10 songs about truckers and trucking – Part 2

So many good things were left out of the recent first offering that here’s a second helping of songs about truckers and trucking, including two very different takes on the same track, some thoughts about female drivers and a final track that needs, and has, no introduction or commentary (you may be relieved to hear). Update: Thanks to reader Pat Chappelle we have been able to sort our, ‘Mother Truckers‘, from our, ‘Bad Mother Truckers‘, and our Eric Church from our Billy Joe Shaver.  So here is Eric Church with ‘Bad Mother Trucker’, with the appropriate lyrics.  Cheers, Pat. 

1 Tom Waits – ‘Phantom of the 309’  Written by Red Sovine, a song in which  Tom has an encounter with a legendary and ghostly hero and lives to tell the tale (some lovely upright bass by the way with Waits at his storytelling best).  A truck stop owner in the know offers the following advice after Tom receives a curious coin,

“So here son, ” he said to me, “get
yourself another cup of coffee, it’s on the
house, you see I want you to hang on
to that dime, yea you hang on to that
dime as a kind of souvenir, a
souvenir of Big Joe and Phantom 309″

2 Red Sovine – ‘Phantom of the 309’  The author, namechecked by Waits above, provides his own slightly more mainstream version – and completes the story whilst giving us the correct pronunciation of ‘sem-eye’

‘There was a busload of kids, comin’ from town
And they were right in the middle when Big Joe topped the hill
It could have been slaughter, but he turned his wheel
Well, Joe lost control, went into a skid
And gave his life to save that bunch a kids’


3 Jim Croce – ‘Speedball Tucker’  Croce’s tale of a man who is fool enough to drive a rig no-one else would touch in a way no-one else would.  Last seen in a blaze of headlights 10 feet behind an innocent victim on the middle lane of a motorway near you.  Speedball Tucker  – probably a euphemism for Stupid Fucker?

‘And they call me Speedball
Speedball Tucker
Terror of the highways
And all them other truckers
Will tell you that the boy is mad
To be drivin’ a rig like that’.


4 Glen Campbell – ‘I Love My Truck’  Clean looking Mr Campbelll (love that shirt collar) recounts a tale of mechanophilia (or something similar) that would grace a JG Ballard novel or a Cronenberg film;  that would be some trio but it takes all sorts,

‘I love my truck
It’s right outside
I ain’t got much luck
But I sure got a ride
It don’t matter who lived
It don’t matter who lied
I’ve got my truck right by my side

5 Eric Church – ‘Bad Mother Trucker’  Church slips the finger to trucker machismo and warns us not to underestimate women drivers, even if their trucks are pink.  Anything a man can do it seems they can do better.

‘She drove an ’81 Peterbilt 18-wheeler
Jet black with pink mud flaps
It was a mean piece of metal with lightning in the pedal
Thunder comin’ out the back
And them boys would chuckle when they saw her buckle
Herself in the captain’s seat
But nobody was laughin’ when she’d go to passin’
Smilin’ at them real sweet’

Just in case you don’t quite catch the chorus, here’s a little help.

Bad mother, bad mother, bad mother, bad mother, bad mother
Bad mother, bad mother, bad mother, bad mother
Bad mother, bad mother, bad mother trucker, baby
(Bad mother) bad mother trucker, baby
(Bad mother) yeah, she’s bad
(Bad mother) she’s a bad mother trucker
(Bad mother) bad mother trucker, baby
(Bad mother) she’s a bad mother trucker, baby
(Bad mother) she’s my bad mother trucker, baby
(Bad mother)
(Bad mother)
(Bad mother)
(Bad mother)
(Bad mother)
(Bad mother) she’s a bad mother trucker, baby
(Bad mother) she’s a bad mother trucker, baby
(Bad mother)’

Got it??

6 Townes van Zandt – ‘White Freightliner Blues’  Van Zandt with his own take on trucks highways and the need to ramble  – accompanied by some great violin work.  Perhaps he should go out to the highway and watch those trucks go by with, ‘Mama’.  Probably a song about the kind of guy that you decide, on balance, not to give a lift even if its raining.

‘I’m goin’ out on the highway
Listen to them big trucks whine
I’m goin’ out on the highway
Listen to them big trucks whine’

7 Red Simpson & Junior Brown – ‘Nitro Express’ Revisiting the classic 1953 film, ‘Wages of Fear’, here’s another tale of jeopardy with a potentially explosive finish as a runaway truck heads for town.

‘Well, I was drivin’ off the top when she jarred and the driveshaft broke,
Started pumpin’ up the brakes, saw ’em going in a big cloud of smoke.
To keep ‘er upright …I knew I had to do my best,
Against a runaway bomb, they call the Nitro Express’.

8 Joe Ely – ‘White Line Fever’  Joe Ely ponders what makes a man travel from coast to coast when he can give no reason.  At least, unlike Tom Hanks, he can do it in a truck.  Complete with dreadful film poster and what seems to be a prototype space shuttle,

‘I wonder just what makes a man keep pushing on
What makes me keep on hummin’ this old highway song
I’ve been from coast to coast a hundred times before
I ain’t found one single place where I ain’t been before’.


9 Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers  – ‘Truck Driving Girl’  Balham’s finest offer some advice regarding the purchase of used trucks. Mother Trucker meet Truck Driving Girl.

‘She’s a tire-spinning, gear-grinding
Clutch-burning, back-firing, paint-trading
Red-lining, over-heating, throttle-stomping
Truck driving girl, yeah’

10 Little Feat – ‘Willin”  Needs no words of mine!

‘Driven every kind of rig that’s ever been made
Driven the back roads so I wouldn’t get weighed
And if you give me weed, whites and wine
And you show me a sign
I’ll be willin’, to be movin’



Yet more trucks!

About Gordon Sharpe 117 Articles
Retired music fan longing to get back to the Lakes and hoping to visit Scotland before much longer - somehow South Cheshire just doesn't cut it. Still seeking the grail in terms of a convincing description of what Americana really is but really enjoying the search. And still wondering when Kenny Rogers will get his just deserts


    • Hi Malcolm

      Fair comment – but is it about trucks and trucking? Is it just about the life and times of a travelling itinerant? Having just re-read the lyrics I am not sure. Having looked up the phrase ‘Keep on Trucking’ I got this definition – ‘to continue to do something that that is ordinary and boring’ . Theres no real mention in the lyrics of any particular kind of vehicle – got to admit it’s a great song but generally I wanted to stay away from the obvious or more popular candidates – ‘Drug Store Truck Driving Man’, also got a mention but again to me it seems to be about a type of person not about actually driving the things.

      Its good fun debating it though isnt it! Maybe theres a part three in there somewhere?

  1. Ummm, I think you have your plates confused — the Billy Joe Shaver clip is a completely different song (‘Mother Trucker’) from the Eric Church one (‘Bad Mother Trucker’) referred to…

    • You’re right Pat the lyrics I have incorrectly quoted are from the Eric Church song Bad Mother Trucker and I should have paid more attention to the BAD part of the title

      Mother Trucker is the song BJS is singing – though I will say in my defence that having spent a good while trying I am unable to find any credits or lyrics or where BJS might have recorded it. The You tube clip indicates that it came from the 1996 album Highway of Life – but it seems it doesn’t.

      Any further clues would be welcome

      Hope you enjoyed the rest of it though ?

      • The first review of Highway of Life on Amazon solves the problem here: “The first bonus comes right at the start, as track 1 is not as listed, but an uptempo opener called “Mother Trucker” (3m 40s). The listed running order then moves down 1 place to fill spots 2 – 12.” [Sad to see BJS has just joined the lengthening list of losses for 2020.]
        I always enjoy lists, even when I don’t necessarily concur with them (wouldn’t life be boring without diversity).
        I’ll give you an alternative 10, of tracks not already mentioned…
        • Roll Truck Roll — Terry Allen
        • I Like Trucks — Kendel Carson
        • Semi Truck — Commander Cody
        • 18 Wheels — Norton Buffalo
        • Truck Stop Girl — The Byrds
        • The Truck Song — Lyle Lovett
        • Henry — New Riders of the Purple Sage
        • (The Texas Kid’s) Retirement Run — Alvin Crow & the Pleasant Valley Boys
        • Widowmaker — Neal Casal
        • Diesel Smoke Dangerous Curves — Little Willies

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