Grand Funk Railroad – We’re An American Band

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This is one of my favorite rock songs and bands.  This song has a bluesy vibe, and Don Brewer sounds like he’s been singing the Blues all of his life. The song has a nice beat, great rhythm, and is just fun to dance to, or hit the road, turn the song up and just drive, drive, drive. Some may find the drum solo at the beginning a little cheesy, but Don held it together and was able to prove that not only was he a great drummer, but a great singer / songwriter as well.

Written by Grand Funk drummer Don Brewer. In our interview, he told us:

“We started out as a trio in 1969. Everybody calls it ‘Heavy Metal,’ but the heavy metal didn’t come around until the ’80s, so we were just a hard rock trio. We were kind of riding along with the FM underground situation, so we were able to make 7-minute, 9-minute songs and we’d get the airplay because that was the in thing to do – we could get whole albums played. As we moved into 1972, FM underground radio was beginning to be very commercial, so they were looking for songs that were 3 minutes 30 seconds long. We needed to go that way. We left our former manager Terry Knight in 1972. We were going through lawsuits and all this crap and we came out with an album that was very different for Grand Funk Railroad called The Phoenix Album. We were lucky to have sort of a semi-hit off that record (Rock ‘N’ Roll Soul), but we knew that the next record had to be something big or the career was going to go down the toilet. We were touring, supporting The Phoenix Album, we were going from town to town, there were lawsuits flying all over the place, it was a very tumultuous time period. I remember lots of discussions in the back of cars going, ‘What are we going to do next?’ Our manager kept saying, ‘Why don’t you just write songs about what you do: you’re out here on the road, you’re going to this hotel, you go to different places, there are people, you come into town…’

So the thought came into my mind, ‘We’re coming to your town, we’ll help you party it down.’ That’s really what we were doing – we were coming into town and we were the party. That’s where the line came from, and the next thought I had was, ‘We’re an American band.’ It wasn’t to wave the flag or anything, it was just simply what we were. It was a true description and it kind of rolled off my mind. I went home and worked on the concept for a while and picked up a guitar; I’m not really a great guitar player, I can play tow-finger chords and that kind of stuff. I worked out the chord structure and I brought it into rehearsal one day and there you go – we just let it go from there. It had a mind of its own.”

The lyrics are about little things that were going on on the road during the Phoenix tour. All of them are true. Don explains the line, “Up all night with Freddie King, I’ve got to tell you, poker’s his thing”:

“Freddie King was the opening act for us, the great Blues guitar player from Texas. It always struck me as funny that he would make his band play poker with him every night. We used to sit in on some of the poker games, and that’s where that line came from. His band, he’d pay them, and then he’d go win all the money back so they were broke and they’d have to keep playing for him – it was a great deal. A lot of people don’t understand the Freddie King part because they don’t know who Freddie King is. Anybody who knows about Freddie King immediately picks it up. People who don’t say, ‘What are you saying, that Focus can’t sing?'”

Regarding the line, “four young chiquitas in Omaha,” Don Brewer told us that it came from a situation where they checked into a hotel in Omaha, Nebraska. “There were four groupies in the lobby waiting to see the band,” he said. “‘Four young chiquitas’ sounded a lot better than ‘four young groupies’ or ‘four young girls.'”

The line, “Sweet Sweet Connie was doing her act” is about Connie Hamzy, a famous groupie known as “Sweet Connie.” Some of her rumored conquests include Brewer, John Bonham, Keith Moon, Huey Lewis, Peter Criss, and Bill Clinton 9when he was governor of Arkansas). This song made her famous, and in 2010 VH1 ran a special about her life. According to Hamzy, she didn’t have “the whole band,” as stated in the lyrics, but she came pretty close – Mark Farner was a holdout.

Brewer sang lead on this. Grand Funk guitarist Mark Farner sang most of their songs, but Don was the lead vocal on songs like “Shinin’ On,” “Walk Like A Man” and “Gimme Shelter.” He and Mark shared vocals on “Some Kind of Wonderful.”

Released in 1973 on their album, “We’re An American Band,” and peaked at #1 in the USA.

Credit: Songfacts.com

 

Song Lyrics – 

Out on the road for forty days
Last night in Little Rock put me in a haze
Sweet, sweet Connie, doin’ her act
She had the whole show and that’s a natural fact
Up all night with Freddie King
I got to tell you, poker’s his thing
Booze and ladies, keep me right
As long as we can make it to the show tonight

We’re an American band
We’re an American band
We’re comin’ to your town
We’ll help you party it down
We’re an American band

Four young chiquitas in Omaha
Waitin’ for the band to return from the show
Feelin’ good, feelin’ right, it’s Saturday night
The hotel detective, he was outta sight
Now these fine ladies, they had a plan
They was out to meet the boys in the band
They said, come on dudes, let’s get it on
And we proceeded to tear that hotel down

We’re an American band
We’re an American band
We’re comin’ to your town
We’ll help you party it down
We’re an American band

We’re an American band
We’re an American band
We’re comin’ to your town
We’ll help you party it down
We’re an American band

We’re an American band
We’re an American band
We’re comin’ to your town
We’ll help you party it down
We’re an American band

We’re an American band
We’re an American band
We’re comin’ to your town
We’ll help you party it down
We’re an American band

We’re an American band, wooo
We’re an American band, wooo
We’re an American band, wooo

9 thoughts on “Grand Funk Railroad – We’re An American Band

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  2. When the guys and I play…we play this one…it’s a fun song to play and listen to. They were huge in their day but that seems to be lost among people. They were selling out huge venues but critics hated them…but the people loved them.

    1. Oh wow, I bet you guys really have fun playing this song. It is fun and has that bluesy sound wrapped in hard rock. Don Brewer’s voice is amazing, I love the way he belts this song out and how much fun the band looks like they are having while playing it.

      I read how the critics disliked them even though they were selling out venues. GFR proved they could hang with the best and they were right up there with the best and had 10 of the greatest hits to prove the critics wrong, and yes, the people loved them and still does. Their music takes me straight back to the ’70s.

      1. My sister got the loco motion single when I was a kid and from then I have listen to them.
        I am doing this voice to text while walking so if something is messed up I’m sorry.

        I love that they pretty much proved the critics wrong and they were huge. The people spoke

      2. My reply didn’t go through…They proved all of the critics wrong…or I replied on the wrong post lol…
        My sister got the Loco Motion single in 74 and I was hooked on them afterward.

        This song is a lot of fun to play when the drummer gets it right.