David Allan Coe’s Trucker Tune

David Allan Coe, intriguingly, merits four full paragraphs in Neil A. Hamilton’s history of The 1970s:

“Born in Ohio, Coe spent part of his youth in reform school and, in the 1960s, served time in the Ohio State Penitentiary.  Here was a man to whom the term outlaw meant more than a music rebel.  In 1967, Coe arrived in Nashville, and to gain attention from the country music establishment, he lived in a hearse that was parked in front of the Ryman Auditorium, the home of the Grand Old Opry.  Even though the country traditionalists ignored him, he soon signed a contract with an independent label, Plantation Records, and released an album in 1968.

Coe began to perform in a rhinestone suit and sometimes wore a Lone Ranger mask or covered his face in heavy makeup.  He called himself the Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy.  He hung out with motorcycle gangs and would sometimes begin his concerts by driving a Harley onto the stage with a wrench tucked under his belt before singing.  He dared anyone who thought him less than tough, told reporters that he had killed a man while in the penitentiary, and laced his commentary on stage and in print with expletives.   His long hair and tattooed body completed his outlaw persona.”

Photo courtesy of DavidAllanCoe.com

David Allan Coe - hearseDid Coe’s pal in the penitentiary – the musically macabre, Screaming Jay Hawkins – inspire the use of the hearse?

Produced by Pete Drake

David Allan Coe 45-bTwo 45s from 1973 — “Keep Those Big Wheels Hummin‘” b/w “Memphis in My Blood” and “How High’s the Watergate Martha” b/w “Tricky Dicky the Only Son of Kung Fu” — would be David Allan Coe’s final singles on Plantation before making the big jump to almighty Columbia.

“Keep Those Big Wheels Hummin'”     David Allan Coe     1973

Moon vs. Coe:  Cheek-to-Cheek

In 1977 Plantation would issue one final David Allan Coe album that would successfully out-moon Keith Moon’s solo album two years before:

               Moon’s 1975 LP                                Coe’s ‘Texas Moon’ LP from 1977

Moon LP-aMoon LP-b

Sleepy’s “Asphalt Cowboy”: First & Best Version

Don’t be misled by the German 7-inch soundtrack companion whose A-side bears the dual title, “Midnight Cowboy-Asphalt Cowboy” — Ferrante & Teicher did not, in fact, release an early version of the truck-driving country classic, “Asphalt Cowboy” in 1969.

Asphalt Cowboy German 45Sleepy LaBeef, in truth, recorded the first – and greatest – version of “Asphalt Cowboy” in Nashville at summer’s zenith (i.e., July 31) as a new decade (1970) dawned:

“Asphalt Cowboy”     Sleepy Labeef     1970

Produced by Shelby Singleton and recorded at Singleton Sound Studio in Nashville with the following musicians:   Jerry Shook [guitar]; Chip Young [rhythm guitar]; Stevie Singleton [guitar]; Bob Moore [bass]; Kenneth Buttrey [drums]; & Hargus Robbins [piano].

Asphalt Cowboy 45

“Asphalt Cowboy,” co-written by Lawton Williams, who hit the charts back in 1964 with his vocal tune, “Everything’s OK on LBJ,” was also recorded by Rod Hart and used as the B-side for novelty trucker tune, “C.B. Savage.”

Mr. LaBeef stormed through the Nation’s Capitol just this past week in preparation for a series of dates up the East Coast to follow in early September.

Veteran DC musicians, Darryl Davis & Jack O’Dell, with Sleepy LaBeef in Annapolis

Sleepy LaBeef - MD July 2014

“Cajun Interstate”: Cajun-Built

Thanks to the bibliographic notes in 2003’s The Cajuns:  Americanization of a People by Shane K. Bernard, I was able to affirm that “Cajun Interstate” by Rod Bernard is, indeed, about the building of the highway that traverses the bottom of Louisiana – Interstate 10:

Atchafalaya Basin Bridge

Atchafalaya Basin Bridge

As Shane K. Bernard writes:

“South Louisianians were fascinated by the construction of I-10, particularly an eighteen-mile section known as the “Atchafalaya Expressway” [which opened in 1973].  The monumental elevated causeway cut directly through the Atchafalaya Basin, a vast, snake-infested wetlands that to many symbolized South Louisiana’s cultural isolation.

‘They said it couldn’t be done — building a highway over the swamps,’ mused a journalist.  The engineering feat so impressed one South Louisiana musician that he composed ‘Cajun Interstate,’ a rock ‘n’ roll paean to the structure that also manifested a growing grassroots ethnic pride movement.”

Here comes the superhighway,

That superhighway boss,

But it’s gonna take a Cajun crew

To get that road across…

Fifty mile of concrete,

Fifty miles of steel,

Louisiana sunshine,

Shining down on me.

Mama make a gumbo.

Tonight we’ll celebrate

And sing about your Cajun boy

That build that interstate.

Released on Shelby Singleton’s SSS International label in December 1970 — backed with “A Tear in a Lady’s Eyes.”  Both tunes were written by Rod Bernard (who, earlier in his career, helped pioneer a musical mix of New Orleans rhythm & blues, country, Cajun and black creole known as “swamp pop“), along with “E. Futch” — birth name of country singer/songwriter, Eddy Raven, who would later write a song also voicing praise for the Cajun work ethic, “Alligator Bayou,” on which he sang, “Working on a board road running through the swamp for a dollar and a half an hour / A Cajun man with a love for life and a whole lot of muscle power.”

Cajun Interstate 45

Thanks to Shane K. Bernard, who provided the back story on Eddy Raven (above) as well as the tip to Rod Bernard’s 1964 labor lament of working for the “Boss Man’s Son” – featuring the backing of Johnny and Edgar Winter:

“Understand Your Man”: Jimmy Dempsey Picks on Johnny Cash

Guitarist “Little” Jimmy Dempsey uses twin guitars to transform Johnny Cash’s “Understand Your Man” into a tuneful instrumental that bears little resemblance to the original – in a good way:

Understand Your Man – Little Jimmy Dempsey

[Pssst:  Click the triangle above to play “Understand Your Man” by Little Jimmy Dempsey.]

This track can be found on 1970’s Little Jimmy Dempsey Picks on Johnny Cash, the first of four albums for Shelby Singleton’s Plantation Records.

Little Jimmy Dempsey LP

“Wave Bye Bye to the Man”: Good Riddance to Bad Man

Lynn Anderson’s ‘hard country’ take on “Wave Bye Bye to the Man” – a mother and child’s declaration of independence from a bad dad – provides a musical punch that perfectly matches the lyric:

Interesting to hear Lawanda Lindsey’s version of the song from the previous year (1968) and notice how the flute part takes some of the edge off the song.  As lovely as it sounds, the flute, unfortunately, is no match for the twin guitars that kick off Lynn Anderson’s driving version. Oddly, “Wave Bye Bye to the Man” ended up as a B-side to “Our House is Not a Home” (unless, inspired by The Beatles’ example, this was intended as a double-A side).

Anderson recorded for the Chart label for four years beginning in 1966, until she got a record deal with almighty Columbia in 1970.  “Wave Bye Bye to the Man,” however, is notable for its renegade sound and darkly humorous sensibility that is very much in keeping with what Shelby Singleton and Plantation Records were putting out at the same time.  Song included on 1970’s Uptown Country Girl  (Lynn would go on to release two more albums that year, having also released three albums the previous year).

Lynn Anderson LP“Wave Bye Bye to the Man” – Music and lyrics by Betty Jo Gibson and Buck Lindsay.

“Proud Woman”: Unrequited Love’s Soulful Side

Shelby Singleton was someone who dared to be a little different from the rest of what Nashville was turning out in the late 60s and early 70s.  Singleton’s Plantation Records label enjoyed a great reputation for offbeat, funny tunes and wry social commentary, including early efforts by David Allan Coe, as well as Jimmie Dale Gilmore & the Flatlanders, whose 1973 debut recording was – intriguingly – released solely on 8-track.

Johnny Adams joined forces with Singleton in 1968 and, over the course of 3 years, proceeded to release a string of 11 singles on Shelby’s SSS International label, as well as one album, Heart & Soul, that included some great songs – such as this 1969 A-side single release, “Proud Woman“:

“Proud Woman”     Johnny Adams     1969

According to the indispensable Both Sides Now Publications website:

In 1968, Singleton signed Johnny Adams, a soul singer with a remarkable voice. Adams had had a minor hit for the New Orleans-based RIC label in 1962 (“A Losing Battle” [6/62, #27 R&B]), but had been having trouble getting on the national charts since. A New Orleans native, Adams had started out as a gospel singer, but eventually brought his voice and soaring falsetto to secular music, first with RIC and then with Wardell Quezergue’s Watch label. It was for Watch that he recorded a country song, “Release Me,” but it had little success until he signed with Singleton and reissued it on the SSS International label [SSS International 750]. This time, it reached #34 R&B and #82 pop when issued at the end of 1968.  For a followup, he tried another country song, “Reconsider Me” [SSS International 770], with Shelby Singleton producing and Adams going through an amazing vocal workout which reached #8 R&B and #28 pop. It proved to be Adams’ biggest hit. Two more minor hits followed, after which Adams left the label, only to fall into relative national obscurity again.  At home in New Orleans, he performed for years at clubs until his death in 1998 in Baton Rouge.

 

Johnny Adams - Heart & SoulThanks to the equally indispensable Soulful Kinda Music online discography for the following info about Johnny Adams’ SSS singles output – interesting to see that the B-side of “Proud Woman” ended up being the A-side of his next single:

SSS International 750 – Release Me / You Made A New Man Out Of Me – 1968
SSS International 770 – Reconsider Me / If I Could See You One More Time – 1969
SSS International 780 – I Can’t be All Bad /   In A Moment Of Weakness – 1969
SSS International 787 – Proud Woman / Real Live Livin’ Hurtin’ Man – 1969
SSS International 797 – Real Live Hurtin’ Man / Georgia Morning Dew – 1970
SSS International 809 – I Won’t Cry / I Want To Walk Through This Life w/ You – 1970
SSS International 831 – South Side Of Soul Street / Something Worth Leaving – 1970
SSS International 865 – Too Much Pride / I Don’t Worry Myself – 1971
SSS International 867 – Kiss The Hurt Away / Something Worth Leaving For – 71
SSS International 870 – Born To Love You / You’re A Bad Habit Baby – 1971
SSS International 873 – Just Call Me Darling / How Can I Prove I Love You – 1971