Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Smash Records: King of the Road

Our next selection brings back a lot of memories as Roger Miller’s “King of the Road” was the first song I learned to play on the guitar. Back in 1967, I began taking guitar lessons from my brother. He suggested I learn to play by accompanying myself with the guitar.

We looked at one of my mother’s songbooks of popular tunes and found “King of the Road.” It was one I knew well from its hit status a few years previous, so sing and play I did; however, both were very rudimentary. What could you expect from an 11 year-old boy just learning three chords. I probably played it in the key of “G” – although the song is in “Bb” until it modulates to “B.”

At the time, I didn’t understand the import of the lyrics, but as I got older I grew to appreciate Roger Miller’s turn of phrase on his fifth single with Smash Records. And a smash record it was. It was a double crossover in 1965. Not only did it peak on the pop charts at #4, but it was a number one record for country and middle of the road radio.

It is said that Miller was inspired to write the song by simply seeing a sign advertising “Trailers for Sale or Rent.” The rest is musical history.

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