blatantly bad 70s songs: convoy (C. W. McCall)
happy birthday, BS. this one’s for you, you all-american guy.
C. W. McCall (Bill Fries) made truckers cool (an oxymoron if ever there was one) and started a huge citizens band (CB) radio craze in the mid-1970s, all because of his novelty hit convoy. yes, children, the 70s were full of novelty hits, some dumb, some dumber, and some incredibly moronic. my favorites were the type made by the late, great dickie goodman, like mr. jaws, where goodman would interlace a story with snippets of popular songs. i would spend my days writing my own versions of mr. jaws — i turned one in to my music teacher as an assignment. i’m sure i got a pat on the head and a note in my permanent record.
but convoy is a classic piece of white trash. i blame it for things like the popularity of the dukes of hazzard, for one thing. yay! let’s sing about burly men who probably think cracker barrel is the height of american cuisine! i admit, the lyrics are sheer poetry. how to pick favorite parts of the song? like trying to pick out which cousin i would rather marry which child is my favorite.
but i’m game.
There ‘as armored cars, and tanks, and Jeeps
An’ rigs of every size
Yeah them chicken coops ‘as full a bears
An’ choppers filled the skies
Well we shot the line, an’ we went for broke
With a thousand screamin’ trucks
And eleven long-haired friends of Jesus
In a chartreuse microbus
chartreuse? wow. that’s a .50 word right there, mr. trucker.
the song was absolutely HUGE in christmas of 1975 when my family drove on down to florida for our semi-annual holiday visit to the grandparents. and kids, since this was years before we had tape players in our cars (dad didn’t get a tape player in a car until the 1980s showed up), we were at the very mercy of local radio stations. (and all this in an era when I-95 was not exactly completed.) oh yes, there were moments when we could get musicradio WABC, all the way from NYC, in the middle of the night in the middle of the carolinas; but mostly, we were at the mercy of deep south local radio. which, at that time, seemed to be heavy on country and revivals and local chatter.
we would pray to get some top 40 station (this was before we ended up listening, nonstop, to FM and the glories of album-oriented rock.) and no matter where we were in our travels, we would hear CONVOY screaming from the little tinny radio. at one point, when we were driving over some florida bridge, someone thought they saw a condor, and then, the song became CONDOR to my family. to this day, i am not entirely sure whether it’s about a truck or a bird.
a few summers later, a friend’s family took me on vacation. we drove from NJ to NC. her dad had a CB radio in the car, and there we were, two nice jewish young teens, attempting to talk CB to truckers all over the south. i’m not exactly certain, but i think there were a few truckers out there that were pretty annoyed by our pathetic attempts to talk on the air. in short, nice jewish girls should not be on CB radios talking to truckers.
later on, i believe there was a convoy christmas song released. nothing says christmas like a song about truck drivers because everyone knows deep-down that santa is a redneck. just look at the suit!
(oh santa baby, if you’re out there: just kidding.)