"My Car"

© 1958 Lee Ruth (based in part on "My
Babe," by Willie Dixon, which was derived from
"This Train," traditional)


Photo: Steven W. Smith

Deke Dickerson
Deke Dickerson - Guitar, Bass, & Vocal
Chris Sprague - Drums
  MP3 Sample of Lee's Original



Song Lyrics:
Lee's Lyrics:
Now my car it ain't a very hot car
My car it really is a shot car
My car don't run so good
It got no horse power under the hood
But my car is paid for and it's my car

Now some guys have cars that really cruise
When they drag they can seem to lose
My car is old and slow and such a sorry case
A man would have to be a fool to drive it in a race.

Now my car it sure ain't much to see
Looks like a piece of junk but it was almost free
While your car is sleek and shiny
You'll be paying out the hiney
My car is paid for and it's my car

Now some girls are easily impressed
By the car you drive or the way you're dressed
My baby is stratified to get to where we're going
In one piece, her smile so wide
That all her teeth are showing

Now my car it ain't a very hot car
My car it really is a shot car
My car don't run so good
It got no horse power under the hood
But my car is paid for and it's my car

My car is paid for and it's my car
My car is paid for and it's my car

My car, it ain't a very hot car
My car, it really is a shot car
My car, it don't run so good
Ain't got no horsepower under the hood
But my car is paid for, and it's my car

Now some guys have cars that really cruise
When they drag they can't seem to lose
My car is old and slow, and such a sorry case
A man would have to be a fool to drive it in a race

Now my car, it sure ain't much to see
Looks like a piece of junk, but it was almost free
While your car may be sleek and shiny, you'll be payin' out the hiney
And my car is paid for, and it's my car

Now some girls are easily impressed
By the car you drive, or the way you're dressed
My babe, she's satisfied to get to where we're goin'
In one piece, her smile's so wide that all her teeth are showin'

(repeat verse 1)

Artist on the Song:
Lee on the Song:
Lee sent me a demo of this song, and to be honest, I hadn't heard it before. Apparently it's a song that Lee wrote in the late 1950s! Obviously it's somewhat derivative of "My Babe" but stands on its own as a cool original song. I thought it was a perfect choice for me to do on Lee's tribute album.

Around 1954 or '55, Chicago-based blues singer and harmonica player Little Walter recorded a song released on the Checker (could have been Chess) label called "My Babe," written by master blues bass-player and songwriter Willie Dixon, which was musically based on an old gospel song called "This Train." (Woody Guthrie had, some fifteen years earlier, used a phrase from "This Train" as the title of his autobiography, "Bound for Glory.") About the same time a new genre of music called rockabilly--a synthesis or fusion of country music and blues/rhythm and blues--was evolving, and it was rockabilly that caught my ear in 1956 and set me off on the trail of wild guitar music and other life-altering pursuits. In 1958, two rockabilly singers recorded hot versions of "My Babe," each featuring one of the best of the early rock and roll guitarists: Louisiana singer Dale Hawkins's recording for Checker featured Roy Buchanan on lead guitar, and Ricky Nelson's recording for Imperial featured James Burton on lead guitar. It was these two recordings that were the point of departure for "My Car." I was still in high school and very pleased to have an old clunker to drive. I never had any interest in hot or fast cars, caring little what they looked like as long as they started and stopped and got me where I was going. So, that's what the song is all about. I had a strong rockabilly sound in mind for it, but since I didn't have a band together in those days and could hardly sing at all, the song was never performed--even though it continued to rattle around in my brain for forty-five years or so.

When I learned that Deke was interested in finding a song to record for this project, I immediately thought of this song and I sat down and reconstructed it as best I could recall. (I probably added a few new lines to it.) I recorded it at home, along with some other songs, and sent the recordings off to Deke in Los Angeles, and I was pleased but not at all surprised when he chose "My Car." He recorded it in his home studio, playing all the parts but the drums himself, and the way he played it is exactly what I had in mind for the song back in 1958 or 1959 when the song was new.

Artist on Lee Ruth:
Lee on the Artist:
Growing up in Columbia, being a somewhat malcontent youth learning how to play the guitar at age 13, I couldn't help noticing the tall bearded hippie that seemed to appear everywhere--at music shows, at coffeehouses, at KOPN radio, etc. I never knew who he was for a long time, but eventually I found out that he was Lee Ruth and that he had been singing and playing around Columbia since the early 60s. We bonded with a somewhat unlikely love for Rockabilly and 50s rock and roll guitar players like Link Wray and Gene Vincent. Turns out Lee had an encyclopedic knowledge of music and guitar and we became friends. I have always appreciated Lee's willingness to share and play music with me, and so I'm happy to be able to do one of his songs for this tribute album! Thanks again, Lee!

I must have met Derek "Deke" Dickerson in the early '80s when he was in his mid-teens. He was already a very good guitar player, but what struck me the most about him was that he knew the music of the early rock and roll days in a way that was totally unlike that of any other young musician I'd ever met who was into the music of that period. He knew it and played it like he'd been there when the music was new, as I had been, rather than as someone who'd heard some old recordings and thought they were cool and was trying to learn to play that music by copying old records (which he'd done his share of). Perhaps he's the reincarnation of some unknown, long-lost great rockabilly guitarist. Anyway, we soon became friends and one of the things I did was have him come out to the house and listen to old 45 rpm records, which I have thousands of, many of which he hadn't previously had the opportunity to hear. Though we had a number of listening sessions, we never did get through more than maybe 20 percent of them, but it was a great opportunity for me to listen to some music that had once been important to me but I hadn't heard in decades. I was surprised and pleased at how good much of it still sounded to my sometimes jaded old ears.

Derek's playing continued to get better and better, and he always had a band of some kind together (sometimes more than one), but in the late '80s he started playing a solo one-man-band gig one night a week at Park Place in Columbia, using the name Deke Rivers. (Quickie quiz, children: Who was Deke Rivers?) I dropped in to see him play every week that I could, and one night he asked me to sit in with him on his last set of the night, so I picked up one of the several electric guitars he used during his gig and joined in. It was the first time I'd played electric guitar in decades, and I was a bit surprised at how quickly some of the old songs and riffs came back to my fingers, and how much fun it was playing with him. We played old rockabilly, old R&B, old country, surfing instrumentals, un-named improvised instrumentals, what-have-you--Hideaway, Last Date, Rumble, Sleepwalk, Midnight Thunder, Blue Christmas, The Black Widow, Honky Tonk, Walk Don't Run--taking turns on lead and rhythm. For a moment I almost felt as if I'd missed my calling when my pawnshop Martin D-18 guitar seduced me away from electric music and into the world of folk music back in the mid-60s. On a semi-regular basis I began doing that last set with him--different every time--until sometime around 1990 he moved to L.A. to pursue a real career as a full-time professional musician. His playing is still getting better and better, and he has become a true road-warrior of a musician, traveling this country, and across the great water many times, keeping the first name "Deke" from his one-man-band days and pairing it with his real last name. He still has family and friends and many fans in Columbia so it is a regular stop for him and I look forward to seeing him and hearing him at least once or twice a year.

Producer's Notes:
Recording Credits:
I've been a fan of Deke since his early days as a programmer on KOPN and the Rockabilly show he did called "Bop till You Drop." Now that I think about it, I think I even did an early broadcast and recording of The Tail Fins (one of Deke's early bands) on the "Boone County Live" show. It was clear from an early age that Deke had an absolute passion for Rockabilly. I remember a discussion Lee and I had many years ago about Deke. Lee said something like "Deke is not like a kid coming up to KOPN and hearing Rockabilly music for the first time and playing it over the air waves. It's more like he was there when it happened." You know I believe that is true. Deke has gone on to live his rock & roll and Rockabilly dreams out in California but stops by the old hometown to rock a joint as often as he can. I'm happy that Deke could find time between his constant touring to record "My Car," an original Rockabilly tune of Lee's! Thanks Deke for keeping the Rock in the roll.

Recorded at Deke's Home Studio Hollywood, California

Recorded by Deke Dickerson

Photo: Steven W. Smith

Photo: Steven W. Smith


The Project
Songs & Artists
Order Form
News & Reviews