The Legend-News

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Saturday, 24 April 2004 : Volume 7, Number 2

Over The Hill And Through The Woods

I hit a milestone three weeks back, but don't worry, there's nothing damaged except my ego.

Although I've been telling my friends since who-knows-when that they should ignore any impending natal anniversary (that's "birthday", if you just thought "Wha?") that I may be experiencing, I must note that I am now fifty years of age. Yes, that's in Earth years.

I'm already seeing the changes that accompany such an event. My car insurance company just sent to me a check for $17.38, for "age adjustment"; I've received an invitiation to join AARP; and my wife calls me "sir". Just kidding about that last statement; my wife has never called me "sir". She has called me many things, but that's not one of them.

I've sent in my check to AARP, because I figure that a discount or two might be worthwhile; when you're non-permanently employed, you tend to view coupons in a brand new light. I'm starting to read the sale flyers now.

I already have a cane, although I don't need it, yet. And strangely, every time that I drive past the local Old Country Buffet, a feel a force pulling me towards it.

But there's hope for me. I never liked Matlock, and whenever I saw an episode of Diagnosis: Murder I was disappointed when Rob Petrie didn't trip over an ottoman. And I can still resist the urge to begin every complaint with "when I was boy…"

And I still have my own teeth. Well, except for the two with crowns. And the other that was extracted when I was ten, but that's another story.

Administrivia

We've been planning to start an HTML version of The Legend-News, but technical difficulties have delayed its launch. Stay tuned.

The Motion Picture CONVOY Returns To The Big Screen

At this moment, David Frederick is wishing that he could afford a round-trip ticket to Los Angeles and a room at a decent hotel, because his favorite movie will be again projected on a big screen. Yes, CONVOY will be shown at The Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, as part of a eleven-day retrospective of the films that were directed by Sam Peckinpah. CONVOY was Peckinpah's second-to-last film, the last one being The Osterman Weekend, 1983.

CONVOY will be presented at on 15 May, as the second film of a double feature which begins with The Getaway at 8:45 PM PDT. The Egyptian Theatre is located at 6712 Hollywood Boulevard, in Hollywood, California.

The complete schedule of the Peckinpah movies can be found on the website of the theatre.

Convoy 2005

Yes, the coast-to-coast trip of 2000 is coming back. Once again, we're planning to drive from the Left Coast to the Right Coast, passing through a few places in-between.

Convoy 2005 will not be, we hope, the hell-bent-for-Jersey, pedal-to-the-metal, boy-do-I-need-sleep pavement-fest that we endured in June 2000. We're thinking about traveling just a little bit slower, and maybe actually stopping during the daylight hours.

Discuss Convoy 2005 in Other Wild Places, the online forum for C.W. McCall fans. Make suggestions, and we'll make plans.

Yet Another Interview With C.W. McCall

In the summer of 2003, Rod Flory asked me a question that I hear often: "How can I get an interview with C.W. McCall?" Well, I told him how to contact Bill, and the result was a live telephone interview that occured on August 23, 2003, during the Classic Heartland radio show on KCSN, 88.5 FM, Los Angeles. Classic Heartland usually plays an eclectic mix of both kinds of music, country and western, but that day's show was a "Truckin' Special", and Bill Fries was the special guest. George Fair — the host of Classic Heartland — and Rod took a look back at the beginning of C.W. McCall, and where he is now.

The transcript which follows is not completely verbatim: I've removed many of the verbal ticks and repetitions that often occur during live interviews — but don't worry, you're not missing anything important.

This is part one of the interview. The transcript will continue in future issues of The Legend-News.

GEORGE: There's nothing more of a signature combination of truckin' music and music from C.W. McCall, and we're so excited right now to have — live on the phone — the gentleman we know as "C.W. McCall". Rod?

ROD: Yep, we know him as C.W. McCall, but actually his name is Bill Fries [pronounced "freeze"], and Bill was an advertising man in Nebraska. You want to tell us a little of how "C.W. McCall" came to be?

GEORGE: Welcome to Classic Heartland on KCSN. Thank you for joining us today. How you doin'?

BILL: Oh, pretty good. You know, I probably been on the phone all afternoon. My son over in Boulder has one of these Colorado / West Nile things going on. So that may be why you couldn't get ahold of me. But I'm here anyway, 10-4.

GEORGE: What part of Colorado are you livin' in right now?

BILL: We're in the southwestern part of the state in the little town of Ouray, Colorado, which is up about eight thousand feet up in the San Juan Mountains. And it's raining here today, and well, it's been raining all of August here.

GEORGE: A lot of thunderstorms goin' on there.

BILL: Yeah, right.

GEORGE: A little afternoon and evening thunderstorms. They try to happen here [Los Angeles], but they can't quite.

ROD: Anyway, Bill, this is Rod…

BILL: Hi, Rod!

ROD: I'm the one that contacted you with e-mail.

BILL: Right.

ROD: Anyway, what I wanted to do was have you tell these people you were an ad man in Nebraska, and…

BILL: Many, many years ago.

ROD: …you created this advertising campaign for Old Home Bread, right?

BILL: That's right, and you know, I really created the character of the truck driver called "C.W. McCall". Actually, my name is Bill Fries, but you know I wound up doing the voice-over myself and so I suddenly found myself in another whole career. And it just took off over the Midwest and one thing lead to another and pretty soon my voice got out to Jimmy Bowen at MGM Records over in Nashville, and he called up and said "Would you like to make a record of that for MGM?" And I said "Well, why not?" And so that just started me off on a whole 'nother direction. I've been doing it ever since. I did my five-year contract with MGM Records and along in the middle of that thing came along a song that I wrote called "Convoy". To date, I guess that thing has sold somewhere around thirty million copies now. It was amazing, I never expected that sort of thing to happen, but I guess we struck a nerve. It's become sort of the trucker's national anthem, if you will.

ROD: And, let's see, your band…

BILL: Oh, yeah, Mannheim Steamroller. Well, you know, back in those days, around '75 or so, we called 'em "The Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant". They were the same guys, Chip Davis and Jackson Berkey on the keyboards, and Chip was playing drums. They were the same band that we took out on the road when we went out and did "Convoy" all over the country.

ROD: Now is that the same band that did this newest release, you just had that release in May of this year.

BILL: That's right, around Memorial Day it came out.

ROD: Mannheim Steamroller and C.W. McCall, American Spirit. We did play "Wolf Creek Pass" and "Convoy" off of there.

BILL: We remastered those things in digital form. Of course, they were the old analog recordings, so we got all the players back together again and did it all over again in digital form. And so that was our new release, plus a couple of other things that I wrote for that album.

ROD: And I notice that it's on the American Gramaphone label, where all the Mannheim Steamroller releases are released on, there.

BILL: That's right. And Chip there, after the 80s he became very famous for his Christmas recordings: "Silent Night" and all those great carols and everything done by the Mannheim Steamroller, and they became very famous.

More in the next issue…

Classic Heartland is no longer on KCSN, but you can listen to it on the Web.

Old Home Café

Episode XXX: A Lifetime Ago

The door chime chimed, as it did, and Mike Cassidy boomed into the Old Home Café. "Jonny, my boy!" he shouted as he entered, attracting the attention of everyone in the Café that morning, and especially the attention of Jon Bach.

"Hi, Mike! Haven't seen yet for a while. Did your run get changed?" asked Jon.

"Yeah," said Mike, removing his CAT cap and scratching his head. Jon noted that Mike's hair was still red, even if there was less hair now than when he last saw him. "Been spending too much time in Minnesota. This is my first trip south of Sioux since last summer." Mike eased onto a stool at the counter. "Coffee, Jonny, and make it a big one."

"Coming up," said Jon. He poured the brew into a cup that the drivers were calling a "tanker": twenty-four fluid ounce capacity, and stainless steel. "Anything new in life?" asked Jon.

"Just one thing," said Mike. He lowered his voice. "Does the term 'peacock station' mean anything to you?"

Jon froze for a moment. He hadn't heard that phrase in a long time.

To be continued…


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