'Keep On Truckin,'' The Hippie Slogan R. Crumb Regrets Coining

By | May 26, 2019

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Left: A 'Keep On Truckin' print currently available from crumbproducts.com. Right: Blind Boy Fuller. Sources: crumbproducts.com; public domain/Wikimedia Commons

The catchphrase "Keep On Truckin,'" ripped from an R. Crumb comic, is one of those hippie slogans you've seen everywhere. But despite its ever-presence, do we really know what it means? It seems to be a pretty simple motivational message akin to keep on keepin' on, or or get 'er done, or hang in there. Whatever you do, don't ask R. Crumb why it caught on -- he's both mystified, and irked by its popularity.

The phrase grew into a cultural phenomenon, without Crumb's consent, and what's more -- it really meant something quite different before Crumb got ahold of it.

Keep On Truckin’

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Source: (pinterest.com)

Keep on truckin’ is one of those phrases that feels as if it birthed itself, with no creator, like Athena from the head of Zeus. The phrase was popularized by underground cartoonist R. Crumb in 1968 with a one-page comic. Since then the phrase has appeared on posters, in songs, on bumper stickers and t-shirts, but what does it mean?

Is “keep on truckin’” just a simple phrase that means hang in there or is there something more to it? After all, there are songs calling for audiences to keep truckin’, and there have been lawsuits over the phrase, so it must hold some weight, right?

And while truck drivers have embraced the phrase, it's important to point out that there isn't a truck in any of Crumb's pictures. Those who think the slogan is about actually driving a truck are probably taking it too literally.