Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Original "Hot Rod Lincoln" - Charlie Ryan

Charles Ryan, the Spokane man who co-wrote the hit song "Hot Rod Lincoln," ran his last road race back in Feb 2008 at age 92 after a long battle with heart disease.
"Anyone who ever had the pleasure of meeting with, or working with Charlie, knew one thing: He was the REAL DEAL!" wrote Karl Bingle, a friend who operates the Web site .
"He had the kind of spirit and personality that immediately brought a smile to your face and challenged you to live life to the fullest," Bingle wrote. "His amazing contributions to country and rockabilly music will never be forgotten."
Ryan and W.S. Stevenson wrote "Hot Rod Lincoln" and Ryan first recorded it in 1955. It has been recorded many times since.
Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen made it a hit in 1972, and it has been a mainstay of popular culture for decades. The song passed the 1 million-play mark in the summer of 2000, according to Broadcast Music Inc.
Ryan was born in Graceville, Minn., on Dec. 19, 1915, grew up in Polson, Mont., and moved to Spokane in 1943. He served in the Army in World War II.
He worked as a musician and songwriter, touring with Jim Reeves, Johnny Horton and others. He married Ruth Scheffler of Polson in 1943 and they had three children.
The song was inspired by Ryan's commutes in his 1941 Lincoln from Spokane to play gigs at the Paradise Club in Lewiston, Idaho.
"One night his Lincoln chased a friend's Cadillac over the Clearwater River bridge and up the Lewiston grade," the Web site said. "The telephone poles were whizzing by so fast they looked like picket fences as Charlie later referred to in his hit song." The song concluded with the rueful line, "Son, you're gonna drive me to drinkin' if you don't stop drivin' that Hot Rod Lincoln!"
Hot Rod Lincoln
My pappy said, “Son, you’re gonna’ drive me to drinkin’If you don’t stop drivin’ that Hot Rod Lincoln”
Have you heard this story of the Hot Rod Race
When Fords and Lincolns was settin’ the pace?
That story is true, I’m here to sayI was drivin’ that Model A
It’s got a Lincoln motor and it’s really souped up
That Model A Vitimix makes it look like a pup
It’s got eight cylinders, uses them all
It’s got overdrive, just won’t stall
With a four-barrel carb and a dual exhaust
And four-eleven gears you can really get lost
It’s got safety tubes, but I ain’t scared
The brakes are good, tires fair
Pulled out of San Pedro late one night
The moon and the stars was shinin’ bright
We was drivin’ up Grapevine Hill
Passing cars like they was standing still
All of a sudden in a wink of an eye a
Cadillac sedan passed us by
I said, “Boys, that’s a mark for me!”
By then the tail light was all you could see
Now the fellas was ribbin’ me for bein’ behind
So I thought I’d make the Lincoln unwind
Took my foot off the gas and man alive
I shoved it on down into overdrive
Wound it up to a hundred and ten my speedometer said that I hit top end
My foot was glued like lead to the floor
That’s all there is and there ain’t no more...
Now, the boys all thought I’d lost my sense
And telephone poles looked like a picket fence
They said, “Slow down! I see spots!” the lines on the road just look like dots
Took a corner; sideswiped a truck
Crossed my fingers just for luck
My fenders was clickin’ the guardrail posts
The guy beside me was white as a ghost
Smoke was comin’ from out of the back
When I started to gain on that Cadillac
Knew I could catch him, I thought I could pass
Don’t you know by then we’d be low on gas?
We had flames comin’ from out of the side
Feel the tension, Man! What a ride!
I said, “Look out, boys, I’ve got a license to fly!”
And that Caddy pulled over and let us by
Now all of a sudden she started to knockin
And down in the dips she started to rockin
I looked in my mirror; a red light was blinkin
The cops was after my Hot Rod Lincoln!
They arrested me and they put me in jail
And called my pappy to throw my bail
And he said, “Son, you’re gonna’ drive me to drinkin
If you don’t stop drivin’ that Hot ... Rod ... Lincoln!”
Charlie created the actual Hot Rod Lincoln by merging a 1930 Model A Ford with a wrecked '48 Lincoln. The Ryans hauled that dream machine with them to county fairs, concerts and car shows for years until his passing. This is one of the best classic hot rod tunes of all time. I actually had an anonymous request to do this. Thanks for the idea, Dave


Marvin said...

My dad, and a friend of his, used to go to Charlie's house after school, in Polson, to listen to Charlie play tunes on his guitar. Dad is the one who told me the history of Hot Rod Lincoln, after hearing Jim Varney (Ernest) singing it on the radio one day.

Dave said...

Hey Marvin: Thanks for that....interesting Data. I met Charlie only one time signing autographed copies of "Hot Rod Lincoln" on 45's at Back to the 50's in St Paul quite a number of years ago...very cool guy. D