The Lousy Co-Pilot

I visit Cocoa Beach, Florida every once in awhile. It’s known for surfing and old 1950’s beach ambience, but it also has a strong aviation culture. Patrick Air Force Base is only a few miles down the road, and airmen can always be found in Cocoa Beach.

The downtown has a number of shops and boutiques, including a vinyl store with an impressive inventory. Being interested in folk music, on my last visit I grabbed a couple of albums by a guy named Oscar Brand. He sings the folk songs of the Air Force on the album Wild Blue Yonder.

All of his songs on the albums I have are based on folk tunes from earlier times. (Folk singers recycle melodies for easier learning and transmission – songs from the 19th century and earlier became the tunes of the 20th century labor movement and then the mid-20th century civil rights movement).

One of my favorites in the Brand collection is “The Poor Co-Pilot” which is sung to the folk song “Sweet Betsy from Pike.” Both songs happen to be about traveling companions who don’t get along too well, but both are also humerous. “The Poor Co-Pilot” stresses the common condition of a co-pilot (or first officer) who, because he is younger and less experienced, is forced to do everything for the captain. The captain does nothing but sleep, but no doubt the captain complains his co-pilot is “lousy.” If you are acquainted with  many pilots, you will recognize how common this situation is!

I have eagerly transferred these vinyl songs to mp3 digital format, but since somone else has already uploaded this song with lyrics, you can have a listen here:


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