More Than Meets The Mogwai

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Byrds' "Truck Stop Girl" (1970)

I've been obsessively listening to this second track off of the first side of the second LP of The Byrds' notoriously titled "(Untitled)" album (for more info on the notoriety, click here) this week. At first listen, I thought the rather nasally-inflected vocals were handled by usual lead singer/founding father Roger McGuinn -- but that fountain of information, Wikipedia, proves me wrong: it's actually Clarence White, the guitar-playing child prodigy and former one-third of a band of Bluegrass brothers known as The Kentucky Colonels.

White, a member of that ever-shifting Byrds roster in later years, first temporarily joined as a session player on their "Younger Than Yesterday" album (1966), but he wouldn't come into his own or join as a full member until the [legendary singer/songwriter] Gram Parsons era, his guitar-plucking presence most notably felt on the country-twinged "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" album in 1968.

This song, written by Lowell George and Bill Payne of Little Feat, was recorded in 1970. The lyrics are simplistic and tell an uncomplicated narrative of a love spurned, but, I think, it's a well-deserving example of how The Byrds transcended their 12-string Rickenbacher folk-rock roots for a more mellowing, all-encompassing country-flavoured style in the late '60s and early '70s (as much as I like their earlier career-making Dylan covers, it's this period -- with such albums as "The Notorious Byrd Brothers" (1968) and "Dr. Byrds and Mr. Hyde" (1969) -- that I couldn't possibly part with).

It's also particularly haunting to hear White sing the last set of lyrics, as he would be killed in an automobile accident a scant three years later; he was 29.

Here's an Mp3, followed by the lyrics:

His tail lights flickering as he pulled up to the truck-stop
The same old crowd was hanging out again tonight
He said, "fill up my tank while I go check my load."
"It feels like it's shifting all around."

He was the kind of man, do all he could
Above all he had integrity
But he was so young and on a ten city run
In love with a truck stop girl

As he went inside he was merrily greeted
By the girl with whom he was in love
She held out a glass and said, "Have another."
"This is the last time we can meet."

With her hair piled up high and a look in her eye
That would turn any good man's blood to wine
All his eyes could see, all his eyes could see
Was the stares from all those around him

He ran out to the lot and climbed into his rig
And drove off without tightening down
It was a terrible thing to see what remained
Of the rig that poor Danny was in

He was young and on a ten city run
In love with a truck stop girl

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Blogger mishy said...


It was Gram himself who played that crazy organ on HB #1 and #2 at the Avalon shows...

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