Song Draft – Pick #2 – East Bound and Down – Jerry Reed

Welcome to Round #2 of the 2021 Song Draft hosted by Hans and Slice the Life. Round #1 was full of great songs from different eras and genres. I have really enjoyed reading the posts from the other participants.

My first pick was kind of obscure, so for pick #2, I chose something that many will be familiar with. If I am being honest, it’s a guilty pleasure for me. It is one that always has me singing along with. My second pick is East Bound and Down from Jerry Reed.

Jerry Reed Hubbard

Jerry Reed Hubbard was born in Atlanta, Georgia on March 20, 1937. By the time he was in high school he was writing songs and singing them. At 18 years old, he was signed to a record deal at Capitol Records by publisher and record producer Bill Lowery. He was being promoted as a “teen sensation” after recording some rockabilly songs in 1956. His label mate, Gene Vincent helped him get some notoriety as a song writer when he recorded Jerry’s song “Crazy Legs” in 1958.

In 1967, he reached #57 on the country charts with “Guitar Man,” which Elvis Presley recorded (and I have blogged about here: https://nostalgicitalian.com/2019/09/10/tune-tuesday-guitar-man/ ). In the 70’s he had hits with “Amos Moses,” and “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot.” He continued to record throughout the 70’s and also began to act with his buddy, Burt Reynolds. Films included WW and the Dixie Dancekings, and Gator. Then came 1977 ….

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is this-day-jerry-reed-performs-4-classics-the-glen-campbell-show-1982-585x390-1.jpg

Movie Music

Jerry Reed played Burt Reynolds sidekick, Snowman, in the 1977 movie Smokey and the Bandit. I had the chance to interview Jerry a few years before he passed away. One of the things we talked about what the movie and, of course, the music for the movie. The story behind the song, as Jerry told me, goes like this:

Hal Needham, the director of Smokey & the Bandit, told Jerry “We need a song for the movie.” Jerry said he was driving home that night and thinking. He said he started singing, “East Bound and Down. Loaded up and trucking…” He said he had the entire chorus of the song in his head by the time he got home. He said he called Dick Feller, a producer at his publishing company and said “Here’s the chorus (and he sang it to him. Write me two quick verses to go with it.” Within two hours, Feller had them done.

Jerry grabbed his tape recorder and then made a demo of the song to play for Needham. He said Needham loved the song and wanted the tape so he could use it in the film. Jerry told him, “That’s just the demo! You can’t use that in the film. I gotta go into the studio and cut it.”

Jerry also cut “West Bound and Down” for the film. It is the song that plays as Snowman and Bandit begin their trek, and it basically the same song with a few lines/words changed.

The song was released on August 1, 1977 and spent 16 weeks on the charts. It reached #2 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. Featured on background vocals is Gordon Stoker of Elvis’ back up group, The Jordanaires.

There have been many cover versions of the song including covers by Tonic, The Road Hammers, Supersuckers, Aaron Tippin, Dave Dudley, and Midland. None of them quite capture the “feel” of the original.

East Bound and Down

East bound and down, loaded up and truckin’
We gonna do what they say can’t be done
We’ve got a long way to go, and a short time to get there
I’m east bound, just watch ol’ “Bandit” run

Keep your foot hard on the pedal
Son, never mind them brakes
Let it all hang out ’cause we got a run to make
The boys are thirsty in Atlanta
And there’s beer in Texarkana
And we’ll bring it back no matter what it takes

East bound and down, loaded up and truckin’
We gonna do what they say can’t be done
We’ve got a long way to go, and a short time to get there
I’m east bound, just watch ol’ “Bandit” run

East bound and down, loaded up and truckin’
We gonna do what they say can’t be done
We’ve got a long way to go, and a short time to get there
I’m east bound, just watch ol’ “Bandit” run

Ol’ Smokey’s got them ears on
He’s hot on your trail
And he ain’t gonna rest ’til you’re in jail
So you got to dodge ’em and you got to duck ’em
You got to keep that diesel truckin’
Just put that hammer down and give it hell

East bound and down, loaded up and truckin’
We gonna do what they say can’t be done
We’ve got a long way to go, and a short time to get there
I’m east bound, just watch ol’ “Bandit” run

For comparison, here is West Bound and Down. Note the different musical arrangement. I like the addition of the strings and brass to this version.

Tune Tuesday – What This Country Needs

It has been some time since I posted a song for Tune Tuesday.  Part of the reason for this is that I have been spending most of my drive to and from work listening to Old Radio Shows.  This week, I plugged the old iPod in and hit shuffle.  I used to keep my “To Blog” Journal next to me in the car and when I heard a song that I felt might work for Tune Tuesday, I’d jot it down. During my drive, I heard today’s song and I figured it would be a good one to write about.

Most of my radio career, I worked in Country radio.  I have had the chance to meet and interview many Country singers.  One of my favorites, is Aaron Tippin.  He broke on the seen with a great song called “You’ve Got To Stand for Something” in 1991.  Follow up songs included “Kiss This,”  “There Ain’t Nothing Wrong With the Radio,” “Working Man’s Ph. D.,” “I Got It Honest,” and the post 9/11 patriotic song “Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Flies.”

aaron-tippin-726x526

I’ve had the chance to interview him a couple of times, the first when I worked at B95 in Flint and then when I worked at 94-5 The Moose.  The first time we chatted, we chatted about his upcoming show at the Genesee County Fair that summer.  It would have been 1998, because he opened his show with today’s song, more on that in a minute.  His show at the fair was the first time I had ever seen him perform.  During one song, he puts together a children’s bike while singing and donates the bike to a local charity.  That’s the kind of guy he is – he has a heart of gold.  Later in the show, he donned a fedora and sang a Frank Sinatra song, which just blew me away!

The second time I interviewed him was in the studios at the Moose.  We chatted about his love for flying, his patriotism, support of the armed services and so much more.  I had to ask him about the Sinatra song!  He told me what a big Rat Pack fan he was and we chatted about some very cool Dean Martin Box Sets I had.  He was so gracious with his time when he was there.  Before he left, I asked if I could get an autographed picture for my dad, who was also a big fan of his music.  He asked me about my dad.  I told him how he was a Vietnam Vet and how it was my dad who introduced me to his music.  He wrote on the picture for my dad, “To Sam.  I KNOW you got it honest!  Thank you for your service!  Aaron Tippin.”  Classy guy!

On to today’s song.  As I listened to the words in the car, I got to thinking about all the politics and such going on today.  The country is so divided.  We are hearing trash talk from each party about each candidate and so on and so forth.  I remembered Aaron doing this song as his opening song at the fair.  I remember introducing him and there was a podium set up in front of the microphone.  It had one of those red, white, and blue, flowery banners on it.  When I introduced him, he comes walking out with a suit jacket on and shirt and tie.  He goes to the podium and starts singing the song like it’s his campaign speech!  I loved every damn minute of it!  If he ever DID decide to run for office, he’d have my vote!

The opening lyric of the song says so much “keep what’s good, pile up what’s bad and then I’d strike a match”.  Going “back to the basics” would really be a good idea!  And let’s face it, Washington DC could use a cool statue of Hank Sr.!  Wouldn’t it be great if all the country really needed was some “steel guitar” to bring us all together?  I love the USA and yes, I am “proud of it” and I will “always love it”.

This song is one of my top 10 most played songs on my iPod.  Thanks, Aaron, for your friendship and your music!

What This Country Needs

If I was runnin’ this country

I’d start it over from scratch

Keep what’s good, pile up what’s bad

And then I’d strike a match

Yeah, we’d go back to the basics

Of how things ought to be

Yeah, there’d be a lot of changes

If it was left up to me

[Chorus]

Cause what this country needs

Is a little more steel guitar

And put a little fiddle right in the middle

Straight out of a Texas bar

And give us a song, we can all sing along

From sea to shining sea

Be proud  of it and always love it

That’s what this country needs

(Verse 2)

Now if you want to hear about livin’

Just twist that radio dial

Til you come to a singer singin’

What life is all about

Cause you can’t deny that people still cry

They laugh and they smile and they hurt

And that’s my humble opinion y’all

You can take it for what it’s worth

[Chorus]

Yeah, turn it on up and let it ring out

Across the land of the free

They ought to build a statue of Hank Williams, Sr.

In Washington, D.C.

[Chorus]

You just be proud of it and always love it

And that’s what this country needs.

Aaron+Tippin+Performs+Live+SiriusXM+Prime+F2-4UjTxQlUx

You can stop by his website and see what he is up to and try his wine here:

https://www.aarontippin.com/