Last Flight of the Cradle of Commerce
by Robert Wynne
Music: “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot
Based on the short story “Triumverate” by Jeff Williams
© 1998

There isn’t much fun
On the Gettysburg run
As you prepare to drop out of lightspeed
But captain and crew
know full well what to do
And they do as well as any could need

There’s jokers and pirates
and foreigners high rates
And drink that will make you feel hazy
But that cannot compare
To the terror that’s there
When you serve with a captain that’s crazy

Now theres many crews fine
On the Chromium Line
But some still speak in whispers of the curse
That befell the good ship
On her one final trip
And her name was the Cradle of Commerce

Her crew was well seasoned
And they each had good reason
to look forward to port’s relaxation
But their old Captain he
Was now but one of three
And was given to sudden vexation

Captain Lutius they say
Ran a tight ship the way
You hear of in many a legend
But a white whale bore down
with a deafening sound
And drove the poor man off the deep end

Their ship was held late
By the right hand of fate
And a comet the captain did neglect
And the captain’s sole crime
Was to not be on time
Thus, his record was no longer prefect

Well, there’s many brave souls
At a big ship’s consoles
That have survived a misfortune much worse
But the good captain fell
Into three seprate hells
And with him went the Cradle of Commerce

So was on that last run
Past the Gettysburg sun
That the captain discovered the trouble
A thief sure was loose
And was stealing produce
Not just one for himself, but a double

Faced with such treason
The Captain found reason
To send the ship to its destruction
And the engines he told
To build to overload
And thus bring an end to the production

From all this they say
Only one got away
Though his name is now lost to our story
and sure nobody found
A survivor around
The ruins of the captain’s last glory

Now there’s many crews fine
On the Chromium Line
And their own tales are many and diverse
But they all recall well
Of this tale I now tell
The last flight of the Cradle of Commerce

This song was written largely on the way home from work. Jeff’s short story, “Triumverate” had been published in Aphelion that month, and I’d read it a few times, since Jeff and I often act as first readers on each other’s work, even when we AREN’T collaborating. For some reason that first verse came to me (already set to the Lightfoot tune), and the rest just flowed from there.

Jeff has complained that I managed to sum up in a four minute song what he took 11,000 words to say. I don’t really agree, though — it does summarize the story from an outsider’s point of view, but the wonderful interplay between the characters isn’t there — this is a song that I imagined might be written about this story after the fact by people who weren’t actually there. Go read the original, it’s a fun romp.