August 16, 2013

Keep on Truckin'

The Royals' run at a Wild Card is coming to a close. A rash of injuries and trades for additional mediocre middle infielders signal once again that the goal for this year should be (and really, always has been) a .500 record, not a playoff appearance. While this team recently rattled off 17 wins in 20 games, we shouldn't forget that a couple months ago this team also had a stretch in which it lost 22 of 28 games. That's the definition of streaky, and that rarely works out for teams over the course of a 162-game season.

So once again, rather than dwelling on my frustration that the Royals' return to the playoff hunt in truth only served to extend the middling careers of Dayton Moore and Ned Yost, I turn away from baseball to music.

Schroeder knows what's up:
The record I bring you today is a recent purchase, one I'd been trying to find for a very long time. It's a 45 RPM of C.W. McCall's "Pine Tar Wars," in which the Omaha Ad Executive turned Novelty Country Artist waxes poetically about the George Brett Pine Tar incident. The 45 RPM single of the song was pressed in Kansas City around 1984 and has never been released on any other format. I finally got a copy and then spent far too much time figuring out how to rip the vinyl to mp3 so I could share it on the blog.


Truck driver C.W. McCall was a character created in 1974 by William Dale Fries, Jr. to sell bread in commercials for the Metz Baking Company. When the commercials proved popular, MGM approached Fries to ask if they could release the song from the ad, "Old Home Fill'er Up and Keep on Trucking Cafe." When the track reached #10 on the charts, MGM signed Fries, now dubbed C.W. McCall after the commercial character, to a record contract.

His 1975 C.B.-radio-infused "Convoy" is probably his most remembered song because it's in the running for worst single to ever reach #1. From it's awful chorus ("WE GOT A GREAT BIG CONVOY, ROCKING THROUGH THE NIGHT!") to the interludes of C.B. speak ("Breaker One-Nine, this here's the Rubber Duck"), it's an abomination. And unfortunately, it led to more C.B.-radio truck driving hits from both established acts like Red Sovine and cash-in acts like Cledus Maggard and The Citizen's Band. "Convoy" was also turned into a film in 1978 by legendary director/drunk/cokehead Sam Peckinpah, and despite being a pretty big hit and loaded with talent like Kris Kristofferson, Ali MacGraw, and Ernest Borgnine, it was, of course, one of the worst movies ever made.

Despite being known now primarily for "Convoy," McCall was actually quite prolific, releasing six albums and charting twelve singles between 1974 and 1979. He released a few songs here and there in the 80s, including "Pine Tar Wars," but he retired from music and became the mayor of Ouray, Colorado, in 1986. If you're interested in seeing the town of Ouray, check out the opening sequence of the Sylvester Stallone arm-wrestling drama Over the Top. I shit you not.

Let's go back to 1984 and "Pine Tar Wars." While it wasn't a hit, it did get some regional play in the Midwest and occasionally does get played at Kauffman Stadium. My guess as to why it wasn't more popular? Well, it sounds a ton like "Convoy." Just subtract the CB interludes and add some terrible synth-work (hey, it was the 80s), and you've got "Pine Tar Wars." That is to say, it's not a very good song.

Also worth noting: the song repeatedly refers to Yankees Manager Billy Martin as "Tar Baby Billy." While the original meaning of "Tar Baby" is "a sticky situation made worse by action," the term has also been used often as a racial slur against African-Americans, which could help explain why the song has never been re-released.

Press the play button below to listen to "Pine Tar Wars."



And here are the ridiculous lyrics in all their glory, if you'd like to sing/speak along with C.W.:

"Pine Tar Wars"

Well, the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times 
Carried the story in big headlines
How Kansas City George was robbed that day
When Tar Baby Billy took his bat away

It was two men out in the top a' the ninth
It was one a' them classic settins
The Goose on the mound in that Big Apple town
And George is up there battin'

As the crowd chants "Goose!"
He turns it loose
With fire and smoke and ash
George sends it deep
In the right field seats
Another timely crash

As he rounded third and he headed on home
Was a gleam in Billy's eye
Dick wondered "What's he up to now?"
"I know this guy's real sly."

Billy grabbed the bat as both teams sat
In awe upon the benches
Says, "There ya are! That there's pine tar!"
"An' it's a whole lot more'n eighteen inches!"

[Chorus]
Tar Baby Billy can you hear our song?
Did you cry about the game last night?
Cry Baby Billy tell us all what's wrong?
All you wanna do is fight
You like a child, kickin' dirt on the umpire's shoes
That's the way you've always been
So now we're gonna take that pine tar rag
And rub it in your face again

So Tim thought it through, and he asked the crew
Then with bat in hand, he shouted
"You're out! The home run just don't count!"
"I'm gonna have ta disallow it!"

Well, the sky was clear and the day was hot
But George was even hotter
'Til Lee got wise, and said "Hey, you guys!"
"This claim ain't a-gonna hold water."

[Chorus]
Tar Baby Billy can you hear our song?
Did you cry about the game last night?
Cry Baby Billy tell us all what's wrong?
All you wanna do is fight
You like a child, kickin' dirt on the umpire's shoes
That's the way you've always been
So now we're gonna take that pine tar rag
And rub it in your face again

Well, the fans was riled and suits was filed
To create a long delay
Then Billy's team, apparently,
Was just afraid to play

Now the stage was set and Billy bet
That he had the upper hand
But Billy was fooled when the big court ruled
"You gonna play this game, as planned!"

[Chorus]
Well, Tar Baby Billy can you hear our song?
Did you cry about the game last night?
Cry Baby Billy tell us all what's wrong?
All you wanna do is fight
You like a child, kickin' dirt on the umpire's shoes
That's the way you've always been
So now we're gonna take that pine tar rag
And rub it in your face again

With affidavits notarized
That George had touched 'em all
The umpire said, "We a step ahead."
"Gonna put an end to Billy Ball."

We done heard the call for Billy Ball
We ain't never gonna hear it again
Just like the cheer for Billy's Beer
When the Democrats was in.

Now the game they played that summer day
Won't be famous for the scores
But the incidents that have happened since
Will be remembered as Tar Wars

[Chorus]
Tar Baby Billy can you hear our song?
Did you cry about the game last night?
Cry Baby Billy tell us all what's wrong?
All you wanna do is fight
You like a child, kickin' dirt on the umpire's shoes
That's the way you've always been
So now we're gonna take that pine tar rag
And rub it in your face again

---

Well, there you have it. A song done almost ten years after "Convoy," but in the same style. C.W. even references Billy Beer, several years after it had gone out of production. Because of course he does.

We hope you've enjoyed this edition of RWC Royals Record Club. We'll be back soon with more ridiculous Royals novelty songs.

Go CW McCall! At Least You're Better Than The CW Network!



2 comments:

  1. Awesome. Couldn't believe this wasn't on youtube. A few months ago I almost bought one of these 45s off ebay, but you just saved me the trouble.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I couldn't believe it wasn't on YouTube either. Glad I could help bring this awful song to the internet.

      Delete

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