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