Truck driving is a pretty lousy job. Never did it myself, but about 10 years ago, Brother J went out and got the proper license for trucks and buses. His first job, driving a Coca Cola distribution truck, was terrible. Long hours, low pay, impossible schedule to maintain, and a lot of physical labor in terms of loading and unloading. His next job, driving charter buses, had even worse hours, and lower pay when you factored in down time on the road between pick-ups, on top of genuinely dangerous schedules that had him driving illegally, in terms of hours worked and speed limits, every day. He never got around to driving a rig based on these two experiences.
It takes a certain kind to drive trucks, and if there's anyone who can tell you about that kind, it's the late country singer, Red Sovine. (The portrait of Red to the left is by the great folk artist, Jesse Wiedel.) Here's a Youtube link to a great TV commercial from the mid-80s for a Sovine compilation. It blows my mind that you could get the collection in cassette, record album, 8-track or compact disc -- that was a very rare window of media types that existed only for a short while back then. I don't remember this collection being advertised -- these type of commercials, I generally associated with Boxcar Willie. I especially like a word from Charlie Dick, Record Executive. Cool stuff!
I'm a sucker for talking songs, particularly talking country songs espousing right-wing politics, love of country and family, sentimental stories about children, ghost stories, trucks, C.B. radio lingo, any mention of "Battle Hymn of the Republic," dead dogs, Jesus, soldiers, Christianity as salvation, Satan in the form of a dark stranger, hippies, and guns. Red nailed a lot of these themes in that earnest, heartfelt way that you're free to take any way you like. Take it seriously? That's cool. Think it's a joke? That's cool, too. Hate it? Entirely acceptable. That's the beauty of stuff like this -- however you feel about it, it goes on existing in its strange little world, with no apology asked for or accepted.
So, without further adieu, three of my favorite Red Sovine songs. I'm also throwing in a bonus track from Dave Dudley, who like Red, chronicled the lonely plight of the long-distance trucker. His song "Rolaids, Doan's Pills and Preparation H" speaks a lot of hard truths about the trucker's life, save I suspect it left out methampetamine and $20 blow jobs in rest-stop parking lots. But it's country music, after all, and some things are better left unsaid.
(What were Doan's pills anyway? I know they were advertised for alleviating back pain, but what kind of pill does that? I suspect this stuff was just low-grade speed and aspirin. Anyone know?)
"Giddyup Go" by Red Sovine
"Phantom 309" by Red Sovine
"Teddy Bear" by Red Sovine
"Rolaids, Doan's Pills and Preparation H" by Dave Dudley
A disclaimer: if the artist, record company or any other entity associated with a song (and that means you, Charlie Dick) has a legal issue with any MP3 appearing on this site, I will remove the link immediately. Not looking to pirate music here – just looking to spread the word.