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The year was 1973. The Vietnam War was winding down and American POWs were finally coming home. President Nixon was inaugurated for a second term and subsequently impeached as the Watergate scandal began to unfold, Billie Jean King soundly trounced Bobby Riggs in tennis's "Battle of the Sexes," and the hippie movement was in full swing. It was around this time, while he was in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, that Charlie Daniels formed the idea for this song. He told us this story: "I used to do a little bit of record producing. I used to produce a group called the Youngbloods that were headquartered at San Francisco. And we were doing a live album, and we did part of it at the Fillmore East and West, and we did part of what used to be called a Rock festival, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It was one of those big three-day affairs where everybody in the world played. And that day I think it was the Youngbloods and the Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Airplane, and I don't know who else.
And all these people were there at the motel. And they were these long-haired hippie-type people. The movie 'Easy Rider' had not been out very long, and here we were sitting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with all these long-haired people, and I think a lot of them had the impression that if they were to get 2 blocks away, that somebody was going to run out with a pair of shears and cut their hair and threaten their life. I was born in the South, and to me this attitude was just kind of funny, and that's where the idea came from. I just took a guy and put him in a fictitious situation, and extricated him. But of course there's no truth to it other than just being around people that kind of had a fear of redneck bars."
Daniels says the line in the song, "I just reached out and kicked ole Green Teeth right in the knee," was inspired by a guy he knew who actually did have green teeth. Laughing, he says, "He had tartar on his teeth, and they actually turn green if they don't get it off. I don't think he practiced very good dental hygiene. And that's where that came from; he had little spots of green on his teeth." Daniels did not, however, kick him. "Maybe I should have," he says, "but I didn't kick him." (Check out our interview with Charlie Daniels
Easy Rider is a 1969 film starring Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda as two peace-loving buddies on the road to spiritual enlightenment who find intolerance and violence instead. It's a movie that has been parodied in many, many ways, and even just the title has become a piece of American culture.
Written solely by Daniels, this was the first hit for the band. Chart arbiter Billboard magazine gave it the somewhat derisive "Novelty" label in their listing of the song.
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