East Bound and Down: On this day in country music history

smokey-bandit-poster.jpg
The boys are thirsty in Atlanta, but that's okay; there's beer in Texarkana. "Atlanta to Texarkana and back in twenty-eight hours? That ain't never been done before!"

That may be a long way to go, and you may only have a short time to get there, but when you got a sumbitch like Burt Reynolds behind the wheel of a 1977 black Pontiac Firebird Trans Am and Jerry Reed on the back door in a K-Whopper, you just put that hammer down and give it hell.

On this day in 1977, the film Smokey and the Bandit was released, becoming the highest grossing film of the year after Star Wars. In a time when Burt Reynolds could do no wrong, the film sparked an American fascination with trucker slang, and gave the country music subgenre of truck driving songs a little more credibility with Jerry Reed's addition to the soundtrack, "East Bound and Down," a song featured prominently in the film which details simply the movie's plot:

East bound and down, loaded up and truckin', a'we gonna do what they say can't be done.
We've got a long why to go and a short time to get there, I'm east bound just watch ol' Bandit run.

It was the 1970s in the American South. As I understand it, in this time and in this region, handsome rebels like Burt Reynolds were always willing to take a bet if it involved girls, green or glory. As the story goes, Texas bigwig Big Enos Burdette and his son Little Enos are at a Georgia truck rodeo and on the lookout for a truck driver willing to haul a load of Coors, then only distributed in certain western states, from Texarkana back to Atlanta. They track down legendary truck driver Bo "Bandit" Darville (Reynolds), and offer him $80,000, then the price of a brand new rig, to haul 400 cases of Coors back by the next day.

Bandit accepts, and recruits his good buddy (once slang for "friend," now slang for "homosexual trucker" and replaced these days with "good neighbor") Cledus "Snowman" Snow, Basset Hound Fred in tow, to drive the truck that will carry the Coors (Snowman was played by Jerry Reed, who was originally slated to play Bandit). Bandit gets his hands on a blocker car, that black Trans Am, which serves as a distraction for any Smokeys they might encounter while en route from Texarkana, Texas (which, incidentally, is located in a dry county, but never mind that) to Atlanta, where the boys continue to be thirsty for Coors.

Won't spoil the film for you but again, note that this was the 1970s - did Burt Reynolds ever lose in the 1970s?

Check out the B-side to Reed's single, "(I'm Just A) Redneck in a Rock and Roll Bar."

Jerry Reed was a very special individual.


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3 comments
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sm3
sm3

 How in the hell would you know this stuff?

C. David Apgar
C. David Apgar

 Nikki,

Thank you so much for writing this article! It made my whole day :)

Nikki A Miller
Nikki A Miller

Well darn it, it made my day knowing I made your day! 

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