Canned Heat – On The Road Again

Such an underrated band.  What made this band real to me was their live album with John Lee Hooker called Hooker ‘n Heat…it is incredible. They also represent part of the Woodstock era well. When I think of Woodstock…this song and Going Up Country come to mind.

Their appearance there raised their stock higher. They had two hit singles Going Up Country and  On The Road Again. They were both written by Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson and based on old blues songs. His unusual voice came from him trying to mimic the voice of old blues singers. Wilson was not the lead singer of Canned Heat but did sing on some songs.

Wilson’s nickname, “Blind Owl,” was bestowed upon him by friend John Fahey during a road trip in 1965 from Boston to Los Angeles and was a reference to the extra-thick lenses Wilson wore.

He had an encyclopedic knowledge of the blues. Wilson and Bob Hite founded the band in 1965. Lead singer Bob “The Bear” Hite was extroverted and a terrific 300lb showman. Wilson was just the opposite. He was very intelligent, awkward, suffered from depression, and was not a prototypical rock star. He was a great guitar and harp player.

Alan Wilson and Bob Hite, 1970. : r/blues

Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson and Bob “The Bear” Hite

The song peaked at #16 in the Billboard 100, #8 in the UK and #8 in Canada in 1968. This song was on Canned Heat’s album “Boogie with Canned Heat.”Alan Wilson played a tamboura on this song to get the droning effect. Wilson’s falsetto was in the style of Skip James. The song was written by Alan Wilson and Floyd Jones.

Alan Wilson died on September 3, 1970. No one knows if it was a suicide or an accidental overdose of Seconal… Later in 1981 Bob “The Bear” Hite would also die of an overdose in 1981.

The band is still touring. They have drummer Adolfo de la Parra who has been with them since the sixties as the only long term member.

On The Road Again

Well, I’m so tired of crying
But I’m out on the road again
I’m on the road again
Well, I’m so tired of crying
But I’m out on the road again
I’m on the road again
I ain’t got no woman
Just to call my special friend

You know the first time I traveled
Out in the rain and snow
In the rain and snow
You know the first time I traveled
Out in the rain and snow
In the rain and snow
I didn’t have no payroll
Not even no place to go

And my dear mother left me
When I was quite young
When I was quite young
And my dear mother left me
When I was quite young
When I was quite young
She said “Lord, have mercy
On my wicked son”

Take a hint from me, mama
Please don’t you cry no more
Don’t you cry no more
Take a hint from me, mama
Please don’t you cry no more
Don’t you cry no more
‘Cause it’s soon one morning
Down the road I’m going

But I ain’t going down
That long old lonesome road
All by myself
But I ain’t going down
That long old lonesome road
All by myself
I can’t carry you, baby
Gonna carry somebody else

Author: Badfinger (Max)

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

21 thoughts on “Canned Heat – On The Road Again”

  1. I listened to Canned Heat a lot in the early ’70s, before Blind owl Wilson and Bob “The Bear” Hite both died, and this band could boogie forever on songs stretching them out for a whole album side.

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  2. This was one of those songs I had heard tens of times before, but I had no idea of who sang it and the band’s background. Wilson has an unmistakeable engaging voice and Bob Hite was huge on the harmonica. That live Woodstock performance is going into the vault.

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  3. Definitely very representative of the Woodstock scene and sound, I think. I quite like this one and ‘Going Up country’ (?) but not sure I could take listening to a lot of them…something about his voice puts me just a wee bit off for one thing.

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    1. Oh you wouldn’t hear his voice a lot…you would hear Bob Hite’s voice on most of the other songs…it just so happens that those were the big hits… they had a top 40 song in Lets Work Together that Bob Hite was singing on.

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  4. Canned Heat’s first album was all South Side Chicago blues. I played the grooves off of it. Blind Owl did Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Help Me” in the same voice as “On The Road Again,” which leads me to believe it wasn’t a falsetto. He was an incredible musician. This was off their second album, “Boogie With Canned Heat,” that ended with a fantastic jam. That was the first album Fito de la Parra was on. Sorry this is kind of jumble…

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    1. No you are fine…I love facts about different bands…when I first heard them I thought they were a good hippy band….until I heard the blues coming out.

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  5. Yeah, the hippie look but bottom line blues all the way. Agree with Dave on Hite’s voice though, I don’t think I could get through a whole album if the vocals weren’t shared around despite the musicianship. Hite is just this side of irritating after about four minutes… Sorry! But Hooker In Heat- that’s a title.

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  6. Such a cool tune. “Hooker ‘n Heat” (gotta love that title) does sound vaguely familiar. I’ll have to check it out!

    “On the Road Again” and “Goin’ Up the County” are the only Canned Heat tunes I can name. Walter Trout who I’ve come to dig was Canned Heat’s lead guitarist from 1981 to 1984.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. CB and I were talking about that album…it is good and right up your alley Christian…trust me on this.
      Oh cool…he must have joined when Bob Hite died. Alan Wilson was outstanding as well. Hooker liked him and also called him the best harmonica player he ever heard.

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