Tucumcari scores immortality in song

By Karl Terry, PNT Managing Editor

I think a town really knows it has arrived when it’s been immortalized in song. Lots of cities never make the cut.

My boss, who manages the Clovis, Portales and Tucumcari newsrooms for Freedom New Mexico, recently put out a plea on his blog for media references to the city of Tucumcari for a history project he’s working on.

With Tucumcari being a second hometown for me, after living there 13 years, I knew I had run across lots of references to the city over the years, but only a few came quickly to mind.

The first thing that popped into my brain was a song written by Lowell George of the band Little Feat and made popular in the 1970s by Linda Ronstadt called “Willing.” Everybody’s heard the song and remembers the name of the town because of the song.

It’s a bit of a trucker’s anthem and the chorus with the Tucumcari mention goes like this:

“I’ve been from Tucson to Tucumcari

Tehachapi to Tonapah

Driven every kind of rig that’s ever been made

I’ve driven the back roads so I wouldn’t get weighed

If you give me: weed, whites, and wine

And you show me a sign

I’ll be willin’ to be movin’”

The next most well-known Tucumcari reference is in the Bobby Troup song, “(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66” You may have trouble remembering it because it comes after the break:

“You’ll like the aroma, of Tulsa, Oklahoma,

Albuquerque and Tucumcari, make New Mexico extraordinary!”

The other biggie is a song by Jimmie Rodgers called “Tucumcari,” that nearly everyone who’s lived there knows, because a morning radio show used the song as a theme for years.

Rodgers sings about getting back to a yellow-haired girl in Tucumcari and counts down the miles to Tucumcari in the verses.