Uneasy Rider
"Uneasy Rider" is a 1973 song written and performed by American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 singer and multi-instrumentalist
A multi-instrumentalist is a musician who plays a number of different instruments.The Bachelor of Music degree usually requires a second instrument to be learned , but people who double on another instrument are not usually seen as multi-instrumentalists.-Classical music:Music written for Symphony...

 Charlie Daniels
Charlie Daniels
Charles Edward "Charlie" Daniels is an American musician known for his contributions to country and southern rock music. He is known primarily for his number one country hit "The Devil Went Down to Georgia", and multiple other songs he has performed and written. Daniels has been active as a singer...

. It consists of a narrative
A narrative is a constructive format that describes a sequence of non-fictional or fictional events. The word derives from the Latin verb narrare, "to recount", and is related to the adjective gnarus, "knowing" or "skilled"...

 that is spoken rather than sung over a guitar
The guitar is a plucked string instrument, usually played with fingers or a pick. The guitar consists of a body with a rigid neck to which the strings, generally six in number, are attached. Guitars are traditionally constructed of various woods and strung with animal gut or, more recently, with...

A melody , also tune, voice, or line, is a linear succession of musical tones which is perceived as a single entity...

 and is sometimes considered a novelty song
Novelty song
A novelty song is a comical or nonsensical song, performed principally for its comical effect. Humorous songs, or those containing humorous elements, are not necessarily novelty songs. The term arose in Tin Pan Alley to describe one of the major divisions of popular music. The other two divisions...

. It was released as a single
Single (music)
In music, a single or record single is a type of release, typically a recording of fewer tracks than an LP or a CD. This can be released for sale to the public in a variety of different formats. In most cases, the single is a song that is released separately from an album, but it can still appear...

 and appeared on Daniels' album
An album is a collection of recordings, released as a single package on gramophone record, cassette, compact disc, or via digital distribution. The word derives from the Latin word for list .Vinyl LP records have two sides, each comprising one half of the album...

 Honey in the Rock
Honey in the Rock (Charlie Daniels album)
Honey in the Rock is a 1973 album by Charlie Daniels appearing on the record label Kama Sutra Records.-Track listing:...

which is also sometimes known as Uneasy Rider.


The narrator
A narrator is, within any story , the fictional or non-fictional, personal or impersonal entity who tells the story to the audience. When the narrator is also a character within the story, he or she is sometimes known as the viewpoint character. The narrator is one of three entities responsible for...

A protagonist is the main character of a literary, theatrical, cinematic, or musical narrative, around whom the events of the narrative's plot revolve and with whom the audience is intended to most identify...

 of "Uneasy Rider" is a long-haired marijuana smoker driving a Chevrolet
Chevrolet , also known as Chevy , is a brand of vehicle produced by General Motors Company . Founded by Louis Chevrolet and ousted GM founder William C. Durant on November 3, 1911, General Motors acquired Chevrolet in 1918...

 with a "peace sign, mag wheels, and four on the floor
Manual transmission
A manual transmission, also known as a manual gearbox or standard transmission is a type of transmission used in motor vehicle applications...

." The song is a spoken-word description of an interlude in a trip from a non-specified location in the Southern United States
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

 to Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles , with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621, is the most populous city in California, USA and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City. It has an area of , and is located in Southern California...

. When one of the narrator's tires goes flat in Jackson, Mississippi
Jackson, Mississippi
Jackson is the capital and the most populous city of the US state of Mississippi. It is one of two county seats of Hinds County ,. The population of the city declined from 184,256 at the 2000 census to 173,514 at the 2010 census...

, he stops at a "redneck" bar
Bar (establishment)
A bar is a business establishment that serves alcoholic drinks — beer, wine, liquor, and cocktails — for consumption on the premises.Bars provide stools or chairs that are placed at tables or counters for their patrons. Some bars have entertainment on a stage, such as a live band, comedians, go-go...

 where he encounters several local residents who question his manners, physical appearance, and choice of car. In order to extricate himself from a potential physical altercation, the narrator accuses one of the locals of being a spy, then escapes from the bar and drives away as soon as his tire is repaired.

Cultural references

The lyrics reflect cultural divisions in the Southern United States in the early 1970s between the counterculture of the 1960s
Counterculture of the 1960s
The counterculture of the 1960s refers to a cultural movement that mainly developed in the United States and spread throughout much of the western world between 1960 and 1973. The movement gained momentum during the U.S. government's extensive military intervention in Vietnam...

 and more traditional Southern culture. Unlike with most country music of the time, Daniels' protagonist is a member of the counterculture. The narrator attempts to distract attention from himself and his appearance by proclaiming that one of the locals he encounters is an "...undercover
Being undercover is disguising one's own identity or using an assumed identity for the purposes of gaining the trust of an individual or organization to learn secret information or to gain the trust of targeted individuals in order to gain information or evidence...

 agent for the FBI
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

 / and he's been sent down here to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan, often abbreviated KKK and informally known as the Klan, is the name of three distinct past and present far-right organizations in the United States, which have advocated extremist reactionary currents such as white supremacy, white nationalism, and anti-immigration, historically...

!" He continues with, "Would you believe this man has gone as far / As tearing Wallace
George Wallace
George Corley Wallace, Jr. was the 45th Governor of Alabama, serving four terms: 1963–1967, 1971–1979 and 1983–1987. "The most influential loser" in 20th-century U.S. politics, according to biographers Dan T. Carter and Stephan Lesher, he ran for U.S...

 stickers off the bumpers of cars. / And he voted for George McGovern
George McGovern
George Stanley McGovern is an historian, author, and former U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator, and the Democratic Party nominee in the 1972 presidential election....

 for President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

." He further states that the man is "...a friend of them long-haired, hippie-type, pinko fag
Pinko is a term for a person regarded as being sympathetic to communism, though not necessarily a Communist Party member.The term has its origins in the notion that pink is a lighter shade of red, the color associated with communism...

s! / I betcha he's even got a Commie flag / tacked up on the wall inside of his garage." The accused defends himself with "You know he's lying I been living here all of my life! / I'm a faithful follower of Brother John Birch
John Birch Society
The John Birch Society is an American political advocacy group that supports anti-communism, limited government, a Constitutional Republic and personal freedom. It has been described as radical right-wing....

 / And I belong to the Antioch Baptist Church. / And I ain't even got a garage, you can call home and ask my wife!" The narrator slips outside, just in time to get to the mechanic he had phoned to repair his tire and hand him a $20 bill, and chases his redneck adversaries around the parking lot in his car. He finally decides to leave before the police arrive and muses, "I think I'm gonna reroute my trip / And I wonder if anybody'd think I'd flipped / If I went to L.A. via Omaha
Omaha, Nebraska
Omaha is the largest city in the state of Nebraska, United States, and is the county seat of Douglas County. It is located in the Midwestern United States on the Missouri River, about 20 miles north of the mouth of the Platte River...


Daniels' counterculture attitude was consistent with that of others in the outlaw country
Outlaw country
Outlaw country is a subgenre of country music, most popular during the late 1960s and the 1970s , sometimes referred to as the outlaw movement or simply outlaw music...

 music movement but is in contrast to his later right-of-center
Right-wing politics
In politics, Right, right-wing and rightist generally refer to support for a hierarchical society justified on the basis of an appeal to natural law or tradition. To varying degrees, the Right rejects the egalitarian objectives of left-wing politics, claiming that the imposition of equality is...

 attitudes expressed in songs such as the 1989's "Simple Man."

Chart performance

Chart (1973) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks 67
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 9
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 69
Canadian RPM Top Singles 18

Uneasy Rider '88

The Charlie Daniels Band's 1988 album Homesick Heroes
Homesick Heroes
Homesick Heroes is a studio album by The Charlie Daniels Band released on August 15, 1988. The album is known for the CDB's cover of the Jimmy Dean classic, "Big Bad John," which also includes guest vocals by The Oak Ridge Boys.- Track listing :...

featured the single "Uneasy Rider '88" that was musically and thematically similar to "Uneasy Rider" but with a story set in a Houston, Texas
Houston, Texas
Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States, and the largest city in the state of Texas. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 2.1 million people within an area of . Houston is the seat of Harris County and the economic center of , which is the ...

 gay bar
Gay bar
A gay bar is a drinking establishment that caters to an exclusively or predominantly gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender clientele; the term gay is used as a broadly inclusive concept for LGBT and queer communities...



Two men decide to travel to New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is a major United States port and the largest city and metropolitan area in the state of Louisiana. The New Orleans metropolitan area has a population of 1,235,650 as of 2009, the 46th largest in the USA. The New Orleans – Metairie – Bogalusa combined statistical area has a population...

 to party but on the way get pulled over by a police officer for speeding. They decide to stop at the Cloud 9 Bar and Grill in Houston, Texas
Houston, Texas
Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States, and the largest city in the state of Texas. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 2.1 million people within an area of . Houston is the seat of Harris County and the economic center of , which is the ...

. The narrator's friend reacts violently to a sexual overture from a transvestite, which instigates a fight with the locals. (It is interesting that the narrator lands the first blow in both this and the original, albeit for different reasons.) The narrator and his friend then struggle to leave the bar amid the fight and get into their vehicle and speed away and then get pulled over by the same police officer who stopped them earlier. They end up in a county jail where the narrator then swears off drinking and partying.
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