August 2, 2012

The Byrds - "Truck Stop Girl"

Talking with Kurt Vile a few months back for an interview, he mentioned he'd been listening heavily to The Byrds 1970 double album, Untitled, particularly the track "Truck Stop Girl." A few weeks later, the album was recommended again via my favorite DC record shop, Red Onion Records, who just happened to have two used copies in stock. Needless to say, I picked one up and it continues to find its way into the rotation around here. There's a real wealth of excellent material on the two LPs, from the classic folk and blues cocaine anthem "Take A Whiff On Me" to Roger McGuinn's gorgeous "All The Things" that feature's Gram Parsons on background vocals. But Vile had it right: there's truly something special about the second track off the second LP—"Truck Stop Girl."

Written by Little Feat's Lowell George and Bill Payne, the song feature's expert guitarist Clarence White taking a turn on lead vocals. Unlike the polished McGuinn, White has an unkempt nasally drawl that drives the character and tone of the laid-back country rock gem with its loose swinging drumming, periodic splash of piano, and twangy lead guitar, wherein White makes use of the B-Bender—a guitar tool he helped invent—during the stunning outro solo. It's a simply told narrative about a young truck driver in love with a waitress that—like many stories of the road—comes to a tragic end: "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." What gives considerable weight to the track is White's own tragically early demise: just three years later at the age of 29, he was killed by a drunk driver.

The Byrds - "Truck Stop Girl" (from Untitled)

The Byrds

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