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, talking blues
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 spoken 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 and waits 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 by claiming him to be a member of the FBI who is removing George Wallace bumper stickers, is infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan, voted for George McGovern, and is a Communist. The man defends himself by saying he's lived in Jackson all of his life and is a member of the Antioch Baptist Church and the John Birch Society. The narrator then manages to escape from the bar just as his tire is repaired; after chasing the rednecks around with his car for a short time, he decides to head due north as fast as he can, opting to reroute his path to Los Angeles through Arkansas and Omaha, Nebraska.

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 song's title, which doesn't appear in the lyrics, is a play on the film Easy Rider, which follows two counterculture motorcyclists on a journey in the opposite direction, from Los Angeles to New Orleans, Louisiana and eventually to Florida.

Daniels' counterculture attitude was consistent with that of others in the outlaw country music movement but is in contrast to his later white supremacist 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.

His friend joins in, and - during the fight - learns that the good looking gal that he'd been dancing with was a 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."