I come from a long line of truckers. My daddy, Ken Roark, was a trucker. So was my grandpa, Chester Padgett. My Uncle Big Jim Smith was one, too. As a child, I thought climbing up into an eighteen-wheeler cab was more fun than climbing on a swing set. And I cannot recall a time when I didn’t know how to use a CB radio, didn’t know how to check the oil in a vehicle, or didn’t know the lyrics to C.W. McCall’s 1975 hit Convoy.
If I had to come up with a desert island list of favorite honky-tonk, truck-driving music makers, I’d put Jerry Reed, Johnny Paycheck, Boxcar Willie and Ray Stevens in second, third, fourth and fifth place, leaving the number one spot to C.W. McCall for his lengthy trucking narrative Convoy. Now, if William Faulkner had been alive in 1975 when Convoy was released, I think he would have been ten shades of jealous of McCall for such a fine telling of the heroic deeds of Rubber Duck, Pig Pen and Sodbuster (and about 85 other truckers). The song starts dramatically with a CB conversation between truckers Rubber Duck and Pig Pen, a conversation in which we discover that they, mercy sakes alive, have got themselves a convoy…
CB conversation: Ah, breaker one-nine, this here’s the Rubber Duck. You gotta copy on me, Pig Pen, cmon? Ah, yeah, 10-4, Pig Pen, fer shure, fer shure. By golly, it’s clean clear to Flag Town, cmon. Yeah, that big 10-4 there, Pig Pen, yeah, we definitely got the front door, good buddy. Mercy sakes alive, looks like we got us a convoy...
It was the dark of the moon on the sixth of JuneAnd a Kenworth pullin' logsCab-over Pete with a reefer onAnd a Jimmy haulin' hogsWe's headin' for bear on Eye-one-O'bout a mile outta ShakeytownI says "Pig Pen, this here's Rubber Duck""And I'm about to put the hammer down"
('Cause we got a little ole convoy rockin' thru the night.Yeah, we got a little ole convoy, ain't she a beautiful sight?Come on and join our convoy, ain't nothin' gonna get in our wayWe gonna roll this truckin' convoy 'cross the USA…Convoy)
CB conversation: Ah, breaker, Pig Pen, this here’s The Duck. And, you wanna back off them hogs? Yeah, 10-4, bout five mile or so. Ten, roger. Them hogs is gettin in-tense up here.
By the time we got into Tulsa-townWe had 85 trucks in allBut there's a roadblock up on the cloverleafAnd them bears 's wall-to-wallYeah, them smokeys 's thick as bugs on a bumperThey even had a bear in the airI says "Callin' all trucks, this here's The Duck""We about to go a-huntin' bear"
('Cause we got a great big convoy rockin' thru the night.Yeah, we got a great big convoy, ain't she a beautiful sight?Come on and join our convoy, ain't nothin' gonna get in our wayWe gonna roll this truckin' convoy 'cross the USA…Convoy)
CB conversation: Ah, you wanna give me a 10-9 on that, Pig Pen? Negatory, Pig Pen; you’re still too close. Yeah, them hogs is startin to close up my sinuses. Mercy sakes, you better back off another ten.
Well, we rolled up Interstate Forty-FourLike a rocket-sled on railsWe tore up all of our swindle sheetsAnd left 'em settin' on the scalesBy the time we hit that "Chi-town"Them bears was a-gettin smartThey brought up some reinforcementsFrom the "Illinois" National Guard
There's armored cars and tanks and jeeps'n' rigs of ev'ry sizeYeah, them chicken coops was full of bearsAnd choppers filled the skiesWell, we shot the line, we went for brokeWith a thousand screamin' trucksAnd eleven long-haired friends of JesusIn a chartreuse microbus
CB conversation: Ah, Rubber Duck to Sodbuster, come over. Yeah, 10-4, Sodbuster? Lissen, you wanna put that micra-bus right behind that suicide jockey? Yeah, he’s haulin dynamite, and he needs all the help he can get.
Well, we laid a strip for the Jersey ShorePrepared to cross the lineI could see the bridge was lined with bearsBut I didn't have a doggone dimeI says "Pigpen, this here's the Rubber Duck""We just ain't a-gonna pay no toll"So we crashed the gate doin' ninety-eightI says "let them truckers roll, ten-four"
('Cause we got a mighty convoy rockin' thru the night.Yeah, we got a mighty convoy, ain't she a beautiful sight?Come on and join our convoy, ain't nothin' gonna get in our way)
We gonna roll this truckin' convoy 'cross the USA…Convoy )CB conversation: Ah, 10-4, Pig Pen, what’s your twenty? Omaha? Well, they oughta know what to do with them hogs out there fer shure. Well, mercy sakes, good buddy, we gonna back on outta here, so keep the bugs off your glass and the bears off your tail. Well catch you on the flip-flop. This here’s the Rubber Duck on the side. We gone. Bye,bye.
Now, is that not pure trucking poetry? And am I the only one out there who gets chills when Rubber Duck says to Pig Pen, “Pigpen, this here's the Rubber Duck, we just ain't a-gonna pay no toll” and they “crashed the gate doin’ ninety-eight” and he says, “Let them truckers roll, ten-four?”