Discover more from Creosote Newsletter
Diesel Smoke & Dangerous Curves
Issue 03: Truckin' Songs, CB radios and The Arkansas Motormouth
Woke up this morning with Hot Rod Lincoln by Commander Cody on repeat in my head. Thanks, brain, you finally got a good song stuck– haven’t heard that one in years. After pulling weeds and picking up the dog shit in the backyard, I opened Youtube and click-click-bang, it was playing in the office. (Original by Charley Ryan)
So then, as one does, I stuck my hand down the Youtube rabbit hole and soon I was up to my elbow, then shoulder and waist– and in a matter of minutes I was gone. Rootin’ around down in the magical treasure trove of music, I stumbled on the classic gem, Convoy, by CW McCall. (1975)
I told my wife later that I was kinda embarrassed to admit it, but from the first baritone verse, gooseflesh sprouted and rippled up my arms.
Was the dark of the moon on the sixth of June
In a Kenworth pullin' logs
Cab-over Pete with a reefer on
And a Jimmy haulin' hogs
We is headin' for bear on I-10
'Bout a mile outta Shaky Town
I says, "Pig Pen, this here's the Rubber Duck
And I'm about to put the hammer down.”
I loved that song as a kid in the late ‘70s. My dad wasn’t a trucker, but always installed a CB in the vehicles he owned in those years. Everyone had a CB handle. My mom’s was Drip Dry, and dad was a state park ranger at the time, so his handle was The Rovin’ Ranger. I remember my brothers and I trying to come up with our own cool CB handles.
Dad was really into ham radios back then as well. He and a buddy installed a huge, 100 foot tall rotary tower antenna behind the house that could catch sideband communications from Australia and Japan when the sunspots were active. CQ, CQ, CQDX!
“…And eleven long-haired friends of Jesus
in a chartreuse micro bus.”
Convoy did six weeks at number one on the country charts and one week at number one on the pop charts.
Truckin’ songs have been a staple in the US for decades but until my latest Youtube musical obsession search, I’d never heard this risqué tune from one of the kings of eighteen wheeler songs, Red Simpson: I Got A Beaver On My Lap And A Bear On My Tail.
Dave Dudley’s Six Days on the Road sold 2 million copies and a bunch of other great musicians recorded that song as well: Red Simpson, Steve Earle, Sawyer Brown, Junior Brown, George Thorogood and the man who quickly became one of my new favorite truckin’ troubadours, Dick Curless. His song, Chick Inspector, has been on heavy rotation for a couple weeks.
What the world needs now is a decades-sprawling, deep-dive documentary on the entire truckin’ culture. Somebody get Ken Burns and PBS on the ham radio, pronto!
– Journal Entry 6-22-19
UPDATE: After digging a little deeper, I found this 30 minute documentary, On The Boulevard from 1979. (Directed by Optic Nerve and copyright, Ideas In Motion.) The short film provides some insight into the “hard lives” of owner/operator truck drivers in the late 1970s– I highly recommend watching it. (Here’s the article in Overdrive magazine where I discovered the doc.)
Here’s a (very) short list of my favorite double-clutchin’, gear jammin’, CB radio truckin’ jams:
Jerry Reed: Caffein, Nicotine, Benzedrine (And Wish Me Luck)
Bobby Braddock: Gear Bustin' Sort of a Feller
Although usually the Creosote newsletter is a standard “List of Cool Things You Should Know About” style, once in a while I’ll take a longer look at one topic like in this issue.
Thanks for reading! If you like the newsletter, you can help keep it alive by forwarding it to someone else who’d dig it or watch my art vids on Youtube or follow along on your favorite social media.