First released in 1975, this is C. W. McCall's seminal, ground-breaking work, which brought the freedom of the American open road and Citizen's Band radio to Britain. For a few brief years everyone in the UK aspired to a CB radio, with its connotations of freedom, independence, and putting one over on the authorities. 'Convoy' associated the CB radio with lorry drivers, but we could rarely get on the air because it was always full of schoolchildren talking to their friends three doors away, who could actually have opened their bedroom windows and shouted to each other. Once the kids were in bed the airwaves were jammed with middle-aged overweight baldies with handles like 'Rocky' talking to grandmothers with handles like 'Lolita'. Much like Internet chat-rooms, really... It just wasn't the same over here, anyway; They have Interstate 44 - we have the M42...
The Government killed the CB craze in Britain in 1981. They made it legal to own one.
So now, download the record here (convoy.mp3 - about 3.5MB), unwrap a Yorkie, and sing along!
(British visitors - want to know what it all means? Read the Glossary!)
[On the CB]
It was the dark of the moon on the sixth of June
[On the CB]
By the time we got into Tulsa Town,
[On the CB] 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 44
[On the CB]
Well, we laid a strip for the Jersey shore
Convoy! Ah, 10-4, Pig Pen, what's your twenty?
10-4 - 10-codes are widely used in radio transmissions. (Even the British police use them, though the meanings of the various numbers vary from force to force.) 10-4, in this context, is an affirmative response.
10-9 - Repeat last message.
Bear - See 'Smoky Bear'.
Cab-over - Style of lorry where the cab sits directly over the engine, ie there's no bonnet. Nearly all British lorries are 'cab-overs'.
Chi-town - Chicago, Illinois.
Chicken coops - Weigh Stations.
Copy - 'You gotta copy on me?': Are you receiving me?
Flip-flop - 'On the flip-flop': On the return journey.
Front door - To have the front door means to lead a convoy. Not surprisingly, to have the back door (which isn't used in the song) means to bring up the rear.
Hammer - 'Put the hammer down': To put your foot down.
I-one-oh - Interstate 10.
Jimmy - Make of truck (GM - General Motors).
Kenworth - Make of truck.
On the side - Monitoring transmissions, but no longer transmitting.
Pete - Make of truck (Peterbilt).
Reefer - Refrigerated trailer.
Rigs - Vehicles, especially trucks.
Rubber Duck - Decoy. A lone truck which goes ahead of the main convoy to draw police patrols out of hiding.
Smokies - See 'Smoky Bear'.
Smoky Bear - Police. Apparently the US Forestry Service some years ago ran a publicity campaign to encourage people to be careful not to start fires, which involved a large bear in a police-style uniform. The bear was called 'Smoky Bear', and the name started to be applied to the police.
Suicide jockey - Driver hauling a dangerous load.
Twenty - 10-20. Home destination.
Want to know more about C.W. McCall? Go here.