Ride Captain Ride

Album: Open (1970)
Charted: 4


  • Blues Image lead singer Mike Pinera wrote this with their keyboard player Skip Konte. Mike's wife Valerie told us:
    "Ride Captain is a story from his imagination. I know when he was in the studio recording that album, they needed another song and he wrote it on the spot. He came up with 73 from the keyboard having 73 keys. A lot of people say it relates to a few different stories."

    The keyboard they used was a Rhodes electric piano, and this was an early use of the instrument on a popular song. Other songs featuring the Rhodes include "Just The Way You Are," "Peg" and "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life." (Thanks to Mike and Valerie for their help. Mike Pinera's website is www.realrock.com.)
  • A plausible, but false interpretation of the song is that it is about Sir Francis Drake's voyage on the west coast of America. Drake did sail once with 73 sailors, and he sailed in the vicinity of San Francisco. Drake's ship was considered "mysterious" because of its opulence, funded by seizures from Spanish ships. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Kelly - Warner Robins, GA
  • This was the only hit for Blues Image, and it came on their second album. The group dissolved soon after, with Pinera joining Iron Butterfly and Skip Konte going to Three Dog Night.

Comments: 21

  • Billusa from PennsylvaniaI was still nine years old when I heard this song for the first time on the Wildwood Boardwalk in southern New Jersey. My then-unworldly self thought it had something to do with the Pirate Ship walk-through "ride" at the back of Hunt's Pier. Funny how the young mind works. Every time I hear this tune, it takes me back to that boardwalk and the great memories I treasure from those days.
  • Seth Shotwell from Starke, FloridaI heard this song on the radio when I was 8 or 9 years old and loved it. It never left me. I sing this song to myself all the time on my walks. It's timeless and has the perfect lyrics and rhythm for breathing and heartbeat. It has become part of my consciousness over the past 50 years.
    I'm grateful to have it in my heart.
  • Dick from West VirginiaI believe the 73 was initially correct. I think the ship stopped in Japan to pick up the remaining crew members. I had friends on the Pueblo.
  • Cheryl Clark from Northern CalifI was into Scientology in the 70's & it was thought the songwriter was referring to L Ron Hubbard who at the time was sailing for most of the early 70's on an old WWII troop transport ship called the Apollo. He took to International waters to escape the IRS but the cover was it was a time of research & discovery creating the fundamentals of the "Bridge" of Scientology. Everyone thought the song fit the premise of some glorified version of what he was working on creating higher levels on the "Bridge". Laughable now.
  • Ed from WisconsinThe first time I heard this song I was on my father's boat on Lake Michigan. Our family did a lot of fishing in the spring and summer months and I always liked pop songs that had to do with boats or fishing, etc. I never really understood it's meaning back then so I really like the Songfacts website to learn about different songs and lyrics. This is the best website for that sort of information.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn July 4th 1970, Blues Image performed "Ride Captain Ride" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    During its one week at #4, the #1 record was "Mama Told Me (Not To Come)" by Three Dog Night, at #2 was "The Love You Save" by the Jackson 5, and #3 was "Ball of Confusion" by the Temptations...
    This was also the first week of Casey Kasem's 'American Top 40' radio program, he hosted the show until August 6th, 1988...
    May Mr. Kasem R.I.P. (1932 - 2014).
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 3rd 1970, "Ride Captain Ride" by Blues Image entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #85; and on July 5th it peaked at #4 (for 1 week) and spent 15 weeks on the Top 100 (and for 5 of those 15 weeks it was on the Top 10)...
    As already stated, it was the group's only Top 40 hit, they did have one other record make the Top 100, "Gas Lamps and Clay", it stayed on the chart for 4 weeks, peaking at #81...
    Blood, Sweat, & Tears covered the song on their 1975 album 'New City'.
  • Gary from Xinzheng, ChinaWhen the song first came out, I, too, thought it was about the PUEBLO. It really does seem to fit the story. However, the NSA/Navy SIGINT vessel PUEBLO sailed with 83 men, not 73. And the ship was NOT the first USN vessel captured in 150 years. In 1941 the Japanese captured an American vessel in Shanghai. I had never heard the Francis Drake interpretation before, but I really like it. Only problem is that neither one fits with the testimony of the man who actually wrote the song, and I am tempted to take his word over the opinions of people like me who sometimes read into the lyrics things that are not there.
  • Matt from Avalon, CaMy dad was the the bass player for The Blues Image. Great guy
  • Joe from Cleveland, TnListening to the radio years ago while in highschool, a sound byte from the Blues image, said that he wrote it on the spot because they were gonna give the studio time to 3 dog night if the Blues Image didnt have any other songs to record. He said he went to the bathroom and meditated and came up with the lyrics and cut the song that day...
  • Devlin from Bellevue, WaAfter just listening to this song for the gazillionth time - I have a theory. I suspect the song is an ode to Ken Kesey and his band of merry pranksters. Just a thought.
  • Barb from St. Joseph, MoIn the 70's I believe there were new people who joined Blues Image (or obtained the use of the name?) Anyone know of Terry Jennings who is from Missouri and was in Blues Image ?
  • Kenneth William from Nashville , TnI remember this song in 1970, when I was 18, and living in Southern Calif. at the time. I was working the 3rd shift at a plastics factory and this song came on alot in the factory....and also the beach is when I herd it as well...
  • Melanie from Miami, FlI thought keyboard player Terry Weiss was on the recorded version of this song. I can distinctly hear his background vocals.
  • Kadir Köz from Istanbul, TurkeyThis song means much to me.I like it and always WILL.
  • Steven Mcguire from Whittier, CaGuitarist Steven McGuire notes the tasteful clean fills and solo is the work of the great Kent Henry. The distorted solo at the end of the recording is Mike Pinera. I write this because Kent Henry was often not credited for his brilliance!
  • John from Palmer, AkI was the guitarist with the Blue Chip Stock from Anchorage, Alaska, formed by Skip Konte. While playing in Virginia Beach, Virginia, in summer 1967, we met the Blues Image, staying at the same motel. Skip joined them in August 1967. In 1968 and 1969, I visited Skip in Los Angles, and he played a rough version of Ride Captain Ride for me on piano at his home, and said "listen to this new song I'm writing with Mike Pinera". John Stephan www.johnstephanband.com
  • Martin from Cleveland, OhJust from the lyrics I think this echoes Jesus sending out the 70 (Luke 10.1 etc) and the extra three include him and two others (Beloved Disciple?); Jesus is of course the Captain.
  • Howard from St. Louis Park, MnI remember hearing this song in the Will Ferrell movie Anchorman, 34 years after it was first released. i have also heard it many times on the oldies station and the XM 70s channel and to me it's more of a folk song.
  • Daniel from Parsippany, NjThis song was covered (beautifully) by the band Phish at nine of their 1183 shows - over a span of about 20 years - documented at www.ihoz.com. Those of us who beat the odds (a less than one percent chance) and witnessed them perform it consider it a rare treat. I saw the last of the nine, on 12-10-99 in Philadelphia, and am smiling just thinking about it.
  • Ed from Pittsbugh, Pa I believe this song refers to an incident when a U.S. Ship was said to be in North Korean waters around 1968. I believe it was the U.S.S. Pueblo that was captured by the North Korean.The USS PUEBLO, which was captured by the North Koreans in 1968, was the first U.S. Navy ship to be hi-jacked on the high seas by a foreign military force in over 150 years. To date, the capture has resulted in no reprisals against the North Koreans; no military action was taken at the time, or at any later date. This lack of military response guarantees the Pueblo?s place in history as a watershed event in our national conscience.

    This section of the Website, therefore, is designed to assist both the casual viewer and the serious researcher in understanding the facts of the Incident, and to critically analyze those decisions that placed the ship in harms way and then failed to adequately support it. For most, simply learning the facts as told by the crew (and some others) will suffice. For more serious researchers, the intriguing questions and issues (of which there are many) are still unanswered, even today.

    For instance, to understand the context of its mission, one simply has to be aware of the fate of the USS LIBERTY, a much larger ship on a similar mission, which was badly damaged by the Israelis a mere seven months before the Pueblo itself was hi-jacked. The Liberty lost 34 men during their battle (the Pueblo lost one), but managed to keep their ship afloat and meekly make it back to port. The late Captain McGonagle received the Congressional Medal of Honor (quite quietly in a non-publicized ceremony) for his heroic efforts to save his ship; the Captain of the Pueblo, Commander Pete Bucher, led his crew through 11 months of spirited resistance during their captivity at the hands of the North Koreans and was rewarded with an official recommendation for a Courts Martial. Just exactly how did the Navy absorb the experiences of the Liberty and use that knowledge to more fully protect the Pueblo? What revised procedures did the Defense Department institute take to protect its valuable assets? How did the courage, determination and heroics of Captain McGonagle differ from those exhibited by Commander Bucher? All mostly unanswered questions, but well worthy of further research and study, lest it happen again (which it has!).

    Further, the Pueblo Incident itself illuminates a period when many forces were combining to create radical changes. The Incident occurred entirely during 1968, a period now viewed as the transition year between the idealistic optimism of the early Sixties and the disillusionment of the Seventies. The Incident contains elements of all the conflicting forces which were driving our world involvement at the time: our commitment to emerging third world nations, our commitment to contain the growth of communism, and an appraisal of the level of our national commitment to the role of world policeman.

    We've tried to incorporate both the very mundane facts of the PUEBLO and the program in which it was involved, but still leave room for commentaries and side commentaries that inform the larger picture. So, as you use this site you can do so on several levels ? simply view the summary level within each section, or drill down into the finer detail levels. It's all there. Finally, this is an evolving process. We have more materials to add and we're always interested in unearthing more facts. We encourage those who have insights or actual experiences that relate to the Pueblo Incident, from any perspective, to come forth and share their knowledge with us. This is quite a long story but I believe it is the reason this song was written. But don't Qoute me on that.

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