Mark was never addicted to heroin. Had him on the show last week (one of many times) and although he'd have a few, for GFR to perform at the high level they did, "we were stone cold straight," he said. LOL.

Be safe,

Gary, Seattle. @ KZOK 102.5 10-3PM
- Gary, Seattle, WA
First off this is the wrong title. The song IS I'm Your Captain (Closer To Home). Tamara is 100% correct as Mark was never addicted to heroin. Had him on the show last week (one of mant times) and although he'd have a few, for GFR to perform at the high level they did, "we were stone cold straight,: he said. LOL.

Be safe,

Gary, Seattle. @ KZOK 102.5 10-3PM
- Gary, Seattle, WA
April: Your dad is not only wrong, he's dead wrong. Mark Farner was never addicted to heroin. Those guys mostly just drank and smoked pot. Also, Mark has written an autobiography in which he frankly discusses his past, and there is no mention of drug addiction in it.
- Tamara, Jacksonville, FL
Mary, just saw your correction, sorry.. The posts seem to be out og order. But anyway as bad as my hearing has gotten, the way HOME is sung, sounds (in no way ) like "World". I dont know old you are, or if you play in a band, or are subjected to continuous loud noise. But if any of those are the case, a hearing check up is a good idea. It saved me from doin any more damage than I had already done..........take care...........JIM
- Jim, Somewhere, PA
To Mary in AZ:
If you heard "I'M getting closer to my world" 21 times, You should maybe have your hearing checked. (no offense intended).. I've been playing, or working with bands (live and recording studios) for over 35 years. My hearing is not near what it used to be. However the line is clearly pronounced, "Closer to my HOME"
JIM
- Jim, Somewhere, PA
....sorry, the lyric is "I'm getting closer to my HOME", not 'world'. It sure sounds like 'world' though.
- Mary, Phoenix, AZ
This song is annoying to me. It's too long with the same lyric at the end. They say "I'm getting closer to my world" 21 times before the radio usually fades out. Sometimes it seems like a million!
- Mary, Phoenix, AZ
To answer Bob Pape's ?. I believe the Who still hold the record for the loudest band (i think its in the guinness book of records). As far as bands with 2 drummers, there are several. Two that come to mind right a way are the Allman Bros, and Phil Collins.
Of the many times I had seen GFR in concert, it was just the 3 of them. I've never seen them 2 drummers.
As far as this being about a heroin addiction or other type drug activity. GFR were dead set against drugs, and Mark is very religous. If you listen to the anouncements on the live album (just before Mean Mistreater) the meaning behind that is, if someone passes a joint, dont take it. It is actually an anti drug statement. If you listen closely to the lyrics serveral of there songs, you can easily catch the religous alagory
- Jim, Somewhere, PA
Is this true?----- I heard one that (up until AC/DC) they were loudest band ever recoeded. Also, what other bands played with two drummers (using complete drum sets)?
- BobPape, Austin, TX
I was surprised to see someone who is close to home so to speak. I went to Mountlake Terrace High, though I lived in Lynnwood.I would have graduated in '94 if I had been able to stay, but I had to move to Everett in my sophmore year. If Mike still sees these comments I was curious if he to went to Mountlake Terrace High too.
- April, Ferndale, WA
My dad told me one of the band members had a heroin addiction and this song was a metaphor relating to that. The lyric "are you really scheming, To take my ship away from me" is about the other band members trying to get him to quit. The lyric "Everybody, listen to me, And return me, my ship" sounds like a demand to leave him alone with his addiction. "I'm your captain, I'm your captain" could be relating to Mark Farner considering himself the leader or "captain" of the band and so being felt that he should be able to do what he wants even if it was self destructrive.
- April, Ferndale, WA
I've always known that the song is about war-times...whatever battle you may be IN. It was written in the 70's and the Vietnam crisis was an unavoidable concern. Especially for those of draft age with their friends and cousins being taken. This is Mark's contribution maybe? A song that soldiers have clung to in times of fear.

Today I might think the song could be tied in to the fact that the bass and drum players in the Good Ship Grand Funk (Corp.) have voted out their Captain Mark and it's no wonder he's feeling "mighty sick"....I'm kinda nauseated about that myself.
- SUEZ, by Lake Erie, MI
This song is about the US Pueblo incident.
- Maxwell, Houston, TX
Mark Farner in interviews said this song "came to him" early one morning while sipping coffee in his Michigan farm house. He also said it was about the vietnam vets returning home from the way.
- Yvonne, Hastings, MN
OK, I bought the CLOSER TO HOME, expanded-edition CD with the Bonus Tracks and Tommy Baker (Who?) arranged & conducted the orchestra at the end.

Yes, in New York; ('cause it's closer to Cleveland where the rest of the song was recorded than L.A.--eh?!) :D

Still an inspiring song--great on CD in my car Anytime!
- Dave, Oak Park, MI
The song is about the condition of the world and GOD's concern for it and us.
- Larry, GREENWOOD, AR
This song was recorded in Cleveland and orchestra was conducted by Tommy Baker.
- Larry, GREENWOOD, AR
This is the best Grand Funk song.
- Johnny, Los Angeles, CA
Being a fan of Greek Mythology, I have always thought the song was about Ulysses and his voyage home from the Trojan War.
- Brian, Lakewood, CO
This song has been a favorite of mine for over 30 years. It does everything music should do for an individual. I am a former musician (drummer) and I loved playing this tune! The syncopation in bass and drums is a thumper and the base sound is the fullest of any I've heard. To me, this is what musics about. I rock out, sing with it, cry with it, and pound the crap out of it whenever my ipod and me get the chance. And now I get to turn my young grand kids onto it all over again!
- Carmen, Bethany Beach, DE
I always interpreted the song in a metaphorical view. I always thought it meant the ship had been taken over, or was being taken over, and every time, I heard the "I'm getting closer..." I thought it meant the captain was dying and go9ing to Heaven or some otherworldly place. This interpretation is probably way off, but that's what I thought the song was about before I read the song facts on it. What do you guys think?
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
Love the song, very upbeat and happy def grand funks best
- Zola, Dublin, OH
When a friend of mine gave me the album "Closer to home", he said that it sucked and I thought it would but when I put it on my sears turn table, I loved it.I was in high school and the truth is, I learned how to improvise by listening to Grand Funk. These guys are under rated as far as rock and roll history books go. I think it's because Brittish bands of the 60's and 70's had darker lyrics. But these guys had a rawness that defines what rock should be, like Chuck Berry young,not too polished and dangerously fun. Mark Farner is a great singer and a great guitarist in his own right. I am a professional musician today in part because of his influence.
- Marc, miami, FL
When a friend of mine gave me the album "Closer to home", he said that it sucked and I thought it would but when I put it on my sears turn table, I loved it.I was in high school and the truth is, I learned how to improvise by listening to Grand Funk. These guys are under rated as far as rock and roll history books go. I think it's because Brittish bands of the 60's and 70's had darker lyrics. But these guys had a rawness that defines what rock should be, youg,not too polished and dangerously fun. Mark Farner is a great singer and a great guitarist in his own right. I am a professional musician today in part because of his influence.
- Marc, miami, FL
Back in high school (early 70s) this was my favorite band.. as my friends listened to pop radio, I was banginging away lol...
The last album I bought was the coin one.. didnt care for it, and after that They sucked lol
the first few, were great.. along with Deep Purple.. the begining of heavy metal
- Steven, conyers, United States
This getitng to be my favorite song of alltime its such a beutifull Meoldy, Grand funk rail road are the most underrated band in american history, everyone talks about Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, The who, Pink floyd, Aerosmith, Ect ect but Grand funk are just as good if not better....What a great song
- Matthew, Milton, Canada
Was the orchestra at the end of the song, Sid Sharp's orchestra, arranged & conducted by Jimmie Haskell and recorded in Hollywood?
- Dave, Oak Park, MI
Some say it's about Abraham Lincoln, as in the poem "O Captain, My Captain", by Walt Whitman and featured in the movie Dead Poet's Society. Anybody heard anything about this?
- Ty, Niagara Falls, Canada
You have to to post comments.
Mike Love of The Beach BoysMike Love of The Beach Boys
The lead singer/lyricist of The Beach Boys talks about coming up with the words for "Good Vibrations," "Fun, Fun, Fun," "Kokomo" and other classic songs.
Best Band LogosBest Band Logos
Queen, Phish and The Stones are among our picks for the best band logos. Here are their histories and a design analysis from an expert.
Pegi YoungPegi Young
After many years working on the Bridge School, Pegi is establishing her career as a singer/songwriter.
Richard Patrick of FilterRichard Patrick of Filter
"Hey Man, Nice Shot" was nearly a Nine Inch Nails song, as Richard was working with Trent Reznor when he came up with it.