Keep on Truckin'
For those of us of a certain age (most of the riders on the Bus, I suppose) “Keep on Truckin’” has another connotation that has absolutely nothing to do with vehicles. Although “Keep on Truckin’” is most often associated with Mr. Natural, that bearded, down-to-earth dispenser of simple philosophy, the phrase didn’t originate from the underground comics of the ‘60s.
“Keep on Truckin’” appears in the lyrics of songs recorded in the 1930s. The phrase was popular with the double-entendre laced hokum blues. The first use of the phrase that I could locate is Blind Boy Fuller’s “Truckin’ My Blues Away.” I don’t know if the phrase was in common slang use before Fuller recorded his song, but it has appeared in more than a few songs in various genres since. The most influential of the early Piedmont blues artists, Fuller’s records were top sellers. If he did originate the phrase, it soon entered common usage.
The extremely talented R. Crumb is the creator of Mr. Natural and the man responsible for the resurrection of the phrase “Keep on Truckin’.” Although he is legendary as a cartoonist, Crumb is also a musician with an appreciation of the classic recordings of the ‘20s & ‘30s. In the late 1970s, R. Crumb & the Cheap Suit Serenaders recorded three records of great string band and blues numbers that showcased their respect for those great, timeless songs.
Wherever it first originated, “Keep on Truckin’ has entered the American language thanks to Blind Boy Fuller and remained a part of our vernacular thanks to R. Crumb.
I have been a fan of R. Crumb for as long as I can remember. Two of the three albums by R. Crumb and his Cheap Suit Serenaders are in the collection on the Bus, as are an assortment of original issues of underground comics featuring works by R. Crumb. To order prints, posters, t-shirts, and books directly from the artist visit www.rcrumb.net.
Keep on Truckin’