Uneasy Rider

Album: Honey In The Rock (1973)
Charted: 9
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • 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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Comments: 8

  • Brian from Minnesota Synopsis of the story in the song.
    A hippie on the way to LA has car problems in the Southern USA. He stops a “redneck” bar expecting the worst. Despite getting immediate help from bartender and local service station owner he characterizes him as a fool.
    He kicks a local in the knee and lies about his politics and character. Then attempts to run them over with his car.

    A true hero to the left.
  • Susan from Atlanta, GeorgiaIn 1986, I was traveling in Virginia up I-81 to I-66 East to DC, and I-66 was still relatively new and unpopulated with roadside accommodations (restaurants, service stations, etc.). Even though I knew this and had stopped on I-81 for everything I needed before getting onto I-66, I still found myself needing to make a stop. I tried two places, both closed, and finally came to a place that looked like the Beverly Hillbillies Go To Mayberry; all that was missing was a hound dog under the bench out front. As a courtesy, I planned to buy something from them after making use of their facility, even though my gas tank was almost full. I opened the door, and rather than being just a service station (as I had thought), it was also the local watering hole, and everyone in the place turned to gawk at the newcomer -- I imagine they didn't get many. I made my way to the facility, where saw a sign on the door that announced, "This is a restroom, not a dressing room", and decided that I didn't want to stay around long enough to find out the story behind that. I got in and got out as quickly as I could and hauled butt out of there, all the while singing this song in my head and alternately laughing and looking over my shoulder (which I did for three days).
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 24th 1973, "Uneasy Rider" by the Charlie Daniels Band entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #84; and on August 5th, 1973 it peaked at #9 (for 3 weeks) and spent 12 weeks on the Top 100...
    Between 1973 and 1982 the band had eight Top 100 records; two made the Top 10 with "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" being their biggest hit, it reached #3 (for 2 weeks) on September 9th, 1979...
    Mr. Daniels will celebrate his 78th birthday this coming October 28th, 2014.
  • Gary from Pageland, ScI'm a musician and a HUGE CDB fan and I have done this song many, many times. Guy from Woodinville, WA is absolutely right! People ask me how I can remember all the words and the answers are 1) I practiced it A LOT before ever doing it in public, but 2) As I sing/talk it I close my eyes and I run the story through my mind like I'm watching a video. Works every time.
  • William from Reno, NvDavid, Rochester....It could very well been a mistake. However, maybe the guy didn't think much of two for the dudes?
    When I was prospecting for a MC club back in the late '70's my sponsor was a little dude but when it came to fighting he didn't start counting until he got to three.

    Granted our "hero" wasn't a biker but the attitude is out there.

    This song is one of my all time favs.

    K/H D
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxThere was a funnier sequel to this called 'Uneasy Rider '88' where he and some friends end up in a gay bar, which isn't exactly where they want to be.
  • David Fowler from Rochester, NhTher is an error in this song. He makes note of "5 big dudes come strollin in
    With one old drunk chick and some fella with green teeth" . Then he mentions that he didn't want to get in a fight "Especially when there was three of them and only one of me" so, there is your trivia.
  • Guy from Woodinville, WaThis is one of the best story songs there is. So funny & entertaining--you can just watch the whole scene play out in your mind. Never get tired of it. I always knew that Charlie Daniels was closer to the people he was parodying than the hippie hero of the story.
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