My pappy said …

Reading the Los Angeles Times this morning, I came across this headline: “Charles Ryan, 92; co-wrote pop hit ‘Hot Rod Lincoln.'”

Ryan, a country singer and songwriter, wrote this classic rockabilly tune with W.S. Stevenson and recorded it in 1955. It didn’t become a hit until Johnny Bond recorded it in 1960.

According to the AP story in the Times: “The song was inspired by Ryan’s commutes in his 1941 Lincoln from Spokane (Washington) to play gigs at the Paradise Club across the state line in Lewiston, Idaho.”

My introduction to this tune came — as yours probably did — from Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen, a band out of Ann Arbor, Michigan, led by the gravel-voiced George Frayne, a/k/a Commander Cody. They launched it into the Top 10 in 1972.

Once I heard this tune, the Commander’s mix of country, swing and boogie-woogie had me hooked. I have six of their albums, all from the early to mid-’70s. I can’t say any of my friends really dug the Commander, so I’d guess you’d have to call it a guilty pleasure.

So let’s honor Charles Ryan, a Minnesota native who died last week in Spokane, and indulge.

For the record, here’s the version you know:


“Hot Rod Lincoln,” Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen, from “Lost in the Ozone,” 1971.

Here’s an even better version, recorded live in England in the winter of 1976. They take some liberties with the lyrics. It starts out this way:

“My pappy said, ‘Son … you worthless hippie … you shameless drug fiend … you no-good alcoholic … you commie punk! You gonna drive me to drinkin’ if you don’t stop drivin’ that hot rod Lincoln!'”

The pursuit just gets wilder from there, especially at about 3 minutes in.


“Hot Rod Lincoln,” Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen, from “We’ve Got a Live One Here!” 1976.

But wait! There’s more!

Here are two other versions, both from Chris’ epic post on driving songs from last summer’s “7 Means of Movement” series over at Locust St. To learn more about these cuts, head over there.

“Hot Rod Lincoln,” by Johnny Bond, 1960, available on “The Golden Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Vol. 8.”

“Hot Rod Lincoln,” by Jane Bond and the Undercover Men, 1982. Released only as a 7-inch single. Not available on CD.


Filed under February 2008, Sounds

7 responses to “My pappy said …

  1. stackja1945

    My introduction to this tune came when Johnny Bond recorded it in 1960.
    Showing my age!

  2. Showing my age here too…I got my first car no long after the original song was released. It was a 1973 Ford Gran Torino Sport Fastback that had 140mph staring right back at me on the speedometer. The interior of that car had more room than my condo does now. Got a ton of dates because of that car. I remember one of the first movies we drove it to was to see Billy Jack at the drive-in, and on the speakers you mounted on the window they would play songs until the movie started. Hot Rod Lincoln was one of the songs played. I went and bought the eight-track the next day, and my mom was convinced between that song and that car I had a death wish. Got four good years out of that car, did manage to hit 130 on the speedometer on I-95 in Ft. Lauderdale at 3:00am one Saturday morning, and blew the engine shortly thereafter. Ended up having to buy a cheap Pinto for transportation, and the social life suffered as a result!

  3. Bill in Milwaukee

    Bill Kirchen, the orginal guitarist for the Lost Planet Airmen, does a teriffic version of Hot Rod Lincoln on one of his solo albums. It contains an extended guitar solo that has to be heard to be believed. Worth a download!

  4. paul of illinois

    In the late 50s-early 60s, my brother and I were in rare agreement that “Hot Rod Race,” recorded by Tiny Hill and his Orchestra, was the coolest record in our mom’s collection of 78s. Then “Hot Rod Lincoln” came out and we were in high school.We always thought it was a sequel to “Hot Rod Race” but I’m not sure why. “Race” began: “Me and me wife and my brother Joe lit out last night from Kokomo. We hadn’t much gas and our tires were low, but that doggone Ford could really go.”
    A few years later, I saw Cody and the Airmen at the SIU Arena. He blew the doors off the place (“Too Much Fun, Lost in the Ozone Again,” but for me, the highlight was “Lincoln.”
    Thanks for bringing back some grand memories of a great time.

  5. Jay

    My pappy said, ‘Son … you worthless hippie … you shameless drug fiend … you no-good alcoholic … you commie punk! You gonna drive me to drinkin’ if you don’t stop drivin’ that hot rod Lincoln
    Anyone know where I can get this version of the song?


    Before I drop dead, I am determined to make this tune famous here again in Yorkshire, and beyond. Simply the best live music ever, Commander Cody; I’ve listened to this tune a hundred times and I never get tired of it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.