The Byrds – Drug Store Truck Driving Man

This song is on the Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde album by the Byrds. The song is decent but the interesting part is the story behind the song. It was written in response to an on-air argument with Ralph Emery, at the time an all-night country DJ on a country radio station. It was written by Roger McGuinn and Gram Parsons.

In 1968 The Byrds were in Nashville promoting their new country album “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” and got a cool reception at the Grand Ole Opry. They got into an argument with Emery on air when he said that “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” wasn’t country and then proceeded to call them long-haired hippies and would not play the record. He also didn’t understand what the song meant and Roger told him that Dylan wrote it…that didn’t help.

Ralph Emery would not budge…It was the 1960s in a very fifties Nashville and Ralph could not get past the hair. It would open up a bit in the early seventies with Outlaw country music by Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and Waylon Jennings.

This is from an interview with Chris Hillman.

“There was the funny story with Ralph Emery, the DJ in Nashville, where he had The Gilded Palace Of Sin tacked on the wall outside of his office, and with a big red pen it said, ‘This is not country music.’ Roger and Gram had gone to do an interview with him when we were all still with the Byrds, and Ralph was such a jerk to them then that they wrote that song “Drug Store Truck Driving Man”. A classic! I wish I’d written a part of that. But later, whenever I’d go on his show with the Desert Rose Band, Ralph would ask, “Did you write that song?” Finally, I had to say, “No, but I wish I had!” So when Roger was on later, Ralph would say, “Well, how is Gram doing?” and Roger would answer, “He’s still dead.” McGuinn was pretty darned quick in those situations!” 

Lyrics

He’s a drug store truck-drivin’ man
He’s the head of the Ku Klux Klan
When summer rolls around
He’ll be lucky if he’s not in town

Well, he’s got him a house on the hill
He plays country records till you’ve had your fill
He’s a fireman’s friend he’s an all-night DJ
But he sure does think different from the records he plays

He’s a drug store truck-drivin’ man
He’s the head of the Ku Klux Klan
When summer rolls around
He’ll be lucky if he’s not in town

Well, he don’t like the young folks I know
He told me one night on his radio show
He’s got him a medal he won in the War
It weighs five-hundred pounds and it sleeps on his floor

He’s a drug store truck drivin’ man
He’s the head of the Ku Klux Klan
When summer rolls around
He’ll be lucky if he’s not in town

He’s been like a father to me
He’s the only DJ you can hear after three
I’m an all-night musician in a rock and roll band
And why he don’t like me I can’t understand

He’s a drug store truck-drivin’ man
He’s the head of the Ku Klux Klan
When summer rolls around
He’ll be lucky if he’s not in town

He’ll be lucky if he’s not in town

This one’s for you, Ralph

 

 

Author: badfinger20

Guitar, Bass, song writer,

23 thoughts on “The Byrds – Drug Store Truck Driving Man”

  1. I miss the old Ralph Emery Show on the Nashville Network- whatever happened to Shotgun Red? That show was so bad it was good. Is Ralph still living? I think at one time he was married to Skeeter Davis?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes Ralph is still living…I remember watching it early each morning at my grandmother’s house. The guy that did Shotgun Red still does it around Nashville I believe. It’s funny I had not thought of him in years and I heard something the other day about an appearance… Ralph’s son was a big disc jockey in Nashville that played top 40 known as Coyote McCloud… Yes, Skeeter was married to Ralph at one time…after the divorce, they both said some things about each other in the press and their autobiographies…
      In the 80s McGuinn was on his show and they talked about what happened…They were both pros about it but it was a little uncomfortable…the Parsons remark was off air…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Has McGuinn ever done a book? With all the rock bios that come out it is hard to keep track. … I don’t see the Emery Show making it today in country music- if the acts that are popular today are really country? I don’t think George Jones ever did one song about a beach. I think they all owe Jimmy Buffett a finders fee.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I know…the bios are coming fast. I don’t think McGuinn has done one. Oh if Ralph thought “You Aint Going Nowhere” wasn’t country what does he think today?
        Buffett is on an island by himself… It’s hard not to like him.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I like Buffett- I guess I didn’t explain myself well- it sounds to me like the current crop of country fakers were influenced by him. I don’t think he ever called himself a country artist but they have stolen his idea for songs- drinking- the beach- partying etc– and are making a living off of his blue print- and calling it country music.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. You know I never thought about that but they have…they took Buffett and a touch of the Eagles and ran terrible ways with it. It is awful today…No it wasn’t you…it was the way I phrased it…I thought you liked Buffett.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Yes I like Buffett just hate the way they have ripped him off. Yes they have ripped off The Eagles too- they’ve made millions from it- but it is terrible stuff.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Bottom of the barrel and it is embarrassing to listen to. I think of modern country as a bad imitation of Lynyrd Skynyrd… Heck, Lynyrd Skynyrd is a bad imitation of Lynyrd Skynyrd now.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. It is not a big challenge as far as music goes listening goes. One bad artist sounds like the other one- just with different names.- feed it to the masses they will eat it up.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. With no heart or soul in it. It is disposable now. That is the difference now. Music at one time meant something…I’m sounding corny but it did. It would be an event with an album was released and you would look forward to it…

        People don’t care about quality. The younger generation is getting better I think… and there are good bands out there now but they don’t get played by the mainstream. I see some on Youtube but never hear them on radio… Only the big names.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. I can’t disagree with you on your top comment- I can’t remember the last album release that I really looked forward to- as an event.. and you are also right the good acts out there today don’t get the airplay they deserve. They aren’t the flavor of the year- if it is bit of a risk to play something they chose to go with the safe stuff that the numbers tell them to go for.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Yes I’ll exit off of my soapbox but it aggravates me. You said it right…it’s all about being safe. They actually run analytics about what beats are more popular and go with that in some cases. I just want music that means something.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. Ok…what did you think about his mom and dad being brought in? That was great to me and made me relate to it more…of course he saw himself going to the soccer match in an earlier episode…
        John Simm had to be in every shot but isn’t Gene Hunt a wonder character?
        Also have you heard the song “Around the Corner” before? It was the song being played as Sam was telling his Mom what to tell Sam at the end.

        Liked by 1 person

      12. I thought that was a great episode- it didn’t shock me because he was dealing with his mom in earlier episodes but towards the end when he had to make decisions on what to do– Gene Hunt is my favorite character in the show- fantastic… I had never heard that song before. I have a list of all the songs played on the show- I think I am going to make a playlist with them all… Life On Mars has been my favorite Bowie song for some time- but the way they have used it in the show- makes me love it even more… thanks for the recommendation I would have never found it on my own.. now on to season 2!!

        Liked by 1 person

      13. I don’t mean to interrogate you but it’s just a very well done show. I’m glad you like it. Remember Ashes to Ashes goes on with it. It will take you back also.
        I appreciate The Wire. We are going to watch some more tonight. A new series is nice…
        Now this may shock you but I’ve never seen the Sopranos. I love Goodfellas and mob movies so I know I will like it…I just have to get it. I’ve only seen small parts of it.

        Liked by 1 person

      14. No I like the questions! Keep them coming… You have never seen The Sopranos? No doubt you would love it. I got on board after season 1 was already over–its hard to believe that was 20 years ago…

        Liked by 1 person

      15. Gene Hunt to me is the reason why it hit so big over there. I better hold off though until you are done because I don’t want to mix something up and give something away. I feel in love with Annie also….yep I had a question typed out and I looked it up and it’s in the second season…
        No I’ve never seen The Sopranos or Breaking Bad.. I can tell by the way you talk about The Sopranos I would like it.

        Liked by 1 person

      16. I could listen to Annie talk forever… Yes I love how Gene looks at things- he is very realistic. I think you’d love The Sopranos and Breaking Bad also… I had a dream the other night and Tony Soprano was in it– I can’t recall the details though.. The Sopranos has a rich variety of characters in it…

        Liked by 1 person

      17. It’s interesting how they compare the analytic of today and the instinct of the past. I’m going to skim through it before you get done so I’m ready. I agree about Annie and I love the Cosmic bartender.
        After the Wire I’ll get the Sopranos.

        Liked by 1 person

      18. Yes it is interesting to realize what they didn’t have back in 1973 that they did have a few decades later.. makes you wonder in say 2048 how primitive things in 2018 seemed?

        Liked by 1 person

      19. I can’t imagine. When my son was young I would take him with me to flea markets and show him a typewriter and older things. I just wanted him to know what came before… For some reason that is important to me…it’s like who influenced who in music… Ok I’m rambling without muscle relaxers!

        Liked by 1 person

      20. I think that is a good idea- so many young people today don’t even know what you are talking about when you mention things that are no longer prominent. It’s good to spread the knowledge of the past–

        Liked by 1 person

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