Uneasy Rider

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For other uses, see Uneasy Rider (disambiguation).
"Uneasy Rider"
Single by Charlie Daniels
from the album Honey in the Rock
B-side "Funky Junky"
Released June 1973
Format 7" single
Genre Country, Rockabilly
Length 5:18
Label Kama Sutra 576
(U.S. 7" single)
Writer(s) Charlie Daniels
Producer(s) Charlie Daniels

"Uneasy Rider" is a 1973 song written and performed by American singer and multi-instrumentalist Charlie Daniels.[1] It consists of a narrative, containing none of the title, that is spoken rather than sung over a guitar melody and is sometimes considered a novelty song. It was released as a single and appeared on Daniels' album Honey in the Rock which is also sometimes known as Uneasy Rider.

Plot[edit]

The narrator protagonist of "Uneasy Rider" is a long-haired marijuana smoker driving a Chevrolet with a "peace sign, mag wheels, and four on the floor." The song is a spoken-word description of an interlude in a trip from a non-specified location in the Southern United States to Los Angeles, California. When one of the narrator's tires goes flat in Jackson, Mississippi, he stops at a "redneck" bar where he encounters several local residents who question his manners, physical appearance, and choice of car. In order to extricate himself from a potential physical altercation, the narrator accuses one of the locals of being a spy, then escapes from the bar and drives away as soon as his tire is repaired.

Cultural references[edit]

The lyrics reflect cultural divisions in the Southern United States in the early 1970s between the counterculture of the 1960s and more traditional Southern culture. Unlike with most country music of the time, Daniels' protagonist is a member of the counterculture. The narrator attempts to distract attention from himself and his appearance by proclaiming that one of the locals he encounters is an "...undercover agent for the FBI / and he's been sent down here to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan!" He continues with, "Would you believe this man has gone as far / As tearing Wallace stickers off the bumpers of cars. / And he voted for George McGovern for President." He further states that the man is "...a friend of them long-haired, hippie-type, pinko fags! / I betcha he's even got a Commie flag / tacked up on the wall inside of his garage." The accused defends himself with "You know he's lying I been living here all of my life! / I'm a faithful follower of Brother John Birch / And I belong to the Antioch Baptist Church. / And I ain't even got a garage, you can call home and ask my wife!" The narrator slips outside, just in time to get to the mechanic he had phoned to repair his tire and throw him a $20 bill, and chases his redneck adversaries around the parking lot in his car. He finally decides to leave before the police arrive, not even slowing down until he was almost to Arkansas, and muses, "Well I think I'm gonna reroute my trip / I wonder if anybody'd think I'd flipped / If I went to L.A. via Omaha."

Daniels' counterculture attitude was consistent with that of others in the outlaw country music movement but is in contrast to his later right-of-center attitudes expressed in songs such as 1989's "Simple Man."

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1973) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks 67
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 9
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 69
Canadian RPM Top Singles 18

Uneasy Rider '88[edit]

"Uneasy Rider '88"
Single by The Charlie Daniels Band
from the album Homesick Heroes
Released November 1988
Recorded May 4, 1988
Genre Country
Length 4:26
Writer(s) Tommy Crain
Charlie Daniels
Taz DiGregorio
Jack Gavin
Charlie Hayward
Producer(s) James Stroud

The Charlie Daniels Band's 1988 album Homesick Heroes featured the single "Uneasy Rider '88" that was musically and thematically similar to "Uneasy Rider" but with a story set in a Houston, Texas gay bar.

Content[edit]

Two men decide to travel to New Orleans, Louisiana to party but on the way get pulled over by a police officer for speeding. They decide to stop at the Cloud 9 Bar and Grill in Houston, Texas. The narrator reacts violently to a sexual overture from a customer, which instigates a fight with the locals. (It is interesting that the narrator lands the first blow in both this and the original, albeit for different reasons.) His friend joins in, and - during the fight - learns that the good looking gal that he'd been dancing with was a transvestite or crossdresser. The narrator and his friend then struggle to leave the bar amid the fight and get into their vehicle and speed away and then get pulled over by the same police officer who stopped them earlier. They end up in a county jail where the narrator then swears off drinking and partying.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Later releases from Charlie Daniels are credited to "the Charlie Daniels Band" including compilations featuring "Uneasy Rider" but the single and the album were originally credited to "Charlie Daniels."