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Convoy by C.W. McCall

Album: Black Bear RoadReleased: 1975Charted:
1
2
  • This is a novelty song inspired by the CB radio craze of the mid-'70s. The story of "Convoy" was told in CB jargon and with a Country and Western (the "C.W.") twang. (thanks, Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England)
  • C.W. McCall is a character created by songwriter Bill Fries. While he displayed musical promise as a child, he was more interested in graphic design. While attending the University of Iowa, Fries studied music and played in the school's concert band, but his major was in fine arts, and after graduation he began handling the art chores at an Omaha, Nebraska television station. After 5 years there, he was hosting his own program, where he drew caricatures of celebrities. Fries signed on as the art director for an Omaha advertising agency in the early '60s, and it was there that he created the character C.W. McCall as a selling tool for an area bakery. A trucker for the fictional Old Home Bread company who spent much of his time in a diner called The Old Home Filler-Up-an'-Keep-On-a-Truckin' Cafe, the McCall character was a huge hit with viewers, and the radio campaign won Fries the advertising industry's prestigious Clio Award. In 1974, Fries decided to cut a record under the McCall moniker, and the single, a monologue with country backing titled after the aforementioned cafe, became a hit. A follow-up single, "Wolf Creek Pass," was even more successful.
  • This hit #1 on both the Pop and Country charts, and a national craze was born.
  • Sam Peckinpah made a 1978 movie based on the song starring Kris Kristofferson and Ally McGraw. By the time the movie was released, however, McCall's music career was largely over. He released two more albums, but in 1977, McCall turned his back on the music industry to focus on the burgeoning environmental movement and moved to the small town of Ouray, CO. He was elected mayor of the town in 1982. An attempt at a comeback in 1990 proved unsuccessful. (thanks, Bob - Knoxville, TN, for above 3)
  • There was a serious side to this song. It dealt with the struggles truckers were facing with restrictive speed limits, tolls, bureaucracy and fuel costs.
  • "Old Home Bread" was a real bread company in Iowa, where the ads were broadcast. They were filmed in Pisgah, a small town in the Western part of the state. (thanks, Scott - Eugene, OR)
  • Some of the CB terms used and their meanings:

    Got a Copy - do you hear me?

    Jimmy - a GMC truck. GMC no longer builds class 8 trucks.

    Headin' for bear - coming up on a police blockade. "Bear" is the CB slang term for "police."

    Shakeytown - Los Angeles, California

    Put the hammer down - speed up

    Tulsa-town - Tulsa, Oklahoma

    Smokies - highway state patrol officers

    Bear in the air - police helicopter

    Ten-nine (10-9) - repeat message

    Swindle Sheets - truckers' logs. Truckers have to keep logs of what they were hauling. These "swindle sheets" must be presented to Department Of Transportation officers on request.

    Chi-town - Chicago, Illinois

    Chicken Coop - weigh station

    Longhaired friends of Jesus - hippies

    Microbus - Volkswagen Microbus. Very popular vehicle among the hippies during the 1960s and 1970s. Another popular song that mentions the Volkswagen Microbus is "Alice's Restaurant Massacree" by Arlo Guthrie.

    "Keep the bugs off your glass and the bears off your... tail" - The real phrase is "keep the bugs off your glass and the bears off your a**". A typical CB sign-off that means to drive carefully and watch out for speedtraps.

    "What's your twenty?" - "Where are you?"

    "Catch you on the flip-flop" - "I'll talk to you on my return trip (on the way back home)." (thanks, Patrick - Tallapoosa, GA)
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Comments: 38

Fred from California: Shaky Town is Los Angeles. You will note that in the song that he is on "I 1-0' about a mile outta Shaky Town"... I 1-0 is interstate 10, which is nowhere near San Francisco. I've seen San Francisco posted in a few places, I am not sure how people got confused... But there it is.James - Anaheim, Ca
Omaha is mentioned in the closing dialogue because this was the home of the song's writer, Chip Davis, who used the royalties from this single to start American Gramaphone Records in that city. They are makers of wonderful eclectic music albums, including the highly successful Fresh Aire series.Esskayess - Dallas, Tx
Flag Town is,of course, Flagstaff Arizona.Themitch - Abilene, Tx
This line, just before the epic banjo part, doesn't make sense to me. "Back off" implies that the hog truck is BEHIND the lead driver, so how could he smell it anyhow? Maybe it's just a comic reference to a smell that infiltrates everything in sight. Or, I'm not understanding who's talking to who on the CB (sounds like the same voice on one end).

"Ah, you wanna give me a ten-nine on that, Pigpen? Negatory, Pigpen, you're still too close. Yeah, them hogs is startin' to close up my sinuses. Mercy sakes, you better back off another ten."
Jim - Pleasant Hill, Ca
A true and yet typical series of hilarious events that spawned unique pranks within the cb era.
My dad was rather notoriously known throughout Vancouver Island by his cb handle'Ureeba". I was a little, little squirt in diapers with the handle 'Fatbutt'(Pampers were limited with regards to it's diaper sizes back then and if you were in the transitional stage of growth, they'd be either way too big or way too small-thus the handle Fatbutt) who was often found rattlin' the squackbox and ten-fourin' anyone who'd come back at me.
On one rather lazy Sunday afternoon, my dad and his two partners-in-crime 'Handlebars Art' and the 'White Knight'were discussing a locally irritating "alligator station", better known as 'Queen Bee'. (alligator station = all mouth and no ears. Aka:someone who'd hit the airwaves and obnoxiously overtalk everyone or override the radio signals which made it near impossible for anyone else to ride the waves and talk) They had spent the day building a series of quad antennas to boost their own signals in order to overrun Queen's signal thereby giving her a taste of her own medicine. Their seemingly harmless antics had two unexpected outcomes.
First, by bouncing thier signal down, down, down, Queen was forced to increase her draw so as to be able to hear them on her radio. Once they knew QB had her radio cranked and straining, they bounced back to the highest staph on the strongest antenna which brought their signal into her set so strongly that it blew Queen Bee's cb up turning it into smokey, smelly, charred circuitry which shut Queen Bee down for quite some time after.
This spawned a second, unexpected prank. A prank that became the talk of Duncan B.C for many, many years later. Whilst the three mid-life, signal-slaying, "Rad Shack" junkies (and probably not-so-sober) each tinkering with their own respective radios, they'd "joked" on air to each other about their current covert project. They'd somehow managed to convince the radio-crazed citizens within the little town of Duncan that they were supposedly on top of one of the the local mountains (Mount Sicar) constructing the "world's largest radio antenna".
My godfather Barry, who lived about a quarter mile up Mount Sicar was listening to his squackbox when he finally caught wind of what was being concocted. Knowing full well that my dad was a very gifted bullsh!tter and that if there was anything happening up the mountain, he'd already heard about it, which he had not, he got on the phone to track down my dad's actual whereabouts. He finally found him (in 'Handlebars Art's' basement which was smack dab in the center of town) and relayed back that he'd counted dozens upon dozens,(final count, I believe, was somewhere between two and three hundred) of vehicles heading past his house and up the mountain that day, all in search for the world's biggest quad antenna...that never was.
Dawn - Merritt, Bc
this is my favourate track of all i was 6 yrs old wen this album was out brilliant trackNeven Shaw - England, United Kingdom
(from the book "The Wacky Top 40" by Bruce Nash and Allen Zullo " )" This trucker's fantasy about a 1,000 truck convoy running amok , smashing through tollgates , ignoring cops , and taking the open road was created by an adman with the CB craze. In the mid 1970s , Bill Fries ( aka C.W.McCall ) was a middle - aged art director for Bozell & Jacobs , an Omaha advertising agency. In his spare time , he liked to drive around the country , so he installed a CB in his jeep and got caught up in the CB mania that was sweeping America back then . His handle , or name on the air , was "Rubber Duck", and his wife's was "Smart Cookie". Whether he was on a weekend trip or going to and from work , Fries was always talking big rig lingo on his radio. He was "checking the seat cover" (watching out for a female driver with her skirt hiked high) while "keeping my nose between the ditches and Smokey out of my britches" (driving safely and looking out for speed traps). He soon developed an affinity for trucker. From his office , which had a commanding view of Interstate 680 , Fries thought the time was right to cash in the popularity of truckers, which had, after all, been triggered by the CB phenomenon. So his client, Omaha's Metz Baking Company and its Old Home Bread, he dreamed up an ad campaign about a trucker. In the ads, a trucker named C.W.McCall would deliver a batch of Old Home Bread to the Old Home Filler - Up an' Keep on - a Truckin' Cafe where he would flirt with a waitress named Mavis. The radio spots sold alot of bread and won a national award. In the spring of 1974, following the advice of Sound Recorders president Don Sears , Fries spun off the Old Home commercials into a country single. Three weeks after its released , "Old Home Filler - Up and Keep on - a Ttuckin' Cafe" had sold 30,000 copies locally. It eventually sold 100,000 copies nationwide and reached #54 on the country charts. Because of its success, Fries signed a five - year recording contract with MGM Records. He recorded more offbeat trucking story songs like "Wolf Creek Pass", about a truck that loses its brakes while going over the Rockies , and "Classified", about the trials and tribulations of buying a used '57 pickup. Although the songs performed well on the country charts, Fries was still a man in search of a big hit. He found it one day in 1975 when he conjured up "Convoy". While motoring down the interstate in his jeep and listening to his CB, Fries was the "back door", or last in a string of trucks and cars in contact with each other. "That's when I got the idea for 'Convoy'", he said. "When I got home that night, I put the lyrics down and built the story into a fantasy of truckers in a convoy gaining power across the U.S. until they had an army of 1,000 trucks". Fries liked the song so much that he tried to convince MGM to released it as a single. "They didn't want to do it", he recalled. "They said, 'Are you sure anyone out there will understand that CB garbage?'" As a result, MGM put "Convoy" on Fries next country album, "Black Bear Road". But a few disc jockeys picked "Convoy" out of the album and played it. The switch - board lit up with requests to play the record again and again. Within days, MGM realized the song could be a monster hit and released it as a single. "We hit a national nerve", said Fries. "Truckers have become cowboys to the American public". That's a big 10 - 4."Chomper - Franjkin County, Pa
The 45 - speed record of "Convoy" was manufactured by MGM Records , Inc. at 7165 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood , California . The song was on Side 1 , while on Side 2 ( the reverse side ) had the song , "Long Lonesome Road" ( both sang by C. W. Mccall [Bill Fries]). I have this record from the 70s , and play it alot of times.Chomper - Franjkin County, Pa
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.Brad - Barry, Tx
Shaky-Town is Los Angeles, CA




http://www.thetruckersreport.com/trucker_lingo.shtml
Bill - Wilkes Barre, Pa
Actually "Cab-over Pete with a reefer on" as Jenni referred to at the top. she is partially right, The tank under the trailer is the fuel tank for the refrigerator unit that's on the front of the trailer , however Cab-over Pete refers to a Peterbilt truck with the sleeper behind the seats ,There are 2 types of trucks Cab-over and Conventional the difference between a Cab-over and a Conventional is, to get to the motor in the cab-over you have to tip the whole cab (hence the Name) and the conventional the motor is in the front of the Cab and you lift the hood like a car. (kind of)here are some links to pictures.

Cab-Over : http://images.google.com/images?um=1&hl=en&q=cab-over+pete
Conventional : http://images.google.com/images?um=1&hl=en&q=conventional+truck
Bill - Wilkes Barre, Pa
There is another take-off song done by Bob Rivers and Twisted Tunes called "Chatroom". Its hillariousRoger - Kill Devil Hills, Nc
"Cab-over Pete with a reefer on" is referring to a Peterbilt semi that has the sleeping cab directly over the driver's seat. A reefer is the refrigeration unit (look for it underneath semis that have a cylinder-looking thing under the trailer).Jenni - Lincoln, Ne
The line is "heading for Bexar on I-10" referring to San Antonio, which is in Bexar county, and on interstate 10.Will - Memphis, Tn
Actually, 'swindle sheets' are still in use, however you hardly will hear the phrase 'swindle sheets' used. They're popularily called 'Log-Books' now and most companies still rely on them rather than using the electronic alternatives. Some of the more prominent companies (ex. Schneider) use paperless logs (The electronic ones)Mel - -, On
Shaky Town is San Francisco, not Los Angeles.Fred - California, Ca
To Patrick, Tallapoosa, GA:
Interesting piece you wrote above. Oh, just in case you are interested, the reason Cops are called 5-O is a reference to the show "Hawaii Five-O" since the show was about Hawaiian cops. It is also sometimes a reference to the cars some police departments used (and sometimes still use)with them being Mustange 5.0s.
J_bryon - Milladore/monroe, Wi
This song was featured in a Buick commercial that ran from late 2004 to approximately March 2005.Darrell - Eugene
Shane in Jeromesville, the two other acts whom I know of as "Convoy" cover artists are Paul Brant (whose name is virtually a household word in Canada), who covered the song in the mid-1990s, and the other was an obscure studio group called "T.H. Music Festival", who recorded it just after C.W. McCall's version dropped off the air, and that version is also found on most mixed CDs with "Convoy" as one of the tracks.Darrell - Eugene
GMC once had a line of semi trucks. It was purchased by Volvo. For awhile it was marketed as Volvo/White/GMC. The Jimmy mentioned in the song actually was referring to a brand of truck.Morgan - Pisgah, Ia
I would like to crash a gate doing 98 miles per hour in a 1974 Cadillac Fleetwood while listening to Frank Zappa's "Uncle Meat" album, smoking "Real" or "Long Johns" cigarettes (both out of production for about 30 years) and drinking Tab and pop rocks mixed together while I am surrounded by bratty college girls in Honda Civics that have huge wings on the back, coffee can-like mufflers and rap playing out of stereos that their no-goodnik daddies bought them (By the way, rap is NOT music, and because of the Don Imus scandal and its content, it should be outlawed)Darrell - Eugene, United States
The CB handles are the predecessor to today's chat room nicknames. The CB was the 1970's version of the 90s and 21st century's chat rooms. There was a BBQ restaurant in my town near I-20 in west Georgia called "The Big O". The lady who owned it actually had a CB radio behind the counter that she or one of the other girls that worked there would get on and advertise the restaurant to any truckers who could pick up the frequency. It was rather funny to hear them talk and use their handles "Legs", "Sunshine", and "Rainbow." I thought I had stepped back in time to when CBs were the must-have technology. The whole restaurant gave you a feeling that you were on the set of "Smokey and the Bandit". Some of the truckers would come in and they'd talk about "5-0" being out on the roads. I asked what that meant, and they said it was the cops.Patrick - Tallapoosa, Ga
I have always liked this because the instrumentation is so great and that once you decipher all the jargon the plot makes no sense whatsoever. I will admit, however, that a trip by car across the US does feel something like what's described in the song.

I think I read that the movie was, at least in part, financed by the Radio Shack electronics chain. Given the craze surrounding CB radio at the time, it seems likely enough. Betty Ford, who before she got into the rehab business was First Lady of the US, famously had a CB 'handle,' (First Mama, I believe) and the fool radios were everywhere.

Before there were cell phones, any sort of personal radio telephone was an unattainable luxury, even for the wealthy: the technology of the time dictated that only a limited number of radiotelephones could exist in a particular area, and there was but one telephone company to complain to. Thus CB radio, which used a set (or band) of thoroughly undesirable frequencies granted to the 'citizens,' (i.e., non-professional radio operators) for public use.

The entire CB movement dropped like a rock because the radios stopped working for a while because of an untimely solar storm and because there were so many people sharing the radio frequencies that nobody could hear anyone anyway. When the radio craze died, it took with it the nationwide Lafayette and Allied Radio chains, and nearly took Radio Shack as well. Rescued as always by dumb luck, Radio Shack survived because it marketed one of the first useable personal computers, the TRS-80.
Mark - Lancaster, Oh
Actually this song is used in a LOT of Simpsons but it's always with the Lyrics being wrong somewhere, and getting worse and worse as they go on.

By the time we reached the 15th season of Simpsons "Convoy" wast the only lyric that they ever got right!!!
Mjn Seifer - Not Listed For Personal Reason, England
If I remember correctly, swindle sheets are the travel logs truckers have to keep up with. They use it to record their mileage and how long they spent in the town they had to head to. Nowadays they don't have to, with GPS systems being installed in most trucks and "black box"-like instruments that can log how fast a trucker's going and his/her total mileage, as well as how long a truck is parked in a specific location.Patrick - Tallapoosa, Ga
The Christmas version of this song dubbed "Christmas Convoy" was also in a episode of the Simpsons called "Tis' the Fifteenth Season".Sapwood - Brentwood, Tn
I'm suprised that the only comment made about the slang this song has was about the "Microbus" I bothered my dad (he was a trucker) for years as to what "Swindle Sheets" areBobbie - Central, Nm
It took me a while to find out what a chartreuse microbus was. It turns out that chartreuse is teh color and it is a VW microbus.Mike - Winnipeg, Canada
Convoy was the definitive song of the CB Radio craze. Ain't it a beautiful sight?Howard - St. Louis Park, Mn
Wasn't a Christmas version of this song released the same year, or a year or two later?Patrick - Conyers, Ga
I operate a website based for the 1978 movie Convoy at www.convoytm.comDavid - Exeter, Pa
I wrote an entire article about this song and the CB craze. It's called "Citizen's Banditry" and is at http://wesclark.com/am/cb.htmlWes - Springfield, Va
A parody of this song, entitled "Convoy GB", was a hit by Laurie Lingo and the Dipsticks (alias Dave Lee Travis and Paul Burnett from Radio 1).Keith Major - Bristol, England
Chip Davis was the primary musical talent involved in "Convoy" and he would take his proceeds from the song to found the American Gramophone label and launch his new age/classical group Mannheim Steamroller which has released many albums.Mark - Falls Church, Va
yes i thought i heard someelse sing convoy and wondered if anyone knew who it was.Shane - Jeromesville, Oh
A take-off of this song called "Car Phone" was done in 1990 by Sheeler & Sheeler and can be found on the Dr. Demento 25th Anniversary album.Eddie - Acton, Me
This was featured on an episode of the Simpsons. The episode is called "Radio Bart".Joe - West Creek, Nj
This is a fun song that I always enjoy listening to. You may need a CB radio dictionary to fully understand it, though.David - Cleveland, Or