10 Songs about truckers and trucking – part three

The third instalment of this series, and don’t worry it’s the last.  The road may go on forever but this series does not.  Many of these picks are inspired by reader Pat Chappelle (so don’t blame me) and don’t scoff at the last bonus pick – its a classic track and the film is out soon.  I’ve seen the trailer and its great!

1  Terry Allen – ‘Roll Truck Roll’. Terry Allen advises against the perils of entering big boys’ eating houses – something I can sympathise with having had some truly terrifying moments courtesy of the Little Chef chain.  It’s pretty much defunct now – which is a great shame.

Yeah lonely heart wreck hitch hike truck-stop
Ahhh sad café where the people never care
Yeah you think you ordered a big hot beef Sandwich
But you’re the one that’s gonna get eaten in there

2  Commander Cody – ‘Semi Truck’. It’s all go in the world of trucking – broken hearts just don’t cut it – times a wasting and those eyes need to be wide open.

‘Well, here I sit, all alone with a broken heart.
I took three bennies, and my semi-truck won’t start.
Well, I haul my rig, out of San Jose.
I gotta be in Cincinnati Monday morning ‘fore I draw my pay.
Can’t waste no time, in this all-night grill.
I jumped in my Jimmy and I popped some little white pills‘.

3  Norton Buffalo – ‘18 Wheels’Writing these articles is beginning to make me think that America is full of trucks careering down steep hills with desperate drug-addled men at the helm.  Nothing can match those Hell Drivers McGoohan and Baker though, who had the bad boy image all sewn up as far back as 1957.

‘I’m pullin’ twenty tons of wire, I’m rollin’ like my tail’s on fire
Can’t seem to stop, Lord knows how I’m tryin’
I’m rumblin’ down this big old hill
Surely hope that I don’t spill
Cause I gotta keep these here wheels a spinnin’
Till the end of my workin’ day’.

4 The Byrds – ‘Truck Stop Girl’. Lowell George and Bill Payne wrote it but the Byrds had their own version in pretty quick time.  Notable for a real Marmite vocal from Clarence White and a protagonist that perhaps was not cut out for life on the road.  That girl’s decision surely puts him on a one way run to nowhere!

He was the kind of man, do all he could
Above all he had integrity
But he was so young
And on a ten-city run
In love with a truck stop girl

As he went inside, he was merrily greeted
By the girl with whom he was in love
She held out a glass and said, “Have another
This is the last time we can meet”

5 Lyle Lovett – ‘The Truck Song’ Not Lovett’s finest lyric but he redeems it with his performance and that voice.  Love to see him get that hat in the cab though!

‘Well, I went to high school and I was not popular.
Now I am older, and it don’t matter.
Ole Black’s my truck’s name.
She’s held together.
I’ve slept inside her when I was tired’.

6 New Riders of the Purple Sage – ‘Henry’. Classic hippy nostalgia and if Henry wasn’t an honorary fifth member of the Furry Freak Brothers then I’ll eat my hat  – unless Fat Freddy’s Cat and his dodgy toilet habits get there first.

‘Every year along about this time it all goes dry
There’s nothing round for love or money
That’ll get you high
Henry got pissed off and said he’d run to Mexico
To see if he could come back holdin’
Twenty keys of gold’

7  Alvin Crow & the Pleasant Valley Boys-‘(The Texas Kid’s) Retirement Run’. What a video – words are scarcely enough.  I couldn’t find any lyrics online to this Tiny Skaggs tune but it seems that the Texas Kid is hard on the heels of Henry, waving politely at every officer and heading toward his final pay-day with that,

‘Evil load out of Mexico’.

8 Neal Casal – ‘Widowmaker’.  The code of the road saves young lives as the ‘Widowmaker’ takes another victim and Wanda gets the call she’s always dreaded.

Just a few more miles and Bill
Was on that mountain range
Where just ahead
A pick-up full of kids
Blocked both the lanes
Bill hit the air and then he felt
That trailer slide and sway
And the pick-up driver made no move
To help him clear the way
He just had time to think of Wanda
As he fought the wheel
And Billy Mack was buried under
Twenty tons of steel
One life for ten
Has always been a diesel driver’s code‘.

9 Little Willies -‘Diesel Smoke Dangerous Curves’. Mountain roads, bends, Diesel smoke, last night’s beer and a pretty little waitress.  There’s only one outcome – do these people never learn?

‘I wish I’d left the women alone
But it’s too late I’m already gone
I got myself into this fix
All because I tried to mix
Diesel smoke, dangerous curves
Diesel smoke, dangerous curves’.

10 Kathy Mattea – ‘Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Red Roses’. All good things come to an end and it seems Charlie’s managed to avoid the bananas, dangerous curves and steep un-braked descents – and by the looks of it the pretty waitresses.  All’s well that ends well – thank the Lord!

‘Charlie’s got a gold watch
Don’t seem like a whole lot
After thirty years of drivin’
Up and down the interstate
But Charlie’s had a good life
And Charlie’s got a good wife
And after tonight she’ll no longer’

The Wurzels – ‘I want to be an Eddy Stobart Driver’. Here’s a bonus  – and I promise that’s the end of the series.  Here’s proof positive that all the best trucking songs are home-grown – a bit like Wurzels really.

‘I want to be an Eddie Stobart Driver
That’s exactly what I want to be
And if I can’t be an Eddie Stobart Driver
I’m going home to BURN MY HGV’.

More Trucks and Truckers

About Gordon Sharpe 93 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

9 Comments

  1. Hey, thanks for the heads up there, glad to have been of assistance! Brightened my morning in fact, as I’m currently ensconced in hospital, undergoing chemotherapy for leukaemia (which, touch wood, seems to be going well). I’d not seen that video of the Alvin Crow track before — it took me back to the tail end of 1980 when I was hitching across the States from Washington to San Francisco, via Austin where I was lucky enough to arrive on the day Alvin was gigging at a little club nearby the YMCA. It snowed that night, apparently the first snow many of the audience had ever seen, and it was funny watching their reaction to it in the intermission between his two (stormin’) sets. Later, after camping a few nights under the stars with an old friend in Santa Cruz, I got a lift in one of those big mobile home/touring bus type vehicles, up the beautiful coast road through Monterey, from a guy who turned out to be the bass player in Norton Buffalo’s band. I didn’t get to see Norton then, but the last gig I’d seen in London before I left was Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen, with Norton playing that wonderful gobiron (as my harmonica-playing friend Mitt likes to call it).

    By the way, it was mooted that I might like to do a “top 10” list of BAME artists who have influenced modern Americana, and I would love to do so, but my medical situation has rather got in the way of that. Perchance I may have time to consider it whilst I’m lying in bed though. Meanwhile, keep up the good work, your daily snippets are even more welcome now!)

  2. You never know when you write something how it might land or who with, but if me or the site has brightened your day in any way then it’s very pleasing. I have experience in the last few months of a very close family member being in hospital for a major operation and it went well but was a very, very difficult time. I am glad to hear that things are going well for you and I really like your list idea, so if and when you feel you have time wing it this way and I would be very happy to turn it into an article as best I can. I spend a lot of time trying to think of ‘ten’ articles, your suggestion is novel and interesting and I’d love to get my teeth into it. Any further ideas are welcome.

    Pat, seasons greetings and I hope your treatment continues to go well.

    • Thanks. Actually, I could probably do you a top 10 of hospital/sickness songs too, that’d be novel (if not uplifting).

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