Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll – Another One Rides The Bus

CamWell now that I have theme I am going to wrestle it to the ground, or when a letter stumps me, abandon it, whichever comes first. Last week we took a flight around the letter A on Air Camada and this week we jump aboard the bus.

I have taken my fair share of buses over the years and my last two trips to Ottawa  saw me on the old Greyhound for the return trips. Note to smoking travelers on the Ottawa to Toronto run, there is one food stop on Highway 7 where they have great butter tarts but do not sell ciggies, stock up before the journey home.


Bus InteriorBus trips are much easier now and with the advent of Wi-Fi there is no need to speak to anyone and you can whittle down the hours with a couple of movies or catching up on your fave HBO-type series. You could watch “Planes, Trains & Automobiles” and re-live the scene where John Candy gets a Greyhound rockin’ to the theme from “The Flintstones” after Steve Martin leaves them cold with his take on “Three Coins In A Fountain”. Maybe the best bus rock’n’roll scene ever filmed was the “Tiny Dancer” sing-a-long in “Almost Famous”. It’s been a 1949 Western Flyer buswhile since I toured on a bus but I don’t remember very many sing-a-longs. Of course today’s touring coaches are equipped with private suites and every possible technological toy. My first cross-Canada tour was in 1979 with The Models and we styled in a 1949 Western Flyer bus which had little to no amenities but a cool shotgun seat up front beside the driver which is where I usually lived.

In the spirit of Ralph Kramden let’s hop on board.

“Spadina Bus” – The Shuffle Demons

In all honesty I never really liked this song but if Toronto has an official bus anthem this is it. I don’t recall any songs about the all night Yonge Street bus known locally as the “vomit comet”. Perhaps being an east ender I never really rode either of this two TTC standards and spent most of my time heading home on the 24 hour 501 Streetcar (which I could tell a lot of stories about).

“Bus Rider” – The Guess Who

As you are about to see Canadians seem to have more songs with “bus” in the title than any other country in the world by capita (ok, maybe not a provable fact). To my ears this is the most “Bachman Turner Overdrive” sounding song that the Guess Who ever recorded, and, rather surprisingly, was written by Randy’s replacement in the band Kurt Winter.

“The Bus Driver Blues” – Goddo

From their 1977 eponymous debut album. Sets the tone for the sound that will make them one of the most beloved Scarborough bands of all time and stars of The Knob Hill Hotel and the Yonge Street strip. Dig the cowbell.

“Greyhound Bus” – Oh Susanna

Although born in the U.S.A. Suzie Ungerleider (Oh Susanna) was raised in Vancouver and currently lives in Toronto so she holds position four with our Can-Con bus tunes. A great singer-songwriter who has made quite a name for herself in both countries with a half a dozen releases to date.

“Magic Bus” – The Who

This was the last single that The Who released before their epic rock opera “Tommy”. It was released in 1968 but had been sitting in the can since Townshend penned it back in 1965. Maybe the best version is the extended recording which appeared on “Live At Leeds”.

“Waitin’ For The Bus” – ZZ Top

From their third album “Tres Hombres” which was released in 1973 and saw the boys from Texas starting to get FM play across North America. “La Grange” was the single but FM programmers tended to play “Waitin’ For The Bus” and “Jesus Just Left Chicago” together as they were joined on side one of the album. This was many years before their massive MTV breakthrough in the 1980’s but for all time fans of the band this is one of their classics.

“Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street?” – Bruce Springsteen

This is one of the songs that was on the original demo tape that Bruce submitted to John Hammond of CBS Records. The song first appeared on 1973’s “Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.” although the bus in question was travelling in uptown Manhattan. Great song, very Dylan, and, no chorus!

“Double Dutch Bus” – Frankie Smith

A little bit funk, a little disco and a little bit rap and possibly the origins of Snoop’s style of  pig Latin themed vocabulary. This underground classic is the only one that will be remembered by Philly native Frankie Smith but the sample can be heard on all sorts of other records.

“Continental Trailway Blues” – Steve Earle

This song was released in 1987 after the success of “Guitar Town” and featured tracks recorded between 1982 – 1985 and paid for by the label that didn’t realise the talent they had passed on. Of course when success came Steve’s way they were happy to try to get some of their money back by releasing whatever tracks they controlled and this appeared on a compilation called “Early Tracks”. Steve was big in the U.S.A. but massive in Canada and by the time he released “Copperhead Road” he and The Dukes were selling out hockey arenas across the country. Steve contributed to the soundtrack to “Planes, Trains & Automobiles” with a killer rendition of Dave Dudley’s “Six Days On The Road”. Maybe I will conquer truck driving songs when we get to the letter T.

“Bus Stop” – The Hollies

I remember hearing this song coming out of the transistor radio back in 1965/66 on good old 1050 Chum and it always reminds me of a girl from Balmy Beach who I had a massive crush on in Grade One. We can thank two Graham’s for this track, Graham Nash and Graham Gouldman. Nash, later to be a major part of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, was the guitar player for The Hollies, and Gouldman, later to be in 10CC, wrote the song for the band. Classic Brit pop. As a bonus there is a 1.43 minute Tin Machine rocker also called “Bus Stop” but definitely not a cover.

Next week my bus with be parked at the lobby bar of the Marriott. I am sure I will see a few of you there.


Cam’s column appears every Wednesday.

Follow Cam on Twitter @CC59.

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Cam is very anxious to plant his butt on the roof of the Bovine and soak up a few rays. Soon.

The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll are proud to be presented by The Bovine Tiki Bar and The Bovine. There are heaters on the Bovine patio and great bands downstairs at the legendary rock bar. Fill up next store at The Rock Lobster and then get your rocks off at The Bovine. 

DBAWIS ButtonCameron Carpenter has written for The New Music Magazine, Music Express, The Asylum, The Varsity, The Eye Opener, The New Edition, Shades, Bomp!, Driven Magazine, FYI Music News, The Daily XY, New Canadian Music, NXNE Magazine and Don’t Believe A Word I Say.


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