I am feeling extremely creative. And I am engaged in major avoidance. So instead of doing what I need to do, I went down the rabbit hole once again and lost myself in the role and depiction of the bus in popular culture.
I will start with a quote.
When I first read these words by Kesey in my freshman year of college they struck me. And they have stuck with me. They are words that I live by.
We will start the tour with books.
Steinbeck’s novel is about drifters and grifters and shifters, people cut loose, on the move. Crouse’s book is about the presidential campaign of 1972, the press bus being the vehicle (pun!) for the narrative. The literary magazine is a literary magazine, using “On the Bus” figuratively, as Kesey did. For straight non-fiction:
And, since we are on Greyhound, let’s check out this wonderful Greyhound map of America:
Movies with “bus” in the title:
Bus scenes in movies, emphasis on bus drivers, except when the emphasis is not on the bus driver. As in the first one:
The first time I argued a case in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal – in 1984 or 1985 – the case argued before mine was Overman vs. Universal Studios. The plaintiff alleged that Universal had pirated a plot that he had developed and submitted as a vehicle (pun!) for Richard Pryor – black guy driving around country in a bus with a bunch of white kids and made Bustin’ Loose without crediting his script. The attorney for Universal argued that there was a definitive, limited number of plots in the world, and that studios must not be hampered from their creative endeavors. I don’t remember if he advanced the Booker Theory of only seven plots, but he was authoritative. I was fascinated. I am pretty sure that Universal won – no infringement.
From the big screen to the little screen, the most famous bus driver of American popular culture, at least for the baby boomer generation and their parents:
Boomers also remember this:
The squeakiest clean hippie bus in the history of the world.
For their children, who don’t know Ralph Kramden from Ed Norton, there are two current famous television bus drivers:
Buses in songs, especially Greyhound buses in songs. There are more than you might think. And earlier:
Robert Johnson, “Me and the Devil” (1937): “You may bury my body / Down by the highway side / So my old evil spirit / Can catch a Greyhound bus and ride.”
The Drifters, “On Broadway” (1963): They say that I won’t last too long on Broadway / I’ll catch a Greyhound bus for home they all say.”
CChuck Berry, “Promised Land)” (1965): “I eft my home in Norfolk Virginia / California on my mind/ Straddled that Greyhound, rode him past Raleigh/ On across Caroline.” And later: “”We had motor trouble, it turned into a struggle / Halfway ‘cross Alabam / And that ‘hound broke down and left us all stranded / In downtown Birmingham.”
The Hollis: “Bus Stop” (1966): “Bus stop, wet day, she’s there, I say / Please share my umbrella / Bus stop, bus goes, she stays, love grows / Under my umbrella.”
The Who, “Magic Bus” (1968): Every day I get in the queue (Too much, the Magic Bus)
To get on the bus that takes me to you (Too much, the Magic Bus) I’m so nervous, I just sit and smile (Too much, the Magic Bus) Your house is only another mile (Too much, the Magic Bus) Thank you, driver, for getting me here (Too much, the Magic Bus) You’ll be an inspector, have no fear (Too much, the Magic Bus) I don’t want to cause no fuss (Too much, the Magic Bus) But can I buy your Magic Bus? (Too much, the Magic Bus).”
Simon and Garfunkel, “America” (1968): “‘Kathy,’ I said as we boarded a Greyhound in Pittsburgh / ‘Michigan seems like a dream to me now. / It took us four days to hitchhike from Saginaw.'” / I’ve gone to look for America.” Probably my favorite of all these. It still works for me, strong.
Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Lodi” (1969): “Rode in on the Greyhound / “I’ll be walkin’ out if I go.” In my cannon, one of the ten best rock and roll songs. In the early 1980s, Gary Mai gave me a “Stuck in Lodi” T shirt. He lived in Galt, outside Lodi. I loved it.
Roy Clark, “Thank God and Greyhound You’re Gone” (1970). “Now you come to me with a simple goodbye / You tell me you’re leaving but you won’t tell me why / We’re here at the station and you’re getting on / And all I can think of is thank God and Greyhound you’re gone.”
Harry Chapin, “Greyhound” (1972): “Take the Greyhound / It’s a dog of a way to get around / Take the Greyhound / It’s a doggone easy way to get you down.” The lyric of this song captures midnight at the depot, a cold night driving, dozing on the bus, coffee at the rest stop. And: “But there’s nothing new about Greyhounds / Nothing new about feeling down / Nothing new about putting off / Or putting myself down.” Wo!
Allman Brothers, “Ramblin’ Man” (1973): “My father was a gambler down in Georgia / He wound up on the wrong end of a gun / And I was born in the back seat of a Greyhound bus / Rollin’ down highway forty-one.” A miraculously great song. It was at the core of my life from 1974 until 1976. Dicky Betts was pretty high on my chart.
Paul Simon: “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover” (1975): “Just hop on the bus, Gus.”
Billy Joel, “New York State of Mind” (1976): “But I’m taking a Greyhound / On the Hudson River Line / I’m in a New York state of mind.”
Frankie Smith, “Double Dutch Bus” (1981): Get on the bus and pay your fare / And tell the driver that / You’re gonna get a Double Dutch Affair.” Funk. Double Dutch as in jumprope, an ode to that and the bus. What a video! Click on the album. Must watch!
Destiny’s Child, “Get on the Bus” (1998): “Better catch a cab or get on the bus/ I ain’t got no time for you.”
Warren Brothers, “Greyhound Bus” (1998): “Now I’m gonna catch a Greyhound / Getting out of this town / I’m gonna catch a Greyhound / Back to you.”
Sara Evans, “Backseat of a Greyhound Bus” (2003): “On the backseat of a Greyhound bus / Head hung down with the windows up / Staring at the rest of her life.”
A final song, which you perhaps thought that I had missed. Nope. Just put it off. Saved it for last. Deferred it.
I have a few more images of the bus.
This is the school bus in which 26 children and their driver were kidnapped in Chowchilla in 1976. It ended well, as well as a kidnapping can.
Until he retired, John Madden motored around the country from NFL game broadcast to NFL game broadcast. A man’s man’s bus.
Willie Nelson’s bus. In my book, a little more fun than the Madden bus, although that is not to say that I don’t think that John Madden is a fun guy. He probably is.
My session timed out doing this page. I have avoided doing what I was supposed to do. I’ll do it tomorrow. But I got this out of my system.
And I didn’t even talk about taking the Greyhound from San Francisco to Fresno to Delano on June 15, 1968, to begin my first summer working for the United Farm Workers. Or Gabby’s ride from Nekoosa down to Texas in 1967. Or the role of the bus in the history of the United Farm Workers.
I asked my friend to take a look at the pictures. He is a big fan of The Honeymooners. I’m guessing he’ll want to watch a few episodes tonight. Fine with me. What did he think of the photos?