The Rocket That Grandpa Rode

written by Jimmy Buffett, Mac McAnally, Will Kimbrough, Peter Mayer, and Roger Guth

from the album Songs From St. Somewhere


There’s an old Gypsy Moth
Made of glue and cloth
That lands in a horse filled field
An unusual event for those palomino gents
Who just stared at their future revealed

Why oh why oh?
Did he fly out of Ohio
Before we knew that genes held the code
But taking to wing, is a haunting, daunting thing
Just like that rocket Grandpa rode

Yeah, it was the rocket that Grandpa rode
Sounds like braggin’ but it’s true
I’m not tryin’ to big-time you
Shot up into space and he said look out down below
Gotta love that rocket that Grandpa rode

And the kids turned to flying machines
With their arms open wide like wings
But one solitary boy knows a plane is not a toy
I’m talkin’ ’bout The Man on the Moon

I still remember July ’69
We all got to stay home from school
In stark black and white we followed the flight
And the whole world was in that capsule

Oh, on the rocket that Grandpa rode
Sounds like braggin’ but it’s true
I’m not tryin’ to big-time you
Oh what a flight you’d better look out down below
Yeah, that’s the rocket that Grandpa rode

Spacemen and women on this bus
An obese driver I don’t trust
We’re goin’ to watch the shuttle fly away – last day
And for some kids behind my seat
There’s a very special treat
More than just history on display

Giant nozzles, bolts and beams
They called her Atlas by all means
Blood, sweat and tears were her payload
She was a stairway to heaven
Old Apollo 11
The rocket ship their Grandpa drove

Yeah on the rocket that Grandpa rode
Sounds like braggin’ but it’s true
I’m not tryin’ to big-time you
Rising up from that lagoon, we beat those Commies to the moon
Yeah on the rocket their Grandpa rode
Yeah on the rocket their Grandpa drove

Thank you Neil
Thank you NASA
Thank you Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock
And Scotty and Lieutenant Uhura and Chekov…

Jimmy’s Note:

I was invited by some friends of mine, who were astronauts, to go to the last launch of the shuttle. It was all spacemen and women. People who had been to space. It was an honor to be asked to go there. I knew people had taken my CD’s up to the space station before. And I think they’re the bravest people to ride rocket ships out there. They do it 24 hours a day and they’re only recognized if some horrible disaster happens. But their dedication on a daily basis pretty much goes unnoticed.

We were all bussed over from this not-elaborate hotel to the Cape. I was riding with my friend Alan Poindexter, who was a shuttle captain, who was telling me what it was like flying over America when you’re descending into Florida in the shuttle. Fascinating stories to be as a flyer. Behind us there was this quiet couple and a couple of kids sitting there with their iPads like kids on a bus ride with a bunch of boring adults saying “when we gonna get there dad?” Then the dad says when we get there we’re going to go to the museum, we’re gonna go look at the shuttle, then we’re going to go see the rocket that grandpa rode. And I went “that is some kind of statement. The rocket that grandpa rode.” I was thinking “who could this be?” I snuck a look back and on the nametag was ‘Armstrong.’ It wasn’t Neil. It was his son and grandson.

We went through the tour and saw the Atlas rocket on display and the Apollo rockets, and when we got off the bus I introduced myself and said “you know there aren’t many people who could say that line you said to your son. You may see that line again. Is that ok?” And he said “sure.” So I can’t wait for the Armstrong family to hear that song.

Unfortunately shortly after that my friend Alan Poindexter was killed in a jetskiing accident, so this song is dedicated to him and his family, and everybody who has gone up to space.

By the way, I am going to space before I’m done here!

— from the Radio Margaritaville Album Preview Special