Steamroller

Album: Sweet Baby James (1970)

Songfacts®:

  • This song is a parody of sorts, taking aim at overtly sexual blues metaphors. Taylor has "the steamroller blues" and compares his love machine to a cement mixer, a demolition derby, and even a napalm bomb.

    Taylor came up with the song after seeing lots of white college kids playing blues songs by the likes of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf - he noticed a disconnect there.
  • Taylor wrote this song when he was in a band called The Flying Machine, which issued one single in 1966 before disbanding. One of his Flying Machine bandmates was Danny Kortchmar, who played guitar on the Sweet Baby James album and toured with Taylor.
  • Taylor had a cold when he recorded this song, resulting in a more congested vocal than usual. Recording his track at a later date was not an option, as they were on a tight recording budget and schedule.
  • Sweet Baby James was Taylor's second album, and his first on the Warner Bros. label. His 1968 debut album was issued on Apple Records, which was owned by The Beatles. That album also contains a blues takeoff: "Blues Is Just a Bad Dream."
  • "Steamroller" was never released as a single, but is one of Taylor's most popular live songs, making its way into most of his setlists. He has done different versions over the years, often having some fun with the last verse.
  • Elvis Presley added this song to his live set, and performed it on his 1973 Aloha from Hawaii special. This live version was released as a single (as "Steamroller Blues") and made #17 US.

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