Saturday, April 2, 2022

So Long, Rubber Duck, Keep the Hammer Down

Bill Fries, an advertising executive better known as C.W. McCall, who had hit country records in the 1970s about long-haul truck driving and renegade truck drivers during the height of the citizens band radio craze, died April 1st at his home in Ouray, Colo. He was 93.

Quoting from a Washington Post article by Matt Shudel, the character of C.W. McCall came from Fries (pronounced "Freeze") in a series of commercials for a Midwestern bread company. His best-known song was “Convoy,” which became a #1 country and pop hit in January 1976.

In that song, the name, or “handle,” of the song’s central character, Rubber Duck, chats with another driver, Pig Pen, hauling a load of foul-smelling hogs, which becomes a running joke throughout the song.

"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"

“Convoy helped popularize the lingo that truck drivers used over their citizens band radios," writes Shudel. "People went full tilt into the CB radio craze because of it. The song came along when truckers faced rising fuel costs and a nationwide 55 mph speed limit. While laced with humor, the song also had a rebellious feeling about it and people responded to it."

"Pig Pen, this here's the Rubber Duck and I'm about to put the hammer down!"

"Convoy" sold an estimated 7 million copies and spawned the 1978 film of the same name, starring Kris Kristofferson, Ali MacGraw, Burt Young, Madge Sinclair, Ernest Borgnine and Cassie Yates. During the same period, Burt Reynolds’ “Smokey and the Bandit” movies were box-office hits, and the “outlaw” country music of Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson was gaining popularity.

"Ah, breaker one-nine
This here's the Rubber Duck
You gotta copy on me, Pig Pen, c'mon?
Ah, yeah, 10-4, Pig Pen, fer shure, fer shure
By golly, it's clean clear to Flag Town, c'mon
Yeah, that's a 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"

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