Words by Bill Fries; music by Chip Davis, 1976

The song starts with a military cadence. Why? What is a convoy? Military uses convoys. Why does the military use convoys? Protection, organization.

What kind of vehicle is this song about? 18-wheel diesel trailer trucks. What are the trucks in this song hauling? Why weren't railroads carrying these loads? What big public-works project made it possible for big trucks to take over for trains? Interstate highways. When did interstates begin? 1950s, Eisenhower's administration. What were they supposed to do? Mobilize defense in case of war.

What happened in 1976 that put pressure on truckers? Energy crisis pushed fuel prices up and lowered the national speed limit to 55. How did these factors challenge truckers? Drove up costs, covered fewer miles in the same amount of time, which drove down income. How did convoys help? If a lot of trucks traveled together, they could spot speed traps and signal the others; their large numbers made it impossible to pull them over for speeding.

How did the truckers communicate? CB radio. Why did they make up this strange language? Code not understood by others. "Translate" some of the expressions in this song. How does a separate language or slang create a feeling of community?

Track this journey on a map. What alternate routes were available? Was this the best route? Why or why not?

What other countries have kept their railroad systems? Why are trains more profitable there than in the United States?

"Convoy" performed by C.W. McCall on The Best of C.W. McCall, New York: Polygram Special Markets [314520394-2], © 1998. Available on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube.


For more information on C. W. McCall, visit his official website.

Rights have not been secured to reprint the words for this song. Please consult this online source:

C.W. McCall Convoy single
Album cover for "Convoy."

C. W. McCall is the stage name of Bill Fries. While working as an advertising executive in Omaha in 1972, Fries created the trucker character for advertisements for the Old Home Bread Baking Company. The commercials were so successful that the Des Moines Register published their air times in the daily television listings. The commercials led to several C. W. McCall songs and albums, with Fries providing the lyrics and the voice and his collaborator, Chip Davis, providing the music. Davis is a composer of New Age music who has achieved fame with his group Mannheim Steamroller.

In 1976 “Convoy,” a cut from the second McCall album, Black Bear Road, reached number one on the Billboard charts for pop and country music. Fries and Davis toured the country backed by the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant Boys, a band that often recorded with Chip Davis.

This song inspired many drivers to use CB (Citizens Band) radios to communicate on the road, joining the geographically diverse but tight-knit community of truckers.

What are the advantages of trucking over trains? What are the advantages of trains over trucking? Develop a transportation system plan that combines the advantages of both to save time, money, and energy.



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