Tracks

Roger Miller’s song for the eternal optimist

Roger Miller

King of the Road

Smash

Release Date: January 27th, 1965

Words by: Roland Ellis
March 8th, 1965

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The character at the heart of Roger Miller's crossover smash hit ain't no down-in-the-mouther. He's happy living on the cheap, wandering from town to town; he doesn't want a steady job that involves paying union dues.

Roger Miller’s song for the eternal optimist Roger Miller 1965

So many songs or books about being on the road end up reflecting on the loneliness and detachment of it; the characters wind up lamenting the fact that they have no place to call home. "King of the Road" doesn't go down that path, instead remaining an optimistic toe-tapper to the end. Maybe that has something to do with only being two minutes long. Surely if Miller had tacked on a few extra verses the protagonist would've turned a corner and realised he's sick of the wind and rain; or that he misses some girl from back home; or that he's tired of scrounging for cigarette butts and trudging along in worn out shoes.

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