Red Simpson, who became known as the Bard of Bakersfield for his songwriting ability, performs live and sits down for an hourlong interview at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum during this 2013 program, part of the ongoing Poets & Prophets series, centered on songwriters who have made significant contributions to country music.
A Capitol Records artist in the 1960s and ’70s, Simpson appeared on the charts with truck-driving hits like “Roll, Truck, Roll,” “The Highway Patrol,” and “I’m a Truck.” He also penned over forty songs for Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, including classics such as “Gonna Have Love,” “Sam’s Place,” “Kansas City Song,” “Close Up the Honky Tonks,” “You Don’t Have Very Far to Go,” and “Bill Woods from Bakersfield.”
Simpson opens his Poets and Prophets program by performing “Close Up the Honky Tonks” with guitarist Eugene Moles Jr., a fitting collaboration, as Moles’s father, the late Gene Moles, played on many of Simpson’s recordings.
Simpson talks about his family moving from Arizona to Bakersfield to escape the ravages of the Dust Bowl; living in a tent in a government camp; following his brother Buster into music during the birth of the Bakersfield Sound in the 1950s; receiving his first boost when the Farmer Boys recorded “Someone to Love,” a 1957 recording of a song he wrote with Buck Owens; writing “You Don’t Have Very Far to Go” for Merle Haggard; and becoming a fixture on truckstop jukeboxes and on CB-era trucking compilations.
Red Simpson ends the program by inviting Moles to join him onstage to perform three songs, “The Highway Patrol,” “Lucky Old Colorado,” and “Don’t Ever Tell Me Goodbye.”
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