“Uneasy Rider” by Charlie Daniels

Charlie Daniels was an artist who specialized in a genre of music, country, which relies heavily on tradition. However, back in the 1970s especially, he was very much in tune with the evolutionary changes affecting American society, and his music from the period reflected that. One such song is “Uneasy Rider”, where he mixes elements of conventional, detailed country-music storytelling with a tale about modern prejudices.

Inspiration for “Uneasy Rider”

This song was inspired by a movie entitled “Easy Rider” (1969). Said film is based on a couple of individuals, who do not fit the norms of the society, traveling across the United States. And such is the case with the fictional character at the center of “Uneasy Rider”.  He is taking a trip across the Southern United States on his way to Los Angeles. However, unfortunately for him, his car experiences technical issues in some part of Jackson, Mississippi where filling stations are scarce. So he is compelled to enter a nearby bar in search of help.

Now this man is in fact someone who can best be classified as a 1960s’ hippie, long hair and all. And this establishment he finds himself in reads as if it is the local type, i.e. one that is not frequented by outsiders. As such, the conservative folks there who do in fact hold down the joint have their own culture, which we can say is anti-hippie.

Confrontation with the locals

So while the dude’s car is being fixed some of the locals step to him. He’s one, and they are a group, so he knows the odds are against him. Therefore he devises this plan where he attacks one of them and then accuses him of actually being an FBI informant and someone who is in truth against his fellow racist conservatives. For instance, he falsely claims that this man is an underground communist and someone actually sympathizes with Blacks as opposed to the K*K, like the rest of the people of the town. And some of the people in the bar start entertaining these lies. 

So amidst the confusion that follows, the hippie hightails it out of the bar, mocks the racist locals one last time and takes off. And his adrenaline is so high that he basically goes in the wrong direction and doesn’t let off the gas until he’s a good many miles away.

Story in “Uneasy Rider” was a thorough reflection of America at that time

So again, whereas this song is theatrical in nature, it ultimately speaks to a reality which Charlie Daniels was dealing with at the time. And that is many of his musical associates were in fact hippies. And he found it amusing that said individuals were often under the impression that they could be attacked by random people. However, according to Charlie’s explanation of the song, it seems that he did not personally feel that hippies should be afraid of racist conservatives.

Facts about “Uneasy Rider”

This track was released by Kama Sutra Records in June of 1973 as part of Charlie Daniels’ “Honey in the Rock” album. And it is safe to say it is the signature song of that project, as when Epic Records reissued the album in 1976 they instead dubbed the entire piece Uneasy Rider.

“Uneasy Rider” was written and produced by Charlie Daniels. And whereas the tale featured therein is in fact fictitious, interesting to note is that the “fella with green teeth” was based on someone he actually knew.

And the track proved to be a notable hit, peaking at number 9 on the iconic Billboard Hot 100 and also charting in Canada.

Moreover in 1988, The Charlie Daniels Band dropped an indirect sequel to this song entitled “Uneasy Rider ‘88”.

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