Keep On Trucking

It was back in 1970 that "trucking" became all the rage. The "Youthbeat" column in the Winnipeg Free Press (Oct 19, 1970) attempted to explain what the phenomenon was all about, and how it originated:

"Trucking," the expression for an exaggerated let-it-all-hang-out style of walking, is catching on.
The walk, which emphasizes a long forward step with the body tilted backward and the arms flapping in a Jackie Gleason and-away-we-go style, represent something similar to the Negro spirituals' "we shall overcome."
The walk says: "regardless how much we may be put down, we'll keep on trucking."
The expression originates in a blues song played by Duke Ellington in the 1930s. The lyrics say, "keep on trucking, truck your troubles away."
Kids say trucking around in school halls and outside makes you forget about frustrating classes.
The movement was popularized by the underground press. A cartoon strip which I believe originated in the Los Angeles Free Press and was printed locally about a year or so ago showed a grotesque person "trucking."

The cartoon the writer was referring to is, I believe, this one by R. Crumb:

And here's a page from a 1970 issue of The Student Life showing some young people trucking (via Pomona College's Photostream):

     Posted By: Alex - Wed Feb 27, 2013
     Category: Fads | 1970s

My mom was a great jitterbug dancer back in her youth in the 40's and she used to call one of the jitterbug dance steps "truckin'". Hard to explain but it's where the woman stands in front of the man, he has his right arm around her waist, they lean back and walk /skip swaying side to side in time with the music with left hands up in the air shaking side to side. Same idea with the exaggerated walk, but not invented in the '70s.
Posted by ScoutC on 02/27/13 at 09:58 AM
You just know that they were all employed by the "Ministry Of Silly Walks." 😜
Posted by KDP on 02/27/13 at 10:07 AM
As an old R. Crumb fan, I'm glad someone else appreciates his contributions to pop culture. My large, all-grey tomcat Fritz was named for one of his characters. (Hans came to us after Fritz, and was named as a nod to cartoonist Harold Knerr and the Katzenjammer Kids).
Posted by tadchem on 02/27/13 at 01:33 PM
The Grateful Dead have the ultimate "Truckin'" song. Lyrics:

Truckin got my chips cashed in. keep truckin, like the do-dah man
Together, more or less in line, just keep truckin on.

Arrows of neon and flashing marquees out on main street.
Chicago, new york, detroit and it's all on the same street.
Your typical city involved in a typical daydream
Hang it up and see what tomorrow brings.

Dallas, got a soft machine; houston, too close to new orleans;
New yorks got the ways and means; but just wont let you be, oh no.

Most of the cast that you meet on the streets speak of true love,
Most of the time they're sittin and cryin at home.
One of these days they know they better get goin
Out of the door and down on the streets all alone.

Truckin, like the do-dah man. once told me youve got to play your hand
Sometimes your cards aint worth a dime, if you don't layem down,

Sometimes the lights all shinin on me;
Other times I can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip it's been.

What in the world ever became of sweet jane?
She lost her sparkle, you know she isn't the same
Livin on reds, vitamin c, and cocaine,
All a friend can say is aint it a shame?

Truckin, up to buffalo. been thinkin, you got to mellow slow
Takes time, you pick a place to go, and just keep truckin on.

Sittin and starin out of the hotel window.
Got a tip they're gonna kick the door in again
Id like to get some sleep before I travel,
But if you got a warrant, I guess you're gonna come in.

Busted, down on bourbon street, set up, like a bowlin pin.
Knocked down, it gets to wearin thin. they just wont let you be, oh no.

Youre sick of hangin around and you'd like to travel;
Get tired of travelin and you want to settle down.
I guess they can't revoke your soul for tryin,
Get out of the door and light out and look all around.

Sometimes the lights all shinin on me;
Other times I can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip it's been.

Truckin, Im a goin home. whoa whoa baby, back where I belong,
Back home, sit down and patch my bones, and get back truckin on.
Hey now get back truckin home.


Truckin' was more than a way of walking; it was a social philosophy. It elevated the adherent psychically. Count me among them.
Posted by ewdove on 02/27/13 at 06:24 PM
Robert Crumb is brilliant. for more Crumb trucking.

Never got a trucking poster, but I've still got my Tommy Toilet poster somewhere. A Crumb classic. If my wife hasn't thrown it out. Can't understand why she'd want to do that.
Posted by Harvey on 02/27/13 at 10:54 PM
I always thought the phrase was just an encouragement or greeting. Never knwe it was a particular walk.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 02/28/13 at 08:51 PM
In deference to those who may remember otherwise, it seems likely from examination of those lyrics that 'trucking' was just another musical euphemism for having sex, just like 'rocking', 'rolling', 'getting down (tonight)', etc. It also seems likely that the trucking walk fad developed afterward, as a way for the hip to explain to the square exactly how one might "keep on truckin' til the break of day from the hips on down".
Posted by Mike B on 02/28/13 at 10:32 PM
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