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"King of the Road" is a 1965 song written and originally recorded by country singer Roger Miller. The lyrics tell of a hobo who despite being poor (A "Man of means by no means") revels in his freedom, describing himself facetiously as the "king of the road". It was Roger's third single.[1]

Contents

History

Belgian recording artist Helmut Lotti states that the song was written at the Idanha Hotel in Boise, Idaho.[2] In an interview with deejay Robert W. Morgan in the early 70's, Miller mentioned writing it while in the Chicago area. The highly popular crossover record hit #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #1 on their Country and Easy Listening surveys. It was also a UK #1.

The song has been covered by several other artists, including Dean Martin, Elvis Presley, Jack Jones, Boney M., R.E.M., Johnny Paycheck, The Chipmunks, Boxcar Willie, Randy Travis, Rangers, James Kilbane, John Stevens, the Statler Brothers, Rufus Wainwright & Teddy Thompson, Giant Sand, Peligro, The Proclaimers, Ray Conniff Singers and The Reverend Horton Heat and Joe Strummer during live performances.

The King Family Show was a TV variety show broadcast from 1965 to 1969. Each week, the King Family would run through a medley of the popular tunes of the week. The family-oriented show producers were uncomfortable with the line "I ain't got no cigarettes", and replaced it with "no regrets". The kids music compilation Sugar Beats changes the line to "I don't want what I can't get".[3] It also changes "worn out suits and shoes" to "clothes and shoes".

The song is featured in Wim Wenders' 1976 film, Im Lauf der Zeit (In the Course of Time; English title Kings of the Road). It is also featured at the beginning of Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Brokeback Mountain, Into the Wild and in Swingers. Miller performs it in the concert film The Big T.N.T. Show. The recording by The Proclaimers featured in the film "The Crossing" (1990).

The lyrics "no pool, no pets, I ain't got no cigarettes"[4] were referenced by Christopher McCandless on his journey in Alaska.

The song is featured in the HBO mini series Generation Kill in Episode seven "Bomb in the Garden." It is sung by the Marines and reporter in Bravo Two's point Humvee as they drive through Baghdad.

Queen of the House

In the same year (1965), country music singer Jody Miller answered "King of the Road" with "Queen of the House". The song used Roger Miller's music while changing the lyrics to describe the day-to-day life of a housewife. The words were written by Mary Taylor.[5][6] Singer Connie Francis later recorded the song on her 1966 album "Live at the Sahara".

Footnotes

References

Preceded by
"I've Got a Tiger By the Tail" by Buck Owens
Billboard Hot Country Singles number-one single
March 27, 1965 - April 24, 1965
Succeeded by
"This Is It" by Jim Reeves
Preceded by
"Ticket to Ride" by The Beatles
UK number-one single
May 13, 1965
Succeeded by
"Where Are You Now My Love" by Jackie Trent
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