60s and 70’s country music singer Dick Curless with his eye patch and authentic barrel-chested voice has always been a fascinating, yet shadowy character in the history of country music. He is known mostly as one of the overlords of the truck-driving country genre.
Country music is country music, and the best definition of what country music is, is that you know it when you hear it. It’s self-evident. But the genre has birthed many subgenres, many stylistic movements over the years, and at times has seen a splintering and Balkanization.
Call him one of the overlords of country trucker songs, but don’t call him a one hit wonder. His name was William Dale Fries Jr., but the world knew him as C.W. McCall, and knew of him through his iconic country trucker epic “Convoy.”
While Nashville country was awash in strings and suffering under the oppressive thumb of producers such as Chet Atkins and Billy Sherrill, the dim lights, thick smoke, and loud loud music of The Bakersfield Sound was keeping boots shuffling and country twangy. Unheard Merle Haggard tracks and other rarities are included in new box set.
This isn’t an album of truckin’ songs that you sit back and listen to nostalgically, this thing takes a big arm cocked at a 90-degree angle like it’s about to give a hearty yank of the air horn, and instead grabs you by the gruff of your neck and pulls you right up into the cab of a serious diesel machine for one sensational ride. It might be one of the best Dale Watson albums to date.
A big battle ground in country music right now is the presence of so many songs about trucks. Though this recent popularity trend seems especially sinister in its simplistic, incessant nature, it is not necessarily unprecedented in country. From the early 60’s into the mid 70’s, songs about semi-trucks and truck drivers were all the rage, with big names like Merle Haggard, Del Reeves, and Buck Owens getting in on the action.