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Cousin Bud hears “King of the Road” and thinks of Bangor, Maine

11/19/2014
Roger Miller had a #1 country hit with "King of the Road" in 1965.

Roger Miller had a #1 country hit with “King of the Road” in 1965.

The shout out to Bangor, Maine in the 1965 hit song”King of the Road” was permanently tied between my ears before I ever heard anything by the Beatles or Elton John.

Thanks, dad.

My dad would spin the Roger Miller “Golden Hits” album on his living room turntable so much I learned everything I needed about England, Kansas City and roller skating in buffalo herds. He played Roger Miller along with Willie Nelson, Neil Diamond, Charlie Pride, Simon & Garfunkel and Chet Atkins.

Not the music most kids want to hear back in the early 1970s. Most kids wanted to hear the Beatles or Elton John.

But today, I’d put “King of the Road” right up there with “Hey Jude” or “Candle in the Wind.” It’s a great song.

“King of the Road” is a laid back and mellow pop song that sweeps you away with the twisted dream of the open highway. Miller combines a country lyric of motels, cigars and riding the rails with a rollicking rock n’ roll piano, a jazzy bass line and those fantastic finger snaps.

The song has something for everyone.

Which is why I think it should be the Bangor “city song.”

I can see a city-sponsored travel marketing campaign using “King of the Road” and one of its best lines: “Destination: Bangor, Maine.” The city has great restaurants, a growing arts scene, big time live music venues, sports, gambling and, of course, cheap hotels. It’s also in the center of the state close to the ocean, the mountains, the city and the country.

Hey, Maine calls itself “Vacationland” on its licenses plates. Why not make Bangor your vacation destination?

The song still resonates with listeners today as Cousin Bud called to remind me last month. And keep in mind: Cousin Bud only listened to the Beatles and Elton John when he was growing up.

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From → Bangor, Music

One Comment
  1. Yes! Also, one of my all-time favorites.

    He played Roger Miller along with Willie Nelson, Neil Diamond, Charlie Pride, Simon & Garfunkel and Chet Atkins.

    You forgot The Everly Brothers and Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass!!

    I can see a city-sponsored travel marketing campaign using “King of the Road” and one of its best lines: “Destination: Bangor, Maine.”

    Since the song is (in part) about a Hobo exploiting the “security” measures within that era’s railway system, I would have to assume that Maine’s Department of Tourism would not expect to profit (very much, if at all) from an influx of that type of visitor. I suspect the Hobo-element would not contribute much to the local arts scene, or spend much at the local restaurants.

    …I smoke old stogies I have found, short but not to big around

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