10 songs about truckers and trucking – Part One

Here are 10 songs about truckers and trucking, hopefully without a dodgy bro-country reference in sight.  The myth of the road is part of American folklore but here in the UK and especially here in Cheshire we know a thing or two – ERF, Foden.  Legendary.

1 Ewan McColl and Peggy Seeger – ‘Driver’s Song’. Daddy of them all McColl here, there and everywhere and blocking a road right in front of you no doubt.  Bit worried that he built Nuclear power stations though, always thought that was a specialist job.

‘We built a hundred airfields
In the snow, and wind, and rain
Built atomic power-stations
More dam’s than I can name
We’ve ploughed through rock and swampland
Moved mountains by the load
Now we’re going nice and steady boys
Diggin’ up the road’

2  The Dubliners: ‘Champion at Keeping Them Rolling‘. Quintessential Irish singers manage to get a word in about Shap – the legendary high spot on the Cumbrian A6 where people could be snowed in for days whilst apparently making the most of it in the local memorial hall, ministered to by the WVS.  Tehachapi, Tonapah, Tucumcari, Tuscon – no comparison.  Does sound a bit familiar though?

‘I’ve sat in the cabin and broiled in the sun
Been snowed up on Shap on the Manchester run
I’ve crawled through the fog with me twenty two ton
Of fish that was stinking like blazes’.

3 Harry Chapin – ‘30,000 Pounds of Bananas’. Chapin tells how the driver got a bumper shot of potassium whilst driving a truck into Scranton Pennsylvania down a notorious hill,

‘And he sideswiped nineteen neat parked cars,
Clipped off thirteen telephone poles,
Hit two houses, bruised eight trees,
And Blue-Crossed seven people.
It was then he lost his head’.

4 Corb Lund – ‘Truck Got Stuck’. The truck did indeed get stuck and much fun was had by all trying to get it out. It may well still be there?

‘The Chev got stuck and the Ford got stuck
Got the Chev unstuck when the Dodge showed up
But the Dodge got stuck in the tractor rut
Which eventually pulled out the Ford’.

5 Taj Mahal – ‘6 Days on the Road’. Never did a man sound so damn happy to get home again.  This track just bounces along like an eighteen-wheeler with dodgy springs.  Just listen to the Stones making an absolute mess of it elsewhere on YouTube and you’ll understand why trucks never run well on rocks.

‘Well I pulled outta Pittsburgh
A rollin’ down that Eastern seaboard
I got my Diesel wound up
And she’s a runnin’ like never before’.

6 Fred Eaglesmith – ‘I Wanna Buy Your Truck’. And to be fair if he does then who among us would say no.  Yes sir, Mr Eaglesmith. I’ll throw in a whole tank of petrol just for you! Whilst I approve of freshening up at the end of the day I’m not sure that this is going to be a career move?

‘When I get to the ocean
I’m going to drive right in
And when it stops
I’m going to get out and swim’.

7 Richard Shindell – ‘Kenworth of My Dreams’. In my experience, an easier man to listen to than interview but he seems to have the right kind of dreams, though hasn’t quite found the right radio station yet.

‘But sometimes late at night
Out on some interstate
I hear those sad country songs
True love found, true love gone
Lately, I just turn the damn thing off’.

8 Leon Russell – ‘Truck Driving Man’. Leon in his Hank Wilson hat hits town and with hamburgers, waitresses, coffee, old songs and a jukebox; there’s not a cliché left unsung on Terry Fells 1954 classic, sung at some time by just about everybody who was anybody.

‘I stopped at a roadhouse in Texas it was a little place called Hamburger Dan’s
And I heard that old jukebox a playin’ a song about a truck drivin’ man
Pour me another cup of coffee for it is the best in the land
I’ll put a nickel in the jukebox and play the Truck Drivin’ Man’.

9 Son Volt – ‘Looking at the World Through a Windshield’. Hardly a boost for the environment but an explanation for all that crap lying around on the M6.  Some of which landed on my head as I motorcycled to London!

‘Well, long strips of rubber that you see
Were burnt off of this rig by the likes of me
And they’ll rot along the highways in this land

I’m gonna write my name in this diesel smoke
And let the ones that come along behind me choke
And try to keep this pace I’m setting anytime that they can’.

 

10 Commander Cody – ‘Mama Hated Diesels So Bad’. Nobody does maudlin quite like this band so here you go, something to spoil your day and your lungs with the tale of the wife left behind for the diesel truck and the open road right after her wedding day. Heart-rending stuff.

‘Mama hated Diesels so bad,
I guess I knew it had something to do with Dad,
The first time I saw her cry, was when one of those things went by,
Mama hated Diesels so bad’.

Author: Gordon Sharpe

Music fan for more than 50 years and I think it gets better than ever - I love the Americana scene.

11 thoughts on “10 songs about truckers and trucking – Part One”

  1. Steve Earle . Home to Houston, great song about Iraq.”With a bulletproof screen on the hood of my truck
    And a Bradley on my back door”. A Bradley being an armoured vehicle of course.

    1. Hi Matt and Mitch

      The straightforward answer would be that there was never any plan to list the originals – it was never intended to be that specific – it is after all only a bit of fun. In the case of 6 days on the road Taj Mahal’s version is, for me, far and away the best I have ever heard. In terms of originals there are some versions that are performed by the writer and yes there are some ‘cover’ versions – hopefully all of interest to listeners and readers. As with many of these articles they are often good conversation starters – as with the suggestion about Steve Earle and ‘Home to Houston’ above.

      Do you have any favourites that I might have included?

      1. I would have put Dave Dudley’s version of “Six Days On The Road.” That is by far the best version, not just in my opinion, but ask any truck driver. That baritone guitar IS the sound of a truck hitting the highway. I could go on, but we would be debating each other to our graves. Thanks for getting back with me.

        1. I first heard the Taj Mahal version when it came out on the, Fill Your Head with Rock, album – so pretty much 50 years ago and as well as being great it has a huge amount of sentimental value so perhaps I dont judge it in the way I might judge other music.

          No problem getting back to you, we all love feedback – as I expect you know from your own writing.

          I hope you find somethins to like in part ii but sorry no Dave Dudley in there – now if I can squeeze in a third helping……… ?

  2. Truck Got Stuck… a fine song! Has accompanied me on many road trips here in Sweden, where snow is most likely that which you’ll get stuck in!
    But in the list so far, I’m missing Willin’, surely one of the greatest trucking songs (and indeed songs in any genre) of all time?!?!

  3. Reading these lists, I am struck by how they are all so, well… human. Where is the species diversity? In an effort to redress the balance, I give you: ‘Moving Right Along’ from the O.S.T. of the Muppet Movie (“A frog and a bear, seeing America!” and then, “Ah, a bear in his natural habitat – a Studebaker!”) Wokka! Wokka!

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