“We Got Ourselves a Convoy”
How a fake country star gave voice to frustrated truckers across America.
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In the 1970s, a song about protesting truckers topped the music charts in multiple countries, and kicked off a pop culture craze for CB radios. In early 2022, that same song became an anthem for a new trucker-led protest movement in Canada and the U.S. How did C.W. McCall’s “Convoy” come to exist, and what has it been trying to say?
For this episode, which was inspired by a listener’s question, we’ve updated a story that originally aired in 2017, but that could not be more relevant today. Slate producer Evan Chung is going to take us through the history of this bizarre No. 1 smash, an artifact from a time when truckers were also at the center of the culture. It touches on advertising, hamburger buns, and speed limits but also global conflict, sky-rocketing gas prices, and aggrieved, protesting truck drivers.
Some of the voices you’ll hear in this episode include Bill Fries, advertising executive; Chip Davis, singer and songwriter; and Meg Jacobs, historian and author of Panic at the Pump.
This episode of Decoder Ring was written and produced by Evan Chung and Willa Paskin with help from Elizabeth Nakano. Derek John is senior supervising producer of narrative podcasts. Merritt Jacob is our technical director.
If you have any cultural mysteries you want us to decode, email us at DecoderRing@slate.com
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