Vaughn Monroe—“Black Denim Trousers”

Since I heard it in a BBC documentary about Mods and Rockers, I’ve been enjoying this Lieber-Stoller rock’n’roll song, sung by the not very rock’n’roll baritone Vaughn Monroe. It uses the rebellious and dangerous spirit connoted by the biker uniform of jeans (denim trousers?) and a black leather jacket, a spirit that some argue has been diluted many times over since Monroe and poor Mary Lou lamented this nameless west coast rider.

He wore black denim trousers and motorcycle boots
And a black leather jacket with an eagle on the back
He had a hopped-up ‘cicle that took off like a gun
That fool was the terror of Highway 101

Well, he never washed his face and he never combed his hair
He had axle grease embedded underneath his fingernails
On the muscle of his arm was a red tattoo
A picture of a heart saying “Mother, I love you”

He had a pretty girlfriend by the name of Mary Lou
But he treated her just like he treated all the rest
And everybody pitied her and everybody knew
He loved that doggone motorcycle best

He wore black denim trousers and motorcycle boots
And a black leather jacket with an eagle on the back
He had a hopped-up ‘cicle that took off like a gun
That fool was the terror of Highway 101

Mary Lou, poor girl, she pleaded and she begged him not to leave
She said “I’ve got a feeling if you ride tonight I’ll grieve”
But her tears were shed in vain and her every word was lost
In the rumble of his engine and the smoke from his exhaust

Then he took off like the devil and there was fire in his eyes!
He said “I’ll go a thousand miles before the sun can rise.”
But he hit a screamin’ diesel that was California-bound
And when they cleared the wreckage, all they found

Was his black denim trousers and motorcycle boots
And a black leather jacket with an eagle on the back
But they couldn’t find the ‘cicle that took off like a gun
And they never found the terror of Highway 1-0-1
-Pete