Menzoid Essay: Convoy!

The other day, The Menzoid was listening to one of those Oldies stations on his car’s electric car. And out of the blue came a former number-one-with-a-bullet hit tune that he hadn’t heard for more than 35 years: “Convoy.” Very soon, memories of a very oddball fad during a decade that spawned numerous goofy crazes came rushing back.

The song “Convoy” begins with a discussion peppered with C.B. radio slang; then the trucker jargon-laced lyrics really shift into overdrive:

Ah yes, “It was the dark of the moon on the sixth of June…”
And no guff, folks – those are indeed the opening verses of a chart-popper from yester-decade.

Granted, hit songs about automotive culture come and go (although, alas, there does seem to be a dearth of car songs these days – but that’s a rant for another time.) Yet, the thing about “Convoy” is that it wasn’t “just” a car song but was also the high-water point of what was surely one of the most inexplicable fads in recent memory: the trucking/C.B. radio craze of the mid-’70s.
Indeed, by way of coincidence, it turns out that it was on this very month back in 1976 that “Convoy” soared to #1 on the Billboard charts. And yes, those who are old enough to remember this tune as well as the various other bizarre manias of this time period (streaking, the Pet Rock, Trudeau the First) are surely asking themselves, “What the hell were we thinking?”
By way of plot, “Convoy” celebrated the exploits of a rebellious trucker with a reckless disregard for highway toll booths and speed limits. The storyline is completely preposterous, of course. For example, at one point the National Guard is brought in to shutdown an ever-growing caravan of big, speeding 18-wheelers. Yet it does have a catchy beat.

As well, “Convoy” gave the gravelly-voiced C.W. McCall his biggest hit song ever. (Although it should be noted that “C.W. McCall” was in reality Bill Fries, an Omaha-based advertising executive, not a trucker.)

Still, as notes, Fries truly had a keen ear for esoteric dialogue. And he certainly had his finger on the pulse of that trucker/C.B. radio fad of the mid-’70s.
In fact, the song “Convoy” actually marked the peak of a trucking/C.B. radio craze that had millions of fan-boys and gals creating “handles” for themselves a la “Rubber Ducky” and lining up to see trucker-themed movies such as Smokey and the Bandit and B.J. and the Bear. (In our defence, there was no such thing as the Internet or the Xbox or even the VCR back then.)

And a true albeit embarrassing confession: in 1976, due to Convoy’s popularity, The Menzoid very nearly drained his bank account in order to buy a C.B. radio. The Menzoid was marooned in Newfoundland at the time. And looking back, The Menzoid has no idea what he would’ve done with a C.B. radio given that he didn’t own a vehicle… or even possess a driver’s licence. But such was indeed the power of that crazy trucker/C.B. fad. And this once-awesome, kick-asphalt song some 37 years ago.

10-4 and you’re welcome, Rubber Duckies…breaker, breaker…


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