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"
ReleasedNovember 1975
Recorded1975
GenreCountry, truck-driving country
Length3:49
LabelMGM
Songwriter(s)Bill Fries
Chip Davis
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" also 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, for which McCall rerecorded the song to fit the film's storyline.

The song received newfound popularity with its use during the 2022 Freedom Convoy, to which Fries gave his approval shortly before he died.[4][5][6][7]

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) and "left 'em sittin' on the scales" (CB slang for US 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."

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 McCall.

At the beginning of the song, Rubber Duck, is the "front door" (the leader) of three semi-trailer trucks (tractor and semi-trailer) when he realizes they have a convoy. Following the Rubber Duck, Pig Pen brings up the rear (the "back door") in a "'Jimmy' haulin' hogs" (a truck powered by a two-stroke Detroit Diesel engine--A.K.A. Screamin' Jimmy[8]--with a livestock semi-trailer loaded with live pigs). The two other trucks are a Kenworth pulling logs, and a cab-over Peterbilt with a "reefer" (refrigerated trailer) attached; the lyrics are unclear which one of the two the Rubber Duck was driving (though in previous songs, McCall had been established as a bread truck driver, making the Peterbilt more likely).

The convoy begins at night on June 6 on "I-one-oh" (I-10) just outside "Shakeytown" (Los Angeles, California), as the Rubber Duck informs the two trucks that "it's clean clear to Flagtown" (Flagstaff, Arizona) and that he is going to "put the hammer down" ("hammer" being the accelerator pedal) as the convoy plans to "cross the USA." 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 on the cloverleaf interchange and have a "bear in the air" (police helicopter). The convoy moves onto Interstate 44, and by the time they reach "Chi-town" (Chicago, Illinois), the convoy—now 1,001 vehicles strong—includes a driver with the handle "Sodbuster", a "suicide jockey" (truck hauling explosives, specifically stated to be dynamite), and "11 long-haired friends of Jesus" (a reference to the then-current Jesus movement subset of Christianity) in a "chartreuse microbus" (VW Type 2). Rubber Duck has "Sodbuster" put the microbus behind the suicide jockey. Meanwhile, the police have called out "reinforcements from the 'Illi-noise' (Illinois) National Guard" and have filled the "chicken coops" (weigh stations) in an effort to stall and/or break up the convoy. Rubber Duck tells the convoy to disregard the toll as they head for the state border and continue east toward the New Jersey shore, crashing through the toll gate at 98 miles per hour (158 km/h), well above the national 55 mph limit in place at the time, in the process.

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 got detached from the convoy between Tulsa and Chicago and ended up in Omaha, Nebraska (a reference to the headquarters of American Gramaphone, which released the song, as well as Bozell & Jacobs, who created the C. W. McCall character; Omaha is also famous for its slaughterhouses, which a truck with cargo like the hogs hauled by Pig Pen would likely head to).

Chart history[edit]

Sequel[edit]

McCall's "'Round the World with the Rubber Duck" is the sequel to "Convoy".[18] In this continuation, the convoy leaves the U.S. 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.[23] 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. Archived from the original on 2012-10-20. Retrieved 2011-09-17.
  4. ^ Unterberger, Andrew (April 4, 2022). "Forever No. 1: C.W. McCall's 'Convoy'". Billboard. Retrieved April 12, 2022.
  5. ^ "Country music star C.W. McCall dies at 93". MSN. April 12, 2022. Retrieved April 12, 2022.
  6. ^ Barnett, Betsy (March 2, 2022). "We Got Us a Convoy: The Colorado Freedom Convoy Heads East on I70 on Thursday". Kiowa County Independent. Retrieved April 12, 2022.
  7. ^ Howard, Jonathan (February 18, 2022). "Outlaw Country Singer C.W. McCall in Hospice". Outsider. Retrieved April 12, 2022.
  8. ^ Jensen, James. "Detroit Diesel - North American Diesel icon".
  9. ^ "C.W. McCall Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  10. ^ "C.W. McCall Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  11. ^ "C.W. McCall Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard.
  12. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 1/31/76". Tropicalglen.com. Archived from the original on 20 October 2018. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
  13. ^ "Forum - 1970 (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Australian-charts.com. Archived from the original on 2016-06-02. Retrieved 2017-05-07.
  14. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 26, No. 14 & 15, January 08 1977". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Archived from the original on March 19, 2016. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  15. ^ "The Official New Zealand Music Chart". THE OFFICIAL NZ MUSIC CHART.
  16. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1976/Top 100 Songs of 1976". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
  17. ^ "Cash Box YE Pop Singles - 1976". Tropicalglen.com. Archived from the original on 20 October 2018. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
  18. ^ Christy, Richard (February 18, 1977). "Record Reviews". The Kingston Whig-Standard (Kingston, Ontario, Canada). p. 42.
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-10-23. Retrieved 2011-10-21.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ "Sheeler and Sheeler: Car Phone". Retrieved 2017-08-27.
  21. ^ "Archived copy". www.mocedades.com. Archived from the original on 24 August 2014. Retrieved 27 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-08-27. Retrieved 2014-08-24.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  23. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "This Time Around – Paul Brandt". Allmusic. Retrieved August 17, 2011.

External links[edit]