10 03 2011

Truckin’—T. Koehler/R. Bloom, 1936 (Recorded March 10, 2011) This song put me on the map, so to speak, in the ukulele world. Around the year 2000, I noticed on the Flea Market Music Bulletin Board (an Internet BB for uke enthusiasts) a call for people to submit recordings for Ukulele Jukebox, a new ukulele music compilation CD being produced by a fellow named Griffis Hames. I had no home recording equipment at that time other than my component tape deck and a cheap Radio Shack microphone, but that would be good enough for me to get a song onto the disc. I recorded a cut of “Truckin'” and shipped the tape to Hames, who then digitized the song and placed it on the CD. (Home-based digital technology was surprisingly more primitive just 11 years ago than you might imagine, and I’m still curious as to how the man accomplished this transfer from analog to bytes. It would be five or six years before I’d put together my own digital audio workstation.) Anyway, Hames was kind enough to send me the finished CD and I was able to grab my 1 minute, 42 second mp3 from it and keep the wobbly, cheaply-taped recording for all eternity, or until my computer’s hard disk blows up, whichever comes first. The Ukulele Jukebox CD became popular among uke lovers and for some time to come people would tell me that they heard my recording of “Truckin'” from the disc. Fame, at last!

At its performance by Fats Waller in the mid-1930s, the song “Truckin'” capitalized on the boogie-down dance craze of the day. In the 1960s, R. Crumb’s comic rendering of various citizens doing their silly walk is reminiscent and no doubt was influenced by the historical popularity of that Depression-era dance step. In 1970, the Grateful Dead’s tune of the same name became an anthem that I suspect few hippies at the time realized was certainly meant by the Dead (students themselves of old-time music that they were) to recall an earlier method of funky locomotion.



2 responses

10 03 2011
Carmen Borgia

Really cool, Patsy! Crumb is a great fan / player of music of this style and era, so I presume he was referencing this song.

Keep it up!

10 03 2011
Patsy Monteleone

That’s what I think. Crumb’s kind of a historian of old jazz, and I’m sure had this song and others like it (as well as doses of acid) in mind when he came up with the “Keep on Truckin'” toon. Thanks for stopping by!

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