The Grand River Raft Race
- The song, released in 1977
- Pictures of me as a kid and a raft being built
- A letter from the President of the United States of America regarding the 1974 Raft Race
Check it out
An mp3 of the 1977 song The Grand Rapids Grand River Raft Race by Tom Freeman, on Rafter Records.
Well, all gather 'round in the Wolverine State, gonna tell about a day that's gonna be great,
In the sunny month of August in a beautiful place, gonna tell about the big Grand River Raft Race.
Well the Michigan folks been waiting for a year, and the day of the raft race's almost here,
Yeah, the folks gather 'round from all over the place, gather round for the big Grand River Raft Race.
I's settin' round the house and a roastin' in the summer, and a-twiddlin' my thumbs and a-thinking what a bummer,
When I heard a feller talkin' on the kitchen radio, sayin' "git y'sef a raft, that's the only way to go
To the Grand River Raft Race, comin' real soon," and as shore as I'm a-settin' here pickin' this tune,
He said you can help y'sef and have a good time too, and the way he talked it sounded like the proper thing to do.
He said set y'feet a-walkin' with y'vim and y'vigger, and somethin' that he said gave a tug to my trigger,
So I fared up m'Chevvy and I took a little journey, got a barrel and a log and a board ...
Gall durn 'e waddn' kiddin' bout the raft race, gonna be good, put the pieces all together so they float like they should,
Got 'er lookin' so purty but I don't wanna gloat, yeah, enough of this jabber, now I wanna see it float.
I built that raft with an alligator grin and a corncob pipe like a-Huckleberry Finn,
And a head and a galley and a color TV, and a keg and a 47 channel CB ...
Uh, you got a copy, now, breaker, breaker, breaker, done built me a raft, gonna load 'er up 'n take 'er
On the back of my truck on down to the shore, 'n then float down the river, 'that's a big 10-4.
Now come on, hammer down, 47 channel, said Huckleberry Finn, now, that's my handle,
And the Grand's my 20 with a great big laugh, in a convoy made of a thousand rafts.
Log raft, oil drum, inner tube or boat. G'won put 'er in, hot dang, long as it'll float.
Then I pumped up the keg, got ready for the trip, and I drew me a brew and I said "Let 'er rip!"
Cranked up my truck and I left the sticks, and I shot that dunker down I-96,
Gonna win that race, gonna make my mark, then I stuck my truck in Riverside Park.
They's all kinds a rafts lookin' all kinds 'ways, this thing's lookin' bigger than Festival Days,
In the great out-a-doors I's a-ruffin' and a-tuffin', and floatin' down the Grand just smokin' and a-puffin'.
They's people on boats and jeeps on floats and skippers and crews and flippers and canoes,
And beds and cots all floatin' like yachts, and rafts with rails and bedsheet sails.
And pontoons, rowboats, stern-wheel paddlers, Vikings, slowboats, bicycle straddlers,
The Monitor, the Merrimac, and even Noah's ark, on the Grand River down by Riverside Park.
Then I figgered that I didn't wanna so it all alone, so I made up a list and I picked up the phone,
And I called everybody that'd do it for grins, and I wound up callin' up 42 friends.
And I told 'em get a movin' and I waddn' just a-funnin' and I peeked out the phone booth and there they come a runnin'
And before I could even get back to the road, ever' one of my 42 friends had showed!
With flutes and tubas and tanks and scubas and piccolos, dobros, Beech Nut and Tube Rose,
Fourteen banjos and right in the middle was a mandolin, a harp, and a double bass fiddle.
Then I studied and I figgered and I nearly went daft, floatin' 43 people on a 12-foot raft,
Then we all got busy from the foam to the dregs, gonna float this sucker on empty kegs.
Well that's the end of my tale and I guarantee that the fun's on WLAV,
But I told a little fib what I said before, this ain't the end, I gonna do some more.
I said paddlin' skeddadlin' ever-which a-way, in a homemade raft all the livelong day
From the boat and canoe club floatin' down the Grand, let's wind it up y'all gimme a hand.
Well pole it, paddle it, roll it, rattle it, fan it, sail it, man it, bail it,
Wheel it, keel it, shuffle up and deal it, laugh it, love it, live it, feel it!
How many times do you ever get a chance, when it's too wet to plough and you shore can't dance,
Just to bring the whole family to a beautiful place, to the big Grand Rapids Grand River Raft Race.
©1977 Tom Freeman Productions. Inc.
All Rights Reserved
- Photos of the raft race
- Grand Rapids Press articles about the raft race