Sunday, October 1, 2017

Eleven Trucking Songs

Inspired by A Thousand Miles from Nowhere, which  alternated between writing about driving big trucks and listening to country are eleven country songs about driving trucks!  There are more out there,  but I've collected these over the years. The ones I've chosen touch on various aspects of the trucking life -- adventure, loneliness,  camaraderie, and danger. 

1. "Eastbound and Down",  Jerry Reed

East bound and down, loaded up and trucking
We're gonna do what they say can't be done
We got a long way to go, and a short time to get there
I'm eastbound, just watch ol' Bandit run!

This will easily be the most recognized song on this list, as it was written for and used in Smokey and the Bandit, a movie about two truckers bootlegging Coors, trying to get away from an indefatigable and utterly obscene Texas sheriff.   It's a fun song to sing driving through country backroads.  Note: the video above uses the music from the movie, set to clips from the movie itself.

2. "Six Days on the Road", Dave Dudley

Dudley's voice gives this song a lot of...oomph.  His delivery is that of a 20th century cowboy, full of guts and black coffee.  A rock version of this was done by a trucking band in 1987.

The ICC is a checkin' on down the line
I'm a little overweight, and my logbook's way behind
But nothin' bothers me tonight
I can dodge all the scales all right
Six days on the road, and I'm gonna make it home tonight!

3. "Roll On", Alabama
This song about the wife and children of a driver who spends most of the week away, but calls in nightly until he goes missing during a wintry storm, always resonated strongly with me as the child of a driver.
It's Monday mornin', he's kissin' Mama goodbye
 -- he's up and gone with the sun
Daddy drives an eighteen wheeler, and he's off on a Midwest run
Three sad faces gather around Mama, askin' when Daddy's coming home
Daddy drives an eighteen wheeler, and they miss him when he's gone 
Ah, but he calls `em every night, and tells them that he loves them
He taught `em this song to sing --
"Roll on, highway, roll on along -- roll on Daddy, until you get back home."

4."Big Wheels in the Moonlight", Dean Seals
A song about the youthful craving for escape and adventure that leads many to driving.

I came from a town that was so small, 
you look both ways you could see it all
All I wanted was some way out -- every evenin' I'd slip into town
Stand around by the caution light,  watch the big trucks rollin by
For me, it was a beautiful sight....big wheels in the moonlight.

5. "Speedball Trucker", Jim Croce
Croce wouldn't be described as a country singer, but his "Speedball Trucker" and "Rapid Roy" aren't out of place in its ranks.

One day I looked into my rearview mirror
And coming up from behind
Was a Georgia state policeman
And a hundred dollar fine
He looked me in the eye as he was writin' me up
He said, "Driver, you been flyin --
" -- ninety five is the route you were on, it was not the speed limit sign"

6. "Tombstone Every Mile", Dick Curless

Lamenting a stretch of road in Maine notorious for claiming the lives of drivers. Included here in part for its age, and in part because driving is often dangerous work -- especially in winter, or working around mountains.

7."Bud the Spud", Stompin' Tom Conners
Canadians have truck drivers, too!  And...they sing about potatoes.

It's Bud the Spud! from the bright red mud
Rollin' down the highway smilin'
The spuds are big on the back of Bud's rig
And they're from Prince Edward Island!

It is the most exciting song about potatoes you will ever hear.

8. "Chicken Lights and Chrome", Jesse Watson

Not an old song, but sharing the pride some drivers (particularly owner-operators) have in their rigs' physical appearance and maintenance.  Chicken lights refer to the string of lights that run the length of rigs -- or at least, their trailers. As a bonus: the lyrics include "A trucker's favorite song is Alabama's 'Roll On'".

9. "Roll On, Big Mama",  Joe Stampley
A fun, rowdy song about the joys of driving.

The feel of the wheel delivers me
From a life where I don't wanna be
And the diesel smoke with every stroke
Sings a song with every note
And ramblin' is the life I chose
Sittin' here between the doors
The yellow line keepin' time
with the things that's runnin' through my mind

10. Convoy, C.W. McCall

This is the other big trucking song people know,  and even though it's silly enough that I almost didn't include it here, I will still enthusiastically sing it if it comes on the radio.

We laid a strip for the Jersey shore and  prepared to cross the line
We could see the bridge was lined with bears, but I didn't have a dog-gone dime
I said "Pigpen, this here's the Rubber Duck -- we just ain't gonna pay no toll!"
So we crashed the gate goin' 98, an' I said let them truckers roll -- ten-four! 

11. "Driving My Life Away",  Rhett Atkins
Another fast song, but one which the title nearly says more than the lyrics -- though the verses hint that driving is just constant racing and getting nowhere,  with the singer wondering if there's something better out there.

Bonus: "Truck Driving Man", Jimmy Martin.  Martin is an early country legend, the king of bluegrass.

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