Just over a year after his death, the musical tributes to the late Neil Armstrong, the first moonwalker, keep pouring in. According to an August 26, 2013 story in Space.com, Jimmy Buffett’s first album in four years, “Songs from St. Somewhere,” contains such a musical commemoration, “That Rocket that Grandpa Rode.”
“Yeah, on the rocket grandpa rode
Sounds like bragging but it's true
I'm not trying to bed time you
Shout out in the space and he said,
Look out down below!
Got love, that rocket grandpa rode!”
Like many songs of that sort, “That Rocket that Grandpa Rode” has a story attached to it. It seems that Rick Armstrong and his kids were on the same VIP bus with Jimmy Buffett to view the last launch of the space shuttle.
“As recalled by Rick Armstrong, one of the moonwalker's two sons, he and his children were seated in the very last row of the bus. As they were driven past the voluminous Vehicle Assembly Building, he remarked something along the lines of, "that’s where the rocket that grandpa rode was put together."
“Hearing this, the man seated in front of Armstrong and his family turned around and replied, ‘That sounds like a good idea for a song,” Rick Armstrong recounted.
That man was Jimmy Buffett and what was resulted with a rollicking tribute to the first man on the moon.
“And the kids turn the flying machines
With their arms opened wide like queens
But one solitary boy knows the plane is not a toy
I'm talking about the man on the moon!
I still remember July 69
We all got to stay home from school.
It start black and white, we followed the flight
And the whole world was in that capsule!”
The Apollo 11 mission to the moon was certainly something that should be celebrated in song and story, like some hero epic of old. Now, somewhat belatedly, it now is.