Is It Just Me: Looking back at great storyteller C.W. McCall

Published on Saturday, 10 June 2017 23:38 - Written by NELSON CLYDE, isitjustme@tylerpaper.com

Last week we talked a bit about how Willie Nelson was possibly the first suburban (country rapper) on account of his limited ability to carry a tune or keep time.

It’s possible though I may have overlooked another pioneering storyteller from my youth named C.W. McCall.

Back during the C.B. (Citizen’s Band) radio craze McCall had some albums out with a story about a trucker who made frequent stops at the Old Home Filler’ Up and Keep On Truckin’ Café.

The songs were really love stories about McCall’s character and a beautiful waitress at the café named Mavis. She was described in the diddy as being built like a burlap bag full ‘o bobcats. A figure that could launch a thousand convoys if you please.

The whole storyline came from an ad campaign for a midwestern bread company called Old Home Bread. There were a series of TV commercials starring a long-departed Tyler denizen named Jim Finlayson. I knew Jim back in the day and he really belonged in Hollywood instead of Tyler. He would have fit right in with Errol Flynn and some of the other more flamboyant leading men of the era.

Rambling on, the ad campaign was such a hit it launched some albums for the ad executive behind the real McCall voice named Bill Fries.

As an 11-year old youth with limited access to music, the songs were a great respite. In 1975 adults controlled all access to music. Boom boxes and Sony Walkmans were just around the corner.

The songs were as witty as a Jerry Clower routine and Fries’ voice dove as deep as Johnny Cash. My friends and I all memorized every word and tried our best to make our crackling voices mimic the entertainer with limited success.

They were the type of background you would find in a Burt Reynolds Smokey and the Bandit saga.

You can find the entire campaign on You Tube and for those who remember the Finlayson of ’70s vintage they are a real treat. Check them out.

A little housekeeping if you don’t mind.

A picture we used last week of Willie and Waylon mistakenly pulled a photo of Willie and his drummer Paul English. A few readers let us know our error.

Then my faithful reader Carolyn sent this note:

I was tickled to hear of your sharing classic country music with Jamie! My big financial splurge in my old age is satellite radio in my car, tuned to Willie’s Roadhouse channel 58! You’ll hear everything from Bob Wills, Hank Williams up to today’s stars. We retreated each summer from Houston to what my mom called “a broken down old dude ranch” on the south fork of the Llano river during the first years of the polio scare in Houston, when all swimming pools and movie theaters were closed for the summer because no one knew how it was spread and were told to avoid crowds!!’

My brother and I learned to play our guitars and sing together. We really WERE old-fashioned country when it was NOT cool in Houston. I am now custodian of our huge collection of 78s from that time. Sons of the Pioneers to Cotton Eyed Joe!

Keep up the good work,

Carolyn

Thanks Carolyn. That was much nicer than the man from New York City who said Willie could sing better than I could write!

My mother would disagree.