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Monday, 2000 November 13 : Volume 3, Number 40

What We Got Here

November 15th's coming up, so what else could we possibly have in this issue?


Now I Was Born In A Town Called Audubon

William D. Fries, Jr. was born on 15 November 1928 and grew up during The Great Depression, which meant a lot more back then than it does now. And although Bill did move to the "big city" of Omaha, he didn't forget his roots. As an advertising executive with Bozell-Jacobs, he created a campaign for Metz Baking's Old Home Bread, a campaign that would eventually bring Bill to a place that few people ever reach: the Number One position on a Billboard music chart.

Except Bill wasn't a rock star, you see. He was a poet who got his words put to music, and that music was written by Chip Davis. Together, Bill and Chip proved that the way to pave a path is by not following the crowd. Bill's words were based on his life and experiences; Chip's music was country, but with a sound that no one had heard before. The critics pigeon-holed it as "Bakersfield sound", but it really wasn't. Yeah, there was an orchestra is there, but who ever played horns on a country song?

Bill and Chip took the character of "C.W. McCall" from a series of regional television commercials to nationwide tours, spawning the so-called "CB craze" of the mid-1970s. Like most musical acts, the flame of popularity flared only briefly before "C.W. McCall" retired, Bill to Ouray, Colorado and Chip back to Omaha and Mannheim Steamroller.

But unlike most musical acts, the works of "C.W. McCall" haven't disappeared with time. Although the original vinyl LPs and cassette tapes and 8-track tapes are hard to find, two audio CD collections of his greatest hits are still available. And every once in a while another writer tries his hand at a parody of C.W.'s greatest hit, "Convoy".

Bill is a poet, and his words have as much impact today as they did 25 years ago; his mountain vistas, outdoor exploration, and cautionary tales will remain with us for a very long time.

To Bill, from the thousands of fans that he's never met, Happy Birthday.


Song A’ Th’ Week

Yeah, this was the Song about three months back, but when 15 November rolls around, it's the only song that's appropriate.

Now you go west on I-80 (or east, take your pick) until you get to a point about 70 miles east of Omaha. Look for the U.S. 71 sign, and turn north. Go 16 miles, find a place to park, and walk around. No, you won't find Bill, but you'll find some of his inspiration.

Audubon
(C.W. McCall, Bill Fries, Chip Davis)
From the album Rubber Duck

Well, I was born in a town called Audubon
Southwest Iowa, right where it oughta been

Twenty-three houses, fourteen saloons,
And a feed mill in nineteen-thirty.
Had a neon sign, said "Squealer Feeds"
And the bus came through when they felt the need
And they stopped at a place there in town called The Old Home Café

Now my daddy was a music lovin' man
He stood six-foot-seven, had big ol' hands
He'd lost two fingers in a chainsaw but he could still play the violin
And Mom played piana, just the keys in the middle
And Dad played a storm on his three-fingered fiddle
'Cause that's all there was to do back there folks, except ta go downtown and watch haircuts

So I was raised on Dust Bowl tunes, you see
Had a six-tube radio an' no TV
It was so dog-goned hot I had to wet the bed in the summer just to keep cool.
Yeah, many's a night I'd lay awake
A-waitin' for a distant station break
Just a-settin' and a-wettin' an' a-lettin' that radio fry.

Well, I listened to Nashville and Tulsa and Dallas
And Oklahoma City gave my ear a callus
And I'll never forget them announcers at three A.M.
They'd come on an' say "Friends, there's many a soul who needs us
"So send them letters an' cards ta Jesus
"That's J-E-S-U-S friends, in care a' Del Rio, Texas."

But the place I remember, on the edge a' town
Was the place where you really got the hard-core sound
Yeah, a place where the truckers used ta stop on their way to Dees Moins
There was signs all over them windowsills
Like "If the Devil don't get ya, then Roosevelt will"
And "The bank don't sell no beer, and we don't cash no checks."

Now them truckers never talked about nothin' but haulin'
And the four-letter words was really appallin'
They thought them home-town gals was nothin' but toys for their amusement.
Rode Chevys and Macks and big ol' stacks
They's always complainin' 'bout their livers an' backs
But they was fast-livin', strung-out, truck-drivin' son of a guns

Now the gal waitin' tables was really classy
Had a rebuilt motor on a fairly new chassis
And she knew how to handle them truckers; name was Mavis Davis
Yeah, she'd pour 'em a coffee, then she'd bat her eyes
Then she'd listen to 'em tell 'er some big fat lies
Then she'd ask 'em how the wife and kids was, back there in Joplin?

Now Mavis had all of her ducks in a row
Weighed ninety-eight pounds; put on quite a show
Remind ya of a couple a' Cub Scouts tryin' ta set up a Sears, Roebuck pup tent
There's no proposition that she couldn't handle
Next ta her, nothin' could hold a candle
Not a hell of a lot upstairs, but from there on down, Disneyland!

Now the truckers, on the other hand, was really crass
They remind ya of fingernails a-scratchin' on glass
A-stompin' on in, leavin' tracks all over the Montgomery Ward linoleum
Yeah, they'd pound them counters and kick them stools
They's always pickin' fights with the local fools
But one look at Mavis, and they'd turn into a bunch a' tomcats

Well, I'll never forget them days gone by
I's just a kid, 'bout four foot high
But I never forgot that lesson an' pickin' and singin', the country way
Yeah, them walkin', talkin' truck stop blues
Came back ta life in seventy-two
As "The Old Home Filler-up An' Keep On A-Truckin' Café"

Oh, the Old Home Filler-up An' Keep On A-Truckin'
Oh, the Old Home Filler-up An' Keep On A-Truckin'
Oh, the Old Home Filler-up An' Keep On A-Truckin' Café
Oh, the Old Home Filler-up An' Keep On A-Truckin'
Oh, the Old Home Filler-up An' Keep On A-Truckin'
Oh, the Old Home Filler-up An' Keep On A-Truckin' Café


"Audubon" can be found on the album The Best of C.W. McCall.


The Legend-News is Copyright 2000 TechRen Enterprises. Reading this fine print has made you a better person. Thanks to Bill Fries and Chip Davis for the words and music.