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"Convoy" is a 1975 novelty song performed by C. W. McCall (pseudonym of Bill Fries) that became a number-one rated success in the USAmarker (#2 UK) and helped start a fad for citizens band (CB) radio. The song was the inspiration for the 1978 Sam Peckinpah film Convoy.


The song

The song consists of three types of interspersed dialog: a simulated CB conversation with CB slang, the narration of the story and the chorus. It is about a fictitious trucker rebellion that drives from the west to the east coast of the United Statesmarker without stopping. What they are protesting against (other than the 55 mph speed limit), is shown by lines such as "We tore up all our swindle sheets and left 'em settin' on scales." (The reference is to log sheets used to record driving hours; the sheets were referred to on occasion as 'swindle sheets' as they were often created 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; 'Scales' refers to 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 Fries.

At the beginning of the song a "Kenworth pullin' logs," being driven by Rubber Duck, is the "front door" (the leader) of three eighteen-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' (GMC truck) haulin' hogs."

The convoy begins toward "Flagtown" (Flagstaff, Arizonamarker) at night on June 6 on "I-one-oh" (I-10) just outside "Shakytown" (Los Angeles, Californiamarker, due to its earth tremors). By the time they get to "Tulsatown" (Tulsa, Oklahomamarker), there are 85 trucks and the "bears" (police) have set up a road block and have a "bear in the air" (police helicopter). By the time they get to "Chi-town" (Chicago, Illinoismarker), the convoy has been joined by "Sodbuster" (another trucker in an unspecified make of truck), a "suicide jockey" (truck hauling explosives) and "eleven long-haired friends of Jesus (11 hippies) in a chartreuse microbus" (a Volkswagen Type 2), and the police have called out "reinforcements from the 'Illinois' (Illinoismarker) National Guard." The convoy crashes another road block when crossing a toll bridge into New Jerseymarker, 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" (fall further behind). By the end, Pig Pen has fallen so far back that when Rubber Duck is in New Jersey, Pig Pen has only gotten as far as Omahamarker (a reference to the headquarters of American Gramaphone, which released the song).

Chart performance

Chart (1975) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 1


Sequel

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 Englandmarker, Francemarker, Westmarker and East Germanymarker, the USSRmarker, Japanmarker, and Australia.

Remakes

C. W. McCall recorded a new version of the song with different lyrics for the soundtrack of the 1978 film Convoy. McCall also made two additional re-recordings of the original song, one for his 1990 album The Real McCall: An American Storyteller, and the other for the 2003 Mannheim Steamroller album American Spirit.

The song has been covered by artists such as Ferlin Husky, Boxcar Willie, and Tommy Hill's Music Festival.

In 1976 a British version, Convoy GB, featuring BBC Radio 1 DJs Dave Lee Travis and Paul Burnett as Laurie Lingo & The Dipsticks, made #4 on the UK singles chart. In this version, the two truckers are "Superscouse" and "Plastic Chicken".

The song made an appearance in The Simpsons, in the episode "Radio Bart". Another episode, "'Tis the Fifteenth Season", featured a Christmas themed version called "Christmas Convoy". An excerpt of the song was featured in the "Grand Wheelchair Rally" sketch of The Benny Hill Show (episode #33, original airdate 1978-12-26). The song was also sung by Earl, Joy and Randy in an episode of My Name is Earl, entitled "Made a Lady Think I Was God". The song was featured in the television series Futurama, in the episode "Parasites Lost". The current Fire in the Night show at the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver, BC is also based upon the most recent Paul Brandt version of the song.

Parodies

In 1990, husband-and-wife comedy duo Sheeler and Sheeler recorded a parody of the song entitled "Car Phone," about a self-centered yuppie in Southern California making calls on his cellular telephone while stuck in traffic, with cell phone chatter replacing the CB chatter. The song was featured on Dr. Demento's 25th Anniversary Collection album.

In July 2003, a parody of the song entitled "Chat Room" was recorded by radio personality Bob Rivers. In this version, a middle-aged man using the screen name "Mickey17" has a racy online conversation with a stranger who turns out to be his own teenaged son, Chip (a reference to Chip Davis).

Paul Brandt version

The song was covered in 2004 by Paul Brandt. The video features Brandt and fellow country singers Jason McCoy and Aaron Lines as well as then Calgary Flames defensemen Mike Commodore and Rhett Warrener as truckers and George Canyon, of Nashville Star fame, as the highway patrol officer. The video can be seen on CMT in both Canadamarker and the United Statesmarker. Brandt's version of the song peaked at #9 on the Canadian Country Singles chart.

The song was re-written into a Christmas song by Paul Brandt on his A Gift album. This re-written version was called "Christmas Convoy" and it peaked at #28 on the Canadian country charts.

Paul Brandt was at the Dauphin Country Music Festival in Manitoba and saw a trucking company with his name on it. After some talking, the owner of the company agreed to let Paul Brandt use his trucks for the music video.

Chart performance

Chart (2004) Peak
position
Canadian Radio & Records Country Singles 9


References

  1. http://www.themadmusicarchive.com/song_details.aspx?SongID=489


External links




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