For Michael Collins, Jeffrey and Me

 

I'm sure you've heard by now of the passing of Michael Collins, command module pilot for the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. For many his name and face bring instant recognition, but for those of us who lived through it, it brings back unforgettable moments when we held our breath, watching the sketchy images beaming back from the rocky satellite orbiting the Earth, a quarter million miles away. 

Three men made history that day, yet one had to remain in the command module circling the moon, while fellow astronauts Aldrin and Armstrong, left their indelible footprints behind on alien soil. Once Aldrin and Armstrong left the surface, Collins would rendezvous and dock with the Eagle. It was a maneuver they had practiced repeatedly, and on a summer day in July 1969, it went off without a hitch. 

Collins, often called the "loneliest man" once he returned to Earth, never felt that way. "It was a happy home. I liked Columbia," he said. "It reminded me, in a way, of almost like a church or a cathedral. It had the apse, the three couches, and then you went down into where the altar was. That was the guidance and navigation system. And it was laid out almost like a cathedral. And I had hot coffee. I had music I could play if I wanted to. I had people to talk to on the radio, sometimes too many people talking too much on the radio. So I enjoyed that interlude. Being by myself in a machine up in the air somewhere was not unknown to me, and so everything was working well within Columbia, and I enjoyed it."

And yesterday when I heard the sad news of his passing, I couldn't help recall a song by Jethro Tull, "For Michael Collins, Jeffrey and Me", written shortly after the Apollo 11 mission. Here's a beautiful cover version by Stewart Wood. 


Watery eyes of the last sighing seconds

Blue reflections mute and dim

Beckon tearful child of wonder

To repentance of the sin

And the blind and lusty lovers

Of the great eternal lie

Go on believing nothing

Since something has to die

And the ape's curiosity

Money power wins

And the yellow, soft mountains

Move under him

Chorus

I'm with you L.E.M

Though it's a shame that it had to be you

The mother ship

Is just a blip from your trip made for two

I'm with you boys

So please employ just a little extra care

It's on my mind

I'm left behind when I should have been there

Walking with you

Verse

And the limp face hungry viewers

Fight to fasten with their eyes

Like the man hung from the trapeze

Whose fall will satisfy

And congratulate each other

On their rare and wondrous deed

That their begrudged money bought

To sow the monkey's seed

And the yellow soft mountains

They grow very still

Witness as intrusion

The humanoid thrill

Chorus

I'm with you L.E.M

Though it's a shame that it had to be you

The mother ship

Is just a blip from my trip made for two

I'm with you boys

So please employ just a little extra care

It's on my mind

I'm left behind when I should have been there

Walking with you

With you

With you

Rest in peace, Michael. Here's to you and all the other heavenly explorers who enthralled old and young alike, and enabled Earthlings to dream the dream of centuries. 





Comments

Anonymous said…
5/4/21 Did astronaut Michael Collins know of this "For Michael Collins, Jeffrey & me" song? If so, is there any record of what Michael Collins felt about the song? Proud Daughter's 4/29/21 tribute to Michael Collins & Stewart Wood's singing Jethro Tull's song written by Ian Anderson are wonderful. Thank you, Birdman.
Proud Daughter said…
That is a great question. I have no answer for this, but it would be a cooll thing to look into.

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