“We hit the green light and we were about dead even but when I caught second gear, I start pulling away from him and I look in my rear view mirror and I see him. He starts coming unglued! He’s slappin’ the steering wheel. He’s getting’ all upset. His wife’s slappin’ him and he’s slappin’ her.” – Denny Strickland
When Denny Strickland showed up in Nashville a few years ago he brought the 1968 Camaro Super Sport that he had owned since high school. It’s only natural that his first release “Swerve On” had to do with the open road with a modern take on the trucker life.
Denny will soon be releasing a fresh road tale, “How Far You Wanna Go” that not only features the trucks again, but, will feature his own bright red and chrome fire breather. Denny enjoys the nightlife of Lower Broad, especially behind the wheel of his barely street legal hot rod.
Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: What made you decide to use your Camaro in the new video?
Denny Strickland: In “Swerve On” we catered to the trucks and we did drag racing with the pick- up truck. My next single is “How Far You Wanna Go” and it does deal with a diesel truck but I’m going to put my Camaro in the video too as a little tease for eye candy. I’ve had it forever. It was my first car. I have been wanting to put it in a music video and I feel that it will definitely add to this one.. The song talks about you and your girlfriend and her taking control of the wheel and her deciding whether she wants to go to Memphis or Mexico.
TNB: Your songs definitely rock a lot.
DS: It’s more simplified. It’s rockin’ and it definitely shows that rock side of me but we’re going to give it the club element, that’s my persona. It starts with my jeans and that’s my country side and my rock elements you know, I wear graphic T’s and I got my bracelets on and I got my rings and that stuff, is my 80’s rock influence and I wear my hat and my boots. You know, that all ties in with the clubbin’ thing.
TNB: Where are you shooting the video?
DS: We’re scoutin’ out locations in Memphis and we’re looking at Mexico and another location. We’re definitely going to push the envelope. The video is definitely going to be high energy. We just now decided on the cover art and it is dark and edgy. You know, we’re keeping it real modern and rockin’.
TNB: What’s the story line?
DS: Well, this song is going to basically be a cross country road race from Memphis to Mexico. We are partying along the way and I’ve got my girlfriend with me. We’re goin’ out and we’re hittin’ these spots where we’ve got this much time to do it and we’re pushin’ the envelope.
TNB: Does that come from life experience?
DS: I’ve travelled all over and you know I’ve been on many road trips. It’s gonna be a journey and a trip across the bottom half of the United States down into Mexico. Everybody talks about escaping to Mexico and head to the border. It always seems to be a big element in Country Music. Memphis has such a big music scene too. But, “How Far You Wannna Go” is a driver’s song but it’s focused on where we’re headed. I have been workin’ on the treatment for the music video and the picture is just now comin’ together. You have to be able to tell that story and tie it all in and I definitely feel like this next video is going to fill the gap and paint the picture for the audience.
TNB: Tell me a little bit about some of your experiences with your 1968 Camaro SS around Nashville?
DS: I will tell you the truth. I knew just about every tow truck driver by their first name. I haven’t been stranded in a while. I take that back. I was stranded a couple of weeks ago. I ended up getting stuck and had to call a tow truck service. Yes, I’ve been stranded all over Nashville. When I first moved here, I kind of just parked it for a while. You have to be able to work on them cars. I can pretty much take care of everything on it. But, you get in those situations when you do have to call. You have to break down and you have to call somebody. The tow trucks have definitely saved my tail many times. They’re definitely a life saver. I’m actually going this week to get a fire extinguisher. I’m keepin’ that car!
TNB: A fire extinguisher? What brought that on?
DS: My air cleaner caught on fire the other day. The timing was off on the motor and it caused it to back fire and I have one of those Edelbrock low profile air cleaners and it has the foam that you keep in the grill and it caught on fire for about five minutes. It was quite an experience. My friend ran across the street and ended up getting a rag trying to get it put out. But, it wouldn’t go out right then. We sat there and it took us quite some time. You know, that’s part of hot roddin’. You’re livin’ on the edge, you know.
TNB: I’m sure you get some guys that want to race you.
DS: Well, I was down on Broadway one night. This was a couple of years ago now. I had parked in front of the Hard Rock and I had my Uncle with me and I had went in to get a bite to eat. I had come out and I was workin’ on my car. I was settin’ the timin’ and makin’ sure everything was good. My Uncle was holdin’ the wires to my timing light and I had just gottin’ my timin’ light adjusted and got my timing all fixed and right when I did that he had just got the wires all caught in the alternator and broke it right after I got it all tuned. Luckily, I just got it tuned. If it had broke before that then that would have been it and I would have been in trouble. As we were workin’ on it, this couple walks out and they must have been from up north somewhere. They were real “Yankee.” They come out and they were drivin’ a 66 Cobra. It was one of those kit cars. It was fire engine red. Of course, my Camaro is red too. I guess he had been drinkin’ a little bit. The first thing he said was, “What you got there? A little 350?” I said “No sir, it’s a 383 stroker, forged. Dark pro 1 engine!” I had dark pro one heads on it. It was a hydraulic roller motor. I mean it’s popped up. I mean it wasn’t stock. Of course, he had some toys of his own in the Cobra that he was drivin’. He had a big block in it and after his little smart ass remark he jumps in his car and he cranks it up. He had those electric cut outs on his muffler where he could flip a switch and it was like he was runnin’ open headers. He didn’t realize it, but I had electric cut outs too. So, he flips his switch on and he’s got his car loud and what not. Well, I flipped mine on and mine it is just as loud or louder. He’s turnin’ his head and all shakin’ up and getting his game face on and telling his wife to buckle up and he takes off and we follow him. Well, he pulls out into the wrong lane and he is oncoming traffic.
TNB: Not a good way to start.
DS: He had apparently been drinkin’ and didn’t know where he was. He had never been to Music City and he had got his car down behind this bus. I told him, ‘You’re takin’ a chance bein’ in a place you’ve never been before with a Hot Rod. Those things are undependable and you never know when you are going to be broke down.” He said, “Ah, hell, we’ll be alright.” I told him, “Yeah, well I know every tow service in town if you do break down or somethin’.” Anyway this is right before he took off.
TNB: Just trying to be helpful, right?
DS: I was being friendly and he was the one being kind of a smart ass. Us guys down here are all about southern hospitality. Anyway he pulls out and he is in the wrong lane and we laid back a little bit just to see where he was goin’. Well, I was still testing everything on my car making sure everything is okay. I was checkin’ my gears and I had it down in first. I have a converter down in my car. I can rip ‘it up to about 1300 before it starts pullin’. It’s an automatic. I put that stall in there .He has a standard transmission in that Cobra. So, we follow him and he gets on Hermitage Street and we kind of play a little bit on the road. Well, I motioned for him, “Just stop, let’s do a dig. Let’s do a different stop.”
TNB: I’m sure he was paying attention.
DS: We get up there to that first light on Hermitage Street across from the railroad tracks and we line em up and we’re sittin’ there waitin’ for the light to turn green. I’ve got my stall. I revved up to about 3200 and I’m sittin’ there brakin’, you know, power brakin’ and we take off. I got Mickey Thompson A/T streets on my car and it don’t take much of a burn out to get them things hot. I was ready. He had some trick of his own. I mean, his car wasn’t stock by no means. We hit the green light and we were about dead even but when I caught second gear, I start pulling away from him and I look in my rear view mirror and I see him.
TNB: He probably didn’t like that.
DS: He starts coming unglued! He’s slappin’ the steering wheel He’s getting’ all upset. His wife’s slappin’ him and he’s slappin’ her. I tell you what, he’s pissed off and we beat him through the 1/8 mile and I’m stopped. He keeps on goin’. I tried to get his attention because you know if you keep goin’ down Hermitage, you end up in the bad part of town. I mean not many lights and he was in an open coupe and he had no top on his Cobra. I told him, “Go back toward the light!” He couldn’t hear me, so, they end up driving into the dark. I looked at my Uncle and said “ Hey, we’re goin’ back to civilization. I don’t know where they’re goin’ but, we’re goin’ back to town.” So, we never saw him again. I mean that was it. We ended up going back home.
TNB: Would you like to race on a drag strip?
DS: You know, I have never raced my car at the drag strip. I would like to just pull up to the track and get staged and just run it and see what it will do. I have never had a successful run at the track with my car. I have always had problems. I went to Union Hill drag strip up here in Goodlettsville. I was already to go and I was staged and right when I gave it gas when it turned green, my throttle cable broke. The guy that was lighting me up flipped out! He said, “what are you doin’?” I said “I can’t move. My throttle cable broke.” I put it in neutral and he pushed me out of the way. I rolled out of there and I had people stop and try to give me a lift. I ended up calling a friend of mine. I went to the parts store and I fixed it right there at the track and I drove it home. If it would have been somethin’ else, I would have had to call a wrecker or somethin’. For the most part, I can take care of anything on it.
TNB: One more thing. If there’s anybody you could work with in town, who would it be?
DS: You know, there are so many people in this town. I hate to say one person and then upset somebody else for me not mentioning them. That’s such a tough question. It’s like a family affair with the music business. You almost have to have your hand in every part of it to be successful.
– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN