Convoy (song)

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"Convoy"
McCall - Convoy.jpg
Single by C. W. McCall
from the album Black Bear Road
B-side "Long Lonesome Road"
Released November 1975
Format 7"
Recorded 1975
Genre Country, truck-driving country
Length 3:49
Label MGM
Songwriter(s) Bill Fries
Chip Davis
Note: the original single explicitly credits authorship to "C.W.McCall - Bill Fries - Chip Davis", although Fries and McCall are the same person.
Producer(s) Don Sears
Chip Davis
C. W. McCall singles chronology
"Black Bear Road"
(1975)
"Convoy"
(1975)
"There Won't Be No Country Music (There Won't Be No Rock 'n' Roll)"
(1976)

"Convoy" is a 1975 novelty song performed by C. W. McCall (a character co-created and voiced by Bill Fries, along with Chip Davis) that became a number-one song on both the country and pop charts in the US and is listed 98th among Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time.[1] Written by McCall and Chip Davis, the song spent six weeks at number one on the country charts [2] 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.[3] "Convoy" further peaked at number two in the UK. The song capitalized on the fad for citizens band (CB) radio. The song was the inspiration for the 1978 Sam Peckinpah film Convoy.

Content[edit]

The song consists of three types of interspersed dialogue: a simulated CB conversation with CB slang, the narration of the story, and the chorus. It is about a fictional trucker rebellion that drives from the West Coast to the East Coast of the United States without stopping. What they are protesting (other than the 55 mph speed limit, then recently introduced in response to the 1973 oil crisis) 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 referred to 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 in order to shorten trip time) 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 accelerator pedal; putting it down fed more diesel fuel to the engine, therefore breaking the speed limit. (An album compilation of "trucking songs" was entitled "Put the Hammer Down.")

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", driven by Rubber Duck, is the "front door" (the leader) of three 18-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' haulin' hogs" (GMC truck with a livestock semi trailer loaded with hogs).

The convoy begins toward "Flagtown" (Flagstaff, Arizona) at night on June 6 on "I-one-oh" (I-10) just outside "Shakeytown" (Los Angeles, California). By the time they get to "Tulsatown" (Tulsa, Oklahoma), there are 85 trucks and the "bears / Smokeys" (state police, specifically the highway patrol, who commonly wear the same campaign hats 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 driver having the handle "Sodbuster", a "suicide jockey" (truck hauling explosives), and "11 long-haired friends of Jesus" (a reference to the then-current Jesus movement subset of Christianity) in a chartreuse VW Type 2 ("microbus"). Meanwhile, 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 reached 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).

Chart history[edit]

Sequel[edit]

McCall's "'Round the World with the Rubber Duck" is the sequel to "Convoy." In this continuation, the convoy leaves the United States and travels around the world, through Britain, France, West and East Germany, the USSR, Japan, and Australia.

Remakes and covers[edit]

Paul Brandt version[edit]

The song was covered in 2004 by Paul Brandt.[17] The video features Brandt and fellow country singers Jason McCoy and Aaron Lines as well as then Calgary Flames defencemen Mike Commodore and Rhett Warrener as truckers and George Canyon, of Nashville Star fame, as the highway patrol officer. The video was seen on CMT in both Canada and the United States. It was filmed at CFB/ASU Wainwright on Airfield 21. The song appears on the 2004 album This Time Around.

Brandt also recorded a Christmas version called "Christmas Convoy", which appears on the 2006 holiday album A Gift. In this version, the convoy helps Santa deliver his toys after a bad storm.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 30 October 2017. 
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 220. 
  3. ^ "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2011-09-17. 
  4. ^ "C.W. McCall Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  5. ^ "C.W. McCall Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  6. ^ "C.W. McCall Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard.
  7. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 1/31/76". Tropicalglen.com. Retrieved 30 October 2017. 
  8. ^ "Forum - 1970 (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Australian-charts.com. Archived from the original on 2016-06-02. Retrieved 2017-05-07. 
  9. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 26, No. 14 & 15, January 08 1977". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved March 24, 2017. 
  10. ^ http://nztop40.co.nz/chart/?chart=3865
  11. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1976/Top 100 Songs of 1976". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 30 October 2017. 
  12. ^ "Cash Box YE Pop Singles - 1976". Tropicalglen.com. Retrieved 30 October 2017. 
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-10-23. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  14. ^ "Sheeler and Sheeler: Car Phone". Retrieved 2017-08-27. 
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-08-27. Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  17. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "This Time Around – Paul Brandt". Allmusic. Retrieved August 17, 2011. 

External links[edit]