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December 16, 2007 4:39 PM   Subscribe

The evolution of one American song. First was Arkie Shibley's Hot Rod Race. Covers followed by Jimmie Dolan and Red Foley, with other artists coming up with their own answers. Charlie Ryan's Hot Rod Lincoln was the most well known, later covered by Johnny Bond, and of course Commander Cody.
posted by pyramid termite (12 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Don't forget Les Claypool - this is only a low-quality sample unless you sign up and all, but it's worth searching out the track if you can find it,
posted by pupdog at 4:56 PM on December 16, 2007

Wow, I had no idea the song had such a history. I only learned about it 13 years ago, when I turned 21 and started going to see the band Hot Rod Lincoln play rockabilly in San Diego. That band taught me to dance swing, they are part of the reason for my long love affair with old music, and when my husband and I left the country two years ago, they played our going away party. Dang, I miss those guys. (Buzz Campbell also plays guitar for Lee Rocker.)

Here is one of HRL's originals, with the original band lineup too. Can't find their version of HRL online, but it rocks - like the other bands that played it before them, they made it their own.
posted by andihazelwood at 5:46 PM on December 16, 2007

posted by John of Michigan at 5:55 PM on December 16, 2007

Charlie Ryan didn't just (re)write "Hot Rod Lincoln", he built it. From
Charlie Ryan is a musician, songwriter and a car guy. In the late 1940s, he purchased a used 1941 Lincoln Zephyr four-door sedan. After a couple of years, he decided to make a hot rod out of it. He removed the Zephyr body, cut two feet off the frame to shorten the wheelbase and dropped a 1930 Ford Model A coupe body on it. At first, the car was painted black with red wheels. Charlie installed a '48 V-12 engine in it along with the 3 speed + overdrive '48 transmission. The car has a lot of Lincoln touches on it, including cut-down Zephyr bumpers, a Lincoln emblem on the radiator, an the Lincoln greyhound radiator ornament. The interior has a narrowed '41 Zephyr dashboard. At first, the car was painted black with red wheels. Later, in 1960, the car was repainted red. It was repainted again in 1986 in Datsun Z-car red. Charlie says, "The paint's the only Japanese thing on it."
He's still got the car, too. I remember seeing pics of it a couple of years back in one of the hot rod mags--haven't had any luck finding 'em online, though. Great post, pyramid termite and I'm not just saying that 'cause I had the same idea once.
posted by arto at 6:37 PM on December 16, 2007

First On Race Day.
posted by evilcolonel at 9:01 PM on December 16, 2007

Found On Road, Dead.
(Thanks for the great music.)
posted by Fennel B. at 10:34 PM on December 16, 2007

I grew up knowing only the Commander Cody version on 45 and didn't know until much later that I was hearing a cover.

Here's the (inevitable?) Wikipedia article, from which I finally learned that it's Bill Kirchen's version that has all the fun guitar riffs in it -- I'd wondered about that from time to time.
posted by pax digita at 5:59 AM on December 17, 2007

nice post.
I have a new mental category for "stealth covers," for songs like "Hot Rod Lincoln" and Otis Redding's "Tenderness." Not that theres anything wrong with that.
posted by cogneuro at 8:54 AM on December 17, 2007

Here's a picture of Charlie Ryan's Hot Rod Lincoln.
posted by Floydd at 11:01 AM on December 17, 2007

I've always liked this song because it is one of the earliest pop song references to San Pedro, my home town.
posted by bephillips at 5:34 PM on December 17, 2007

All did a cover as well on their album Allroy's Revenge. They cleaned up the lyrics just a bit to make it fit the meter and, being a punk band, put some overdrive on the guitar riff. I think it's a great version and a fitting evolution of the song. All I could find was the amazon sample on-line, however.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:36 AM on December 18, 2007

I love this song, in all it's versions. It's just amazing.
posted by Mitheral at 8:59 PM on December 18, 2007

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