Charlie Daniels (1936-2020) – Uneasy Rider

I said would you believe this man has gone as far
As tearin’ Wallace stickers off the bumpers of cars
And he voted for George McGovern for president

Charlie Daniels passed away on Monday, July 6, 2020. I wrote this up the next day but forgot to post it. He was a country music legend. While I wasn’t a huge fan he was part of my childhood. He was an incredible musician…he played with Dylan, George Harrison, and many other greats… along with having a very successful career himself. The man at 83 had booked a tour this year but it was canceled of course.

Charlie had more serious hits than this… This is a novelty song and not a great representation…it’s spoken word country…but it’s one that is a little different because it captures the time.

I first heard this song in the mid-seventies. It brings back a lot of memories for me as a kid. I thought it was extremely funny although I knew nothing about McGovern, Wallace, John Birch, Tokin’ on a number, or much of anything. I did know what mag wheels and a peace sign was so that was a start. The song is about a long-haired guy that walks into a redneck bar to use a phone. He ends up playing on the conspiracy-minded rednecks there to get free…

I remember we would see hippies (or anyone) harrassed on television shows…My dad would always take their side. “Why are they bothering them…it’s just hair! (as my mom would shake her head) If I was 20 I would grow my hair out”…and he eventually did when he got old. My dad taught me a lot about equality…and to treat everyone the same…no one is better no one is worse.

This song peaked at #9 in the Billboard 100 in 1973. He would go on to have 9 songs in the Billboard 100 and two top 10 hits.

In the country charts, he would have 33 songs in the top 100 and three top ten hits.

Charlie Daniels: “I used to do a little bit of record producing. I used to produce a group called the Youngbloods that were headquartered in San Francisco. And we were doing a live album, and we did part of it at the Fillmore East and West, and we did part of what used to be called a rock festival, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It was one of those big three-day affairs where everybody in the world played. And that day I think it was the Youngbloods and the Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Airplane, and I don’t know who else.

And all these people were there at the motel. And they were these long-haired hippie-type people. The movie Easy Rider had not been out very long, and here we were sitting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with all these long-haired people, and I think a lot of them had the impression that if they were to get two blocks away, that somebody was going to run out with a pair of shears and cut their hair and threaten their life. I was born in the South, and to me this attitude was just kind of funny, and that’s where the idea came from. I just took a guy and put him in a fictitious situation, and extricated him. But of course there’s no truth to it other than just being around people that kind of had a fear of redneck bars.”

Daniels says the line in the song, “I just reached out and kicked ole Green Teeth right in the knee,”  “He had tartar on his teeth, and they actually turn green if they don’t get it off. I don’t think he practiced very good dental hygiene. And that’s where that came from; he had little spots of green on his teeth.” Daniels did not, however, kick him. “Maybe I should have,” he says, “but I didn’t kick him.”

Uneasy Rider

I was takin’ a trip out to LA,
Toolin’ along in my Chevrolet
Tokin’ on a number and diggin’ on the radio

Just as I cross the Mississippi line
I heard that highway start to whine
And I knew that left rear tire was about to go

Well the spare was flat and I got uptight
‘Cause there wasn’t a fillin’ station in sight
So I just limped down the shoulder on the rim

I went as far as I could and when I stopped the car
It was right in front of this little bar
A kind of a redneck lookin’ joint called the Dew Drop Inn

Well I stuffed my hair up under my hat
And told the bartender that I had a flat
And would he be kind enough to give me change for a one

There was one thing I was sure proud to see
There wasn’t a soul in the place except for him an’ me
And he just looked disgusted an’ pointed toward the telephone

I called up the station down the road a ways
And he said he wasn’t very busy today
And he could have somebody there in just ’bout ten minutes or so

He said now you just stay right where yer at and I didn’t bother
Tellin’ the durn fool
I sure as hell didn’t have anyplace else to go

I just ordered up a beer and sat down at the bar
When some guy walked in an’ said who owns this car
With the peace sign the mag wheels and four on the floor

Well he looked at me and I damn near died
And I decided that I’d just wait outside
So I laid a dollar on the bar and headed for the door

Just when I thought I’d get outta there with my skin
These five big dudes come strollin’ in
With this one old drunk chick and some fella with green teeth

And I was almost to the door when the biggest one
Said you tip your hat to this lady son
An’ when I did all that hair fell out from underneath

Now the last thing I wanted was to get into a fight
In Jackson Mississippi on a Saturday night
‘Specially when there was three of them and only one of me

Well they all started laughin’ and I felt kinda sick
And I knew I’d better think of somethin’ pretty quick
So I just reached out an’ kicked ol’ green-teeth right in the knee

He let out a yell that’d curl your hair
But before he could move I grabbed me a chair
And said watch him folks ’cause he’s a thoroughly dangerous man

Well you may not know it but this man’s a spy
He’s an undercover agent for the FBI
And he’s been sent down here to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan

He was still bent over holdin’ on to his knee
But everyone else was lookin’ and listenin’ to me
And I laid it on thicker and heavier as I went

I said would you believe this man has gone as far
As tearin’ Wallace stickers off the bumpers of cars
And he voted for George McGovern for president

Well he’s a friend of them long-haired hippie type pinko fags
I betcha he’s even got a Commie flag
Tacked up on the wall inside of his garage

He’s a snake in the grass I tell ya guys
He may look dumb but that’s just a disguise
He’s a mastermind in the ways of espionage

They all started lookin’ real suspicious at him
And he jumped up an’ said just wait a minute Jim
You know he’s lyin’ I’ve been livin’ here all of my life

I’m a faithful follower of Brother John Birch
And I belong to the Antioch Baptist Church
And I ain’t even got a garage you can call home and ask my wife

Then he started sayin’ somethin’ ’bout the way I was dressed
But I didn’t wait around to hear the rest
I was too busy movin’ and hopin’ I didn’t run outta luck

And when I hit the ground I was makin’ tracks
And they were just takin’ my car down off the jacks
So I threw the man a twenty an’ jumped in an’ fired that mother up

Mario Andretti would of sure been proud
Of the way I was movin’ when I passed that crowd
Comin’ out the door and headin’ toward me in a trot

An’ I guess I shoulda gone ahead and run
But somehow I couldn’t resist the fun
Of chasin’ them just once around the parkin’ lot

Well they’re headin’ for their car but I hit the gas
And spun around and headed them off at the pass
Well I was slingin’ gravel and puttin’ a ton of dust in the air

Well I had them all out there steppin’ an’ a fetchin’
Like their heads were on fire and their asses was catchin’
But I figured I oughta go ahead and split before the cops got there

When I hit the road I was really wheelin’
Had gravel flyin’ and rubber squeelin’
An’ I didn’t slow down ’til I was almost to Arkansas

I think I’m gonna re-route my trip
I wonder if anybody think I’d flipped
If I went to LA via Omaha!

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

20 thoughts on “Charlie Daniels (1936-2020) – Uneasy Rider”

  1. Good cinematic type story-telling. Stylistically, the tune reminds me of Johnny Cash and “A Boy Named Sue.”

    I think the only Charlie Daniels song I had been aware of is the one most folks know: “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” That’s quite a killer tune, at musically speaking!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That is a great comparison Christian! I never thought about Johnny Cash song but it’s true.
      The reason I pick this one is because I have a closer tie to

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is the first I heard from Charlie Daniels, and how I always thought of him. As a kid, I loved this song and knew all the words. I didn’t know who John Birch was, so I looked him up, and ended up doing a school report on the John Birch Society. So, I can confirm the educational value of this song. 🙂 I didn’t know about his work with Dylan, Harrison and more, but I’m not really surprised, either. He was truly accomplished and well-connected.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hadnt listen to the song in 30 or 40 years but I still knew all of the words. I have a hard time remembering yesterday sometimes.. but this came back!

      I like some of his other songs also but because of where I live I have heard them so many times except this one

      That is really cool that you got a school report out of it!

      It is cool to know about other kids connected to it also.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I swear they sort of buried this song for years after it charted. It seemed to me that Charlie didn’t want to be tied too closely to this one. If I remember, he even slightly changed his name or band name on his next releases.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. a fun song! I’d never heard it until a couple of years ago when I heard it on an AT40 repeat. I always loved that ol’ Devil Went Down to Georgia though. He was a great fiddler!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I voted for George McGovern for president and I remember the slogan being vote for McGovern and get a Humphrey. I didn’t realize that Charlie died and I never heard this song before. It kind of reminds me of Alice’s Restaurant, very cool. Mario Andretti lived kind of close to me in the 70s.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Daniels is one of those artists- who if I hear a song of his on the radio – i like it generally but the thought of buying one of his albums- never crossed my mind.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yea I never have bought any of them…of course if you lived in the south…you wouldn’t have to buy anything…they have played them so much here.

      Liked by 2 people

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