TAKE THIS JOB AND SHOVE IT! | DAC, JOHNNY PAYCHECK & BIGFOOT MANIA

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“Always go hard and fast enough so that when you hit the ditch,

you can pull out the other side.”

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–Johnny Paycheck

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Country music outlaw Johnny Paycheck– singer of the hit song “Take This Job and Shove It”

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When the legendary Country music tune “Take This Job and Shove It” was released by Johnny Paycheck in 1977, it became a universal fist-pumping anthem for working stiffs everywhere– crossing cultural and geographical divides to unite workers in a time when the country was facing rising taxes, gasoline prices, unemployment (ironic given it’s title), and decreasing employer loyalty.  The song provided a much needed outlet for our frustrations, and said better than any others before just how much we’d like to turn the tables and stick it to The Man. Just walk away with head held high and no looking back.

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“Take this job and shove it.  I ain’t workin’ here no more.  My women done left and took all the reasons I was workin’ for.  You better not try to stand in my way as I’m walkin’ out the door.” Amen.

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Johnny Paycheck– the late 70s poster-child for frustrated and fed-up workers everywhere.

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The song made Johnny Paycheck a household name– and for good reason, because his hard-livin’ badass persona fit the bill perfectly.  So did that of the song’s original writer and Country outlaw legend, David Allan Coe– who saw the fifteen minutes of fame feeding Paycheck’s career more than his own. People say DAC  was more than a little pissed to see Johnny get all the glory, and not throw him a bone for actually penning the tune that had made him a star.  Well, they’d have a chance to share the limelight together a few years later when the movie of the same name was released  and both were given cameo roles.  Only problem was they were both upstaged by– a truck. But not just any truck– we’re talkin’ about Bigfoot.  The first on-screen monster truck that started the national jacked-up 4 x 4 craze that’s still with us.  I remember seeing the flick as a kid and being blown away by the massive, blue F-250 Bigfoot’s size and power…  Johnny who? The attention seemed to change overnight to– Take This Truck and Crush It.

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Bigfoot’s stardom skyrocketed while Johnny Paycheck and DAC both ran into trouble after trouble– ultimately resulting in prison time.

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Paycheck had always been a rebel and put himself down the hard road– christening his journey with a court martial from the US Navy  for punching-out his commanding officer. Born Donald Eugene Lytle– for a while he went by Donny Young, before finally settling on the stage name Johnny Paycheck.  He claimed it wasn’t meant as a play on Johhny Cash, but a namesake he picked up from Johnny Paychek, the boxer who’d fought Joe Louis in 1940.  Paycheck had been playing guitar and singing since he was just a kid– and had become an important back-up artist known for his unique tenor stylings, as well as bass and pedal steel guitar skills that were favored by the likes of George Jones, Gene Vincent, and many, many others.

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Johnny Paycheck (second from right) back in his days backing-up George Jones.  His major vocal influence on Jones is well noted by Country music peers and historians alike.

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When the Outlaw movement led by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson emerged in the 1970s, Johnny Paycheck embraced the scene full-on and hit his stride– having hit after hit, and in 1977 received an Academy of Country Music Career Achievement award.  The 1980s saw it all unravel, with arrests for fighting on a plane, accusations of statutory rape, and jail time for shooting a man– allegedly in self defense.  The ’90s weren’t much better.  Though Paycheck managed to stay out of jail, he filed bankruptcy stemming from major tax problems with the IRS, and the years of smokin’, drinkin’ and drugs had taken it’s toll on his health.  The outlaw rebel claimed the time in jail helped him “put his life in order”, but it may have been too late.  In 2003, with a body beaten and broken by a life of smokin’, drinkin’ and drugs, Johnny Paycheck passed away– unable to pull out of a lengthy illness compounded by emphysema and asthma.  His lifetime contributions and impact on Country music are epic, and will never be forgotten.

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Country music Outlaw–David Allan Coe

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As for David Allan Coe (who like Paycheck originally hailed from Ohio), well, let’s just say his outlaw exploits over the years could command an entire blog onto itself.  In brief, DAC started raising hell at the tender age of 9 years old– graduating from reform school to various correction centers, prisons and jails. Coe even claimed to have spent time on death row for killing an inmate who demanded “favors”.  Rolling Stone magazine covered the story, challenging DAC on his death row claim in an article titled “Rhinestone Ripoff”, putting Coe in a rather ironic position of having to prove his own guilt. Regardless of the death row claim controversy, he was indeed incarcerated at several prisons, including the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield OH (not the location of Ohio’s death row at the time). David Allan Coe was paroled in 1967 and made his way to Nashville where he embarked on his career– putting out twenty-six LPs, maybe more.  His strong songwriting skills, often peppered with raucous and raunchy lyrics, have proven him to be a true life outlaw– which he backed-up as a member of the “one-percenter ” Outlaws MC.  In other words, he ain’t no poseur– and he definitely ain’t politically correct.

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(Above) David Allan Coe can be seen in the epic Heartworn Highways, the 1975 documentary film by James Szalapski. It’s a must see for any fan, with music legends– Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Rodney Crowell, Steve Young, Steve Earle, and The Charlie Daniels Band.

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Circa 1985, New York, NY– Getting ready for the Motorsports spectacular at Madison Square Garden, Bigfoot crushes a couple of cars in an outdoor warmup. –Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

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History of Bigfoot–

It all began in the mid-1970s, when Bob Chandler, then a St. Louis, MO construction contractor, owned an F-250 4×4 pickup truck.  Chandler used his truck on the job and for off-road family fun on the weekends. But he found ways to break even the toughest of trucks, and that led to the discovery that there was no place in the Midwest to get 4×4 parts and service.  Recognizing a potential market, Bob, Marilyn, and Jim Kramer started Midwest Four Wheel Drive & Performance Center.

They still used their 4×4 as a work truck, and partly as a promotional tool for their business.  They tried out new parts on the truck, and kept making it bigger and better, always a step (or two) ahead of everyone else.  Soon the truck itself became an attraction.  In 1979, it did its first paid event, a Denver car show. Truck pulls in arenas and stadiums soon followed.

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Then, in 1981, Chandler tried something that forever changed the monster truck concept.  It fueled an explosion of fan interest and led to a legion of imitators.  He decided, just for fun, to see if he could drive BIGFOOT over a couple of junk cars.

A few months later, he duplicated the stunt in a stadium show.  The rest is history.  In 1983, BIGFOOT began a sponsorship association with Ford Motor Company.  In that time, the BIGFOOT fleet has had 16 monster machines and the F-Series pickup has become the world’s best selling vehicle.

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Inspired by the success of BIGFOOT, numerous imitators came forth in the middle 1980s. Car crushing became a staple of major truck pulling and mud racing events. But by 1987, car crushing was no longer the hot new thing. Given the strong audience appeal of monster trucks, the logical move was to start racing them.  Racing quickly replaced exhibition car crushing.

Chandler immediately leaped to the forefront of monster truck racing by using computer aided design technology to create a new generation of race trucks.  These trucks featured radical new tubular chassis and patented cantilever-based suspensions that represent the current state of the art in race truck design. The first of these trucks was BIGFOOT #8, which became the 1990 World Champion.  In 1992, Chandler became the first in the field to utilize the team approach to racing, and saw BIGFOOT #10 and Snake Bite (BIGFOOT #9) race to a one-two finish.  Between 1993 and 2006, BIGFOOT won 16 titles.  2007 marked yet another banner year for Team BIGFOOT, winning another 3.  To date, Team BIGFOOT has racked up 25 championships!

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Related TSY Posts:

LADIES LOVE OUTLAWS | WAYLON, WILLIE, JOHNNY, KRIS & COMPANY

TOWNES | YOU’VE GOTTA MOVE– OR JUST YOU’RE WAITIN’ AROUND TO DIE

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16 thoughts on “TAKE THIS JOB AND SHOVE IT! | DAC, JOHNNY PAYCHECK & BIGFOOT MANIA

  1. JP this is brilliant! Seems like back in the day we lived through the golden age when country music wasn’t all polish and flash like it is today. I will always have fond memories of Bigfoot and this song.

    • For good or for bad, I’ll always have Johnny Paycheck and Bigfoot linked in memory. Obviously due to the big impression the film made on me as a kid– but what a memory! And Paycheck is a legend that is often overlooked ‘cept for this hit– the man deserve major Country props, as does David Allan Coe.

  2. I remember “Take this job and shove it”, other songs that remind me of his life are “I’m the only hell my momma ever raised” “Old violin” and considering his tax problems, I would guess “Me and the IRS.” as well. :D

    He was very talented. Wrote a lot of hits for other people.

    Epic post…

  3. Whoah… back-to-back homers! Well done!
    If you can find a copy of The Real Mister Heartache: The Little Darlin Years, you’ll get a taste of early Johnny. Everything that makes country real and rich and , uh, a little creepy. What a sound.

    I was lucky enough to see him live, post-prison, at a converted roller-rink in Ohio. Brilliant. What a human being. And what a cannon of hits.
    I’m attaching a link to my favorite tune from this Little Darlin-label best-of. It’s called
    Pardon Me (I’ve Got Someone to Kill.) I hope my html works.

    Pardon Me (I’ve Got Someone to Kill)

  4. In the early ’80s someone wrote, in response to the Nashville Outlaws craze, a short history of DAC which ended with “If Willie and Waylon are outlaws, David Allen Coe is Al Capone.”

  5. Look at that top photograph! Paycheck sippin’ on a can of “Colorado Kool-Aid.” That’s one of the better story songs in the Tom T. Hall tradition.

    • One of my all-time favorite pics.

      I remember as a kid growing up in NY I’d see bikers sippin’ on Coors in Easyriders mag from time to time and it was totally foreign– not available in the Northeast. I thought it must be magical stuff.

      I originally hail from the land of Genny Cream– Rochester, NY.

  6. Well, I guess it needs to be said. DAC of today is not the same DAC of the past shown in this story. I get that. But he’s a part of Country music history, and an important part of this story. As one commenter noted–

    “DAC is a disturbing misogynist, racist, and possible murderer. I don’t really get the point of putting him on an otherwise reasonable website in 2010 and perpetuating his work.”

    I don’t condone DAC’s views– but I do acknowledge the contributions he made back in the early days, and that’s where it ends.

    DAC today– well that’s another story altogether, and a twisted one at that. He can be downright sickening.

    I’m not here to be judge and jury– you all are free to make up your own minds.

    If you don’t like it, bring into the light. You wait for it to break the law, and then you lock it up or kill it. This is America.

  7. “Take this job…” will always be a novelty song for me. It wasn’t until I heard the Mr. Heartache compilation that Omdroparebop mentions that I learned Johnny Paycheck had more to offer.

    Google up the mighty Neko Case covering his song “If I’m Gonna Sink (I Might as Well Go to the Bottom)” for a real barn-burner.

  8. I’ll second that preference for the Little Darlin’ era Paycheck. Some real spooky and surreal gems from that period. “The Real Mr. Heartache” is a great but notoriously difficult album to find. Luckily, Omni released “Nowhere to Run: The Little Darlin’ Years 1966-1970″ this year that covers a lot of ground in 29 tracks (and features a crazy sticker that reads “Imagine David Lynch as a Honky Tonk Singer…”).

    In additon to the “Pardon Me…” link above–and that’s the murder ballad to end all murder ballads–check out “The Cave” for more eerie goodness.


  9. Epic post. If you have never seen Heartworn Highways it may be, in my opnion, the greatest film about music ever made. Check out Larry Jon Wilson in the youtube link

  10. The thing that struck me about the top photo–the very first thing that caught my eye–was the clownishly large cowboy hat.

    As I recall, Garth Brooks also wears outlandishly big cowboy hats to hide his bald pate.

    Just sayin’.

  11. My wife always talks about when she was a kid back in the 80s and went on a trip to Tennessee with a classmate’s family for the summer. She always talks about being in a Nashville music studio watching Johnny Paycheck record an album. Don’t know which one, but it was around ’85 or ’86.

  12. as a paycheck fan for more than 20 years i’ll have to throw in my two cents. if you can find a copy of his first little darlin lp record “live at carnegie hall” you will thank me. it’s not live at all and some of the same songs as mentioned on the little darlin comps.

    he was a genius

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