The title track for my new album The Legend of Tony Baker and Other Lies is called just Tony Baker. The character is a montage of car enthusiasts I met while pumping gas at the local Pacific 66 gas station in Kimberley, BC. In the late 1960's having a muscle car was the dream of most teenagers and, at 15, I used to idolize the owners of the cars that drove in and I felt privilegd to gas them up. In many cases the cars were brand-new, their owners having landed jobs in one of dozens of high-paying companies: mine, stell plant, sawmill, pulp mill.
However, there were those who wanted to customize older cars (in '50's terms, a jalopy) and the protagonist of my song is one of these. As Spokane, Washington was just a few hundred miles away the car builder could access parts like wheels, tuned exhaust, shifters and other race accessories that could elevate theirr cars up there with the pros. Although some raced illegally on the highway there was a track outside of town where every weekend in the summer guys in new Detroit offerings as well as driving the custom-built car could test their cars against the best in the area.
The star of the song is a 1950 Studebaker Starlite Coup which, in hot rod status, was up there with a '49 Mercury but did not have the publicity nor customizing enthusiasts. The Merc was portrayed in songs like David Linley's Mercury Blues or Bruce Springsteen's line. in Cadillac Ranch, " . . James Dean in that Mercury '49." referring to Dean's car in Rebel Without a Cause. Nevertheless, when the Strudebaker hit the market in late 1949 the showrooms were packed and the compoany had to put on three shifts to accommodate demand.
They say that all good things must end and within a few short years the "lions of the drag strip" drifted away one-by-one into domestic life, school, the military or other paths in life. As I wrote in the song they traded their muscle cars " . . .for a wagon with wood on the side."
.The Legend of Tony Baker and Other Lies will be available for streaming on popular sites on March 1st. It is a collection of varied musical styles and stories. The CD is can be bought on https://www.kinrade.ca.