Tuesday, February 3, 2015


Jukeboxes and country music seem to fit together like hats 'n' boots, cowboy that is, and the repertoire is full of odes to the loose change plunged into every truck stop Rock-ola. On my side of the sea, there has been a slightly perverse relation with this genre generally, there always being a hardcore of, usually, elderly line-dancers, dressing for Texas whilst dancing in Teeside. These are the fans of what I call "and western" and are probably best avoided. However, there has always been a healthy appetite for a more straight ahead country. Or country rock, if you will, and I was drawn into this brotherhood in my mid-teens. This is decades before alt.country or americana and within this fiercely partisan crowd, Sweetheart era Byrds were the Beatles, with the Flying Burrito Brothers being, clearly, with the Keef'n'Gram bond, the Stones. (Think of Gram being in both bands as like the Stones first UK hit being by Lennon-McCartney, as it was! OK, and Hillman, and Clarke, but you get my point.) New Riders of the Purple Sage, I suppose, fitted those outre types maybe drawn to the Kinks, whilst the out and out weirdos gravitated to Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen. I loved 'em all, and still do, but my heart was with the last, my affection for whom I have previously drawn in these pages. And, boy, did they know truckstops!

         "Well I stopped at a road house in Texas a little place called Hamburger Dan's
         Heard that old jukebox start playing tune called the Truck Drivin' Man
         The waitress then brought me up some coffee
         I thanked her then called her back again
         I said that old song sure does fit me cause I'm a truck drivin' man
         Pour me another cup of coffee for it is the best in the land
         I put a nickel in the jukebox and play the Truck Drivin' Man"

This is the song, and it's an old one, written by a Terry Fell in 1954, though it was the 1965 version by Fells then band member, Buck Owens, that first hit a wider audience, albeit with a quarter than a nickel. But it was on the Airmen's 2nd, the fabulously entitled "Hot Licks, Cold Steel and Truckers Favourites" that I first came across it, it being my highlight of the disc, with the later pleasure of seeing them performing live in London cementing my eternal allegiance. What, of course, I had never earlier realised was that Billy C. Farlowe, guitar toting front man, wasn't actually plugged in for anything beyond his top-notch vocals, his red guitar being merely a prop. Mind you, with Bill Kirchen twanging ferociously behind, who could ever be disappointed? It's a straight ahead vers chorus vers chorus song, nothing fancy, but with the astonishing instrumental breaks between each and every refrain, with especial mention, always, to Bobby "Blue" Black on consummate pedal steel. Here it is, from, whisper, near 43 years ago. Gulp.

Buy the LP!

And, by way of a special treat, here is a version by the New Riders, a live on from, gulp again, 1972. At the time of writing both bands, or versions thereof, are still on the road.

Download the track!

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