Written and recorded in 1960 by John D. Loudermilk as a folk song, Tobacco Road failed to make any impression until 1964 when it became a hit for The Nashville Teens. Since then it has been performed by tons of different artists who adapted it to cross various musical genres such as blues, country, punk rock and even metal.
Loudermilk was not a commercially successful singer and had more success writing for others like Eddie Cochran, The Everly Brothers, Chet Atkins, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and Marianne Faithfull. I’m not sure how many of you remember Sunglasses which was a hit for Tracey Ullman?
While Tobacco Road has been performed by the likes of Jefferson Airplane, David Lee Roth, Lou Rawls, Status Quo, Blues Creation and even Jimi Hendrix, my favorite version is by Rare Earth.
Rare Earth was the first successful all-White band to be signed by Motown. The band has gone through an amazing 30 different members since formation in 1960.
Interestingly while the lyrics of the song has been adapted by different artists, the opening line has been variously sung as:
- I was born in a bunk
- I was born in a dump
- I was born in a trunk