Friday, 18 March 2011

Bare Trucking in Poland

Babcia was away for the week while I was painting walls and ceilings, allowing me to put on a CD and listen to hours of music without interruption. Managing to put the same CD on two days running, it occurred to me that a trucking song by Bobby Bare was particularly appropriate for Poland.

Country music itself has parallels with Poland's Discopolo. Through the seventies and eighties in England, Country was Hick music, despised by most music fans. The US Billboard charts segregated Popular Music (Pop) from black (first Race and then R&B) and white trash (Country) music, allowing just the occasional 'cross-over' acceptable to urban white audiences. The fact that country music routinely outsold Pop (ie was more popular) didn't matter. Telling English people that I liked (some) country music received the same reaction as saying the same to Polish people about Discopolo: derision and disbelief.

This is a 1983 Bobby Bare song called 'Diet song'.

From the same 1983 album, Drinkin' from the Bottle (Singin' from the Heart), came 'Jogger'. Bare is a truck driver, which from a London point of view was a legendary character. However, driving along the international road routes around Poland, I routinely come across long-distance lorry drivers. Living close to several large distribution centres and doing the Warsaw - Northern Italy route by car last summer, have just reinforced an earlier impression.

The trucker is a pretty tolerant guy, happily accepting most others on the road, no matter how strange or obstructive they may be. It would be too much a stretch of imagination for me to think that Polish drivers are generally like this, but tolerating people off the road, no matter how strange, is common.

The other road users in the song are not quite the same, but near enough: Polish loonie speed freaks, livestock transporters, me and other inexplicably slow drivers, pilgrimage hikers, a myriad of motorcyclist personalities. Although I haven't seen many joggers, I would happily substitute Polish pedalists riding their expensive racing bikes, wearing tight-fitting, brightly coloured Tour de France type gear, whilst trundling along as slow as they can, chatting up their boyfriend beside them, and wiggling their bottoms just in front of me. (I think that sets the scene.) Then religion sweeps in: Poland to a tee.

Well, I've been a trucker more than twenty years,
From the Charleston coast to the Jersey piers,
Sharing the road with race car nuts and loggers.

Sunday drivers, scouts on hikes,
Hells Angels on Harley bikes,
I never met a roader I didn't like,
Except them - joggers

One day I'm rolling down 1-0-1.
I got 18 wheels under 14-tons.
Radio playing a good old country rocker.

The day was sure a trucker's dream:
The sky was sunny and the air was clean,
When up ahead on the road I seen
One of them - joggers.

He was dressed like they do in baby blue
With shortie shorts and a headband too.
I yelled "Sweetie I bet that you
Are the hit of the men's room locker.

"But I'm a running late with an overload
So get your Adidas off of this road,
I'm LA bound and I don't slow down for dead raccoons or joggers."

Well without breaking stride or losing poise,
He said, "You and that rig sure make some noise
But I can't talk now because I'm racin' against the clocker.

"But it's just nine miles to Forkers Leap
And if you ain't afraid to race that heap,
We'll see how that old rig holds up, against - a super jogger."

"Race?" I must be hearing wrong.
The boy's been running in the sun too long
The only place he's racing to is a doctor's.

But before I could say, "Thank you, no",
That fool yells "Ready, get set, go"
And the race is on
We're off and gone,
Me and that maniac jogger.

Well I could've left him far behind,
But I played with him like a fish on a line
And I stayed about a half a mile behind that sucker.

Then I pushed her up to 45
And he sees me coming and he starts to fly,
So I pushed her to 60 and shift to high
And finally catch that jogger.
(And it wasn't easy.)

Now I'm doing 80 and I turned to check
And he's staying right with me, neck and neck.
His hearts a thumping like my engine going pop, pop, pocker.

Then he yells out "I hope you're set
Cause I ain't shifted into second yet".
Then he unwinds

And leaves me behind
Eating the dust of a - jogger.

Then I see him jogging up into the sky
And he yells, "Hey! Thanks for the exercise.
I hope that losing this race, was not too shocking.

"You see my Dad says, 'Heaven's no place to run'
And I try to be an obedient son,
So I have to come down to earth
To do my jogging".

Well that's my story. Take it or leave it.
My trucker buddies, they believe it.
So do those race car nuts and Harley hoggers.

And I'm still driving much the same,
Except I don't call nobody names
And I tip my hat each time I pass one of them good old joggers

Hey here comes one now... "Hey, good buddy, How're you doing? Want some gatorade?"

I didn't find Bobby Bare singing the song, but this imitation - pretty awful in itself - will not only give you an idea how it goes, but will also let you copy the guitar chords.

Actually, I first came across country music in the early sixties. I had an old, wind up record player in my bedroom with, I think, four 78s. Little Richard, The Everly Brothers, Larry Williams singing Bony Maronie and an obscure artist called Cliff Carlisle singing the brilliant Seven Years with the Wrong Woman (the B-side) from 1932. A sadly feeble sample of the track is available here.

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