The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Monday Music "Convoy"

This song and movie was part of what I called the "Counterculture rebellion" against "Da Man"  After having the first edition of the nanny state rammed through American society, the people that remembered what it was like before smog converters, and the dreaded "double nickel" speed limit among many other things spawned a bunch of movies that depicted regular people against authority like "Smokey and the Bandit," Cannonball run and others were very popular in the late 70's and it helped kickoff the CB Radio craze.  Yes I still have my CB Radio, she is a Cobra 29 classic and I am the "Gray Ghost"  I still use it occasionally when I drive my Ranger Pickup.  They seem to work well in trucks...not so much on cars.

"Convoy" is a 1975 novelty song performed by C. W. McCall (pseudonym of Bill Fries) that became a number-one song on both the country and pop charts in the US. Written by McCall and Chip Davis, the song spent six weeks at number one on the country charts and one week at number one on the pop charts. The song went to number one in Canada as well, hitting the top of the RPM Top Singles Chart on January 24, 1976. "Convoy" further peaked at number two in the UK. The song's success helped start a fad for citizens band (CB) radio. The song was the inspiration for the 1978 Sam Peckinpah film Convoy.

The song consists of three types of interspersed dialog: a simulated CB conversation with CB slang, the narration of the story, and the chorus. It is about a fictitious trucker rebellion that drives from the west to the east coast of the United States without stopping. What they are protesting against (other than the 55 mph speed limit), is shown by lines such as "we tore up all of our swindle sheets" (CB slang for log sheets used to record driving hours; the term referenced the practice of falsifying entries to show that drivers were getting proper sleep when, in reality, the drivers were driving more than the prescribed number of hours before mandatory rest) and "left 'em settin' on the scales" (CB slang for Department of Transportation weigh stations on Interstates and highways to verify the weight of the truck and the drivers' hours of working through log books). The song also refers to toll roads: "We just ain't a-gonna pay no toll." Also the "hammer" is the gas pedal; putting it down meant to place and push this pedal to the floor so as to feed more gas to the engine therefore breaking the 55 speed limit.
The conversation is between "Rubber Duck," "Pig Pen" and "Sodbuster," primarily through Rubber Duck's side of the conversation. The narration and CB chatter are by Fries.
At the beginning of the song a "Kenworth pulling logs," being driven by Rubber Duck, is the "front door" (the leader) of three eighteen-wheelers (tractor and semi-trailer) when he realizes they have a convoy. Following the Rubber Duck is an unnamed trucker in a "cab-over Pete with a reefer on" (a refrigerated trailer, hauled by a Peterbilt truck configured with the cab over the engine), while Pig Pen brings up the rear (the "back door") in a "'Jimmy' (GMC truck) haulin' hogs."
The convoy begins toward "Flagtown" (Flagstaff, Arizona) at night on June 6 on "I-one-oh" (I-10) just outside "Shakytown" (Los Angeles, California, due to its earth tremors). By the time they get to "Tulsatown" (Tulsa, Oklahoma), there are 85 trucks and the "bears / Smokeys" (police, a reference to the campaign hats worn by many state police departments as well as the United States Forest Service mascot Smokey Bear) have set up a road block and have a "bear in the air" (police helicopter). By the time they get to "Chi-town" (Chicago, Illinois), the convoy includes a "suicide jockey" (truck hauling explosives) and "eleven long-haired friends of Jesus (11 born-again hippies) in a chartreuse microbus" (a Volkswagen Type 2) ("Sodbuster"), and the police have called out "reinforcements from the 'Illi-noise' (Illinois) National Guard." The convoy crashes another road block when crossing a toll bridge into New Jersey, and by this time they have "a thousand screamin' trucks" in all.
The song's running gag has Rubber Duck complaining about the smell of the hogs that Pig Pen is hauling. He repeatedly asks the offending driver to "back off" (slow down). By the end, Pig Pen has fallen so far back, when Rubber Duck is in New Jersey, Pig Pen has only gotten as far as Omaha (a reference to the headquarters of American Gramaphone, which released the song, and also a reference to the slaughterhouses for which Omaha is famous). Also, Omaha was C.W. McCall's "home 20" (a reference to the ten-code for location).

1 comment:

  1. Yep, that rebellion didn't quit until the upped the limits... Just sayin... And 'most' troopers were smart enough NOT to pull over a string of trucks!!!