The Legend-News

Monday, 2001 July 16 : Volume 4, Number 15

What We Got Here

Check it twice: Your C.W. McCall To-Do List, detailing the actions that you should accomplish (warning: blatant commercialism ahead); at the Old Home Café, the Wayback Machine takes us to August 1989 and a hint of the future; and the Song A’ Th’ Week is a wet double feature: "Niobrara" and "Nishnabotna".

Your C.W. McCall To-Do List

If you're a C.W. McCall fan (and if you aren't, thank you for reading this anyway), then you are probably determined to accomplish some C.W. McCall related activities, such as

Of course, if you're a real C.W. McCall fan, then you've also decided to

If you're into four-wheeling, don't forget

You say that you're a trucker?

Old Home Café

Although the recording career of C.W. McCall seems to have been brief — at least in the perception of many people, but what do they know? — he released six albums of material in the span of six years, which is far better than the over-hyped Spice Girls ever accomplished. And C.W. McCall had more talent!

After Bill Fries retired as C.W. McCall, he did continue to make an ocassional recording; but the character of C.W. McCall remained out of the spotlight as Bill concentrated on his new job as mayor of Ouray, Colorado. But then, in 1989…

(From the Wednesday, 30 August 1989 edition of the Rocky Mountain News. All misspellings are theirs, or you can blame Associated Press.)

McCall shifting to New Age with Manheim Steamroller

OURAY (AP) — C.W. McCall says he's rolling his convoy again, this time down the road with New Age music.

The 60-year-old country singer, better known in these parts as Ouray Mayor Bill Fries, says he's planning to do his first recording in 15 years this fall.

All his old hits, such as the well-known truckers' anthem Convoy, will be on the new album, but they'll have a new twist.

"It won't be your standard type of recording," Fries said. "It's more like poetry, and there will be a lot of natural sounds in the background."

The album will team the deep-voiced Fries with the group Mannheim Steamroller, one of the best-selling groups in the jazzy, spacey, mostly instrumental music that has come to be known as New Age.

Fries figures it's a natural since Manheim Steamroller, under a different and little-known name and different musical mode, backed him on his original recordings.

Fries was selling advertising in Omaha when he was discovered in the early 1970s, and he rolled to the front of the citizen's band radio craze with his trucker songs.

Other songs concentrated on Colorado's high country with odes to treacherous jeep passes, a narrow-gauge train and the state flower. Ouray is about 30 miles north of Durango.

As mayor Ouray the past four years, Fries hasn't concerned himself with recording contracts or royalties.

Instead, his worries have been territorial battles over the vast hot water reservoir lying under the town, problems of roving deer eating gardens and hassles over keeping llamas in town.

He has continued to sell and give away his voice by recording commercials, highway safety tapes, local tourist promotions and Ouray's popular video presentation of the "San Juan Odyssey," which he introduces with a song or two every night during the summer.

"This album will give me one more shot of adrenalin," he said. "Then I'm going to sit back and have some fun."

Song A’ Th’ Week

Whenever I'm traveling across the country, or even in McHenry County, I'm like most drivers: unless I see a large sign that proclaims "There's A River/Creek Here", I don't notice when I'm crossing one. Even Wood Creek, which borders the east side of my property, isn't noticeable from the road which crosses over it unless you know that the creek is there.

But back in the pre-highway days of the United States, crossing any body of water was a challenge because bridges were rarely encountered outside the borders of towns and cities. Rivers were the highways of the West; and they're still important — witness the arguments over the water rights to the Colorado River — even if we don't notice them.

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

Come ride with me cowboys
I'll tell you a story
Out where the whoopin' cranes fly
I'll show you the white bones
Of giants in sandstone
Out where the wind never dies

Niobrara River

Come sit by the campfire
I'll sing you a sad song
Of rivers that never return
Play soft on the mouth-harp
Strum slow on the guitar
And leave all the mem'ries to burn

Roll on, Niobrara
Roll on, Niobrara
Roll on

I'll show you the bright shiny
Ribbon of silver
That flows through the sandhills at dawn
I'll find you the places
Where clear water races
Before all the traces are gone

Roll on, Niobrara
Roll on, Niobrara
Roll on

So pack up the bedroll
And cinch up the saddle
And head for the red mornin' sky
We'll sing one more song for
The wild Niobrara
Out where the wind never dies

Roll on, Niobrara
Roll on, Niobrara

And then, there are those rivers that don't seem to be much of anything at all.

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

One time when I's growin' up — it was when I's a kid — there was nothin' to do at home so I called up on a friend an' said "Let's pack us a box lunch an' go down to the Nishnabotna an' go swimmin'. An' maybe look for some toads."

My friend said he thought that's a good idea 'cause he didn't have nothin' to do either an' he was outta toads.

So we packed up our box lunches an' we started out a-walkin', an' we come to a big iron bridge which was five miles from town where we observed a big sign which says "West Nishnabotna". I says "This here's the place, an', an' now if we could just find some toads an' go for a good swim, we could have fun all day doin' nothin', just loafin' around in the creek."

We jumped into that dirty water an' I thought we might be able to swim in it, but we quickly discovered that we could not even begin to dog-paddle in it. Be, because right where we was, the Nishnabotna was only four-an'-a-half inches deep. So we wound up a-crawlin' along down on all fours in it, through the mud an' beer cans an' yucky things an' old pieces a' cars.

We went past a bunch a' fenders an' a couple a' Plymouth hubcaps, when we come to a place where we thought there might be some toads. When we was surprised by a farmer who told us to get on out of there an' to never come back or he'd call up the sheriff an' have us put into jail for the rest of our natural-born lives with nothin' to eat but bread an' water so we'd starve.

But time passes by real quickly when you're havin' fun, so we ran through the fenders and the mud to the bridge again. But when we got back there we sadly discovered that the sun had been out and our backs was all blistered so bad we had to lay flat on our bellies for two weeks in bed which made us sick to our stomachs an' we didn't care about nothin' anymore.

It just ain't too good for your livers to go swimmin' in that river. You can get cut up pretty bad in there an' there ain't too many toads.

There's nothin' but, There's nothin' but mud in there an' there's all kinds a' crud, an' it's layin' all over the place so you'd better watch out.

If you wanna get sick, just go crawlin' around in that creek. There's a whole lot a' bad things that can happen to you.

No, it ain't, No, it ain't good for your liver to hunt toads in that river. The West Nishnabotna is the creek of my childhood.

The Legend-News is Copyright 2001 TechRen Enterprises. "Mister Unpronounceable is dead! He's dead!" Thanks to Bill Fries and Chip Davis for the words and music.