With the holidays approaching, it’s a great time to relax and lighten things up. There is no better way to celebrate our industry this season than to reflect on some of the great trucking tunes and flicks out there. Here’s what’s on my playlist this year.
Best trucking tunes
Johnny Cash, I’ve Been Everywhere (1996)
This song was originally written in Australia, adapted to North America by Canadian Hank Snow, and made famous by the Man in Black. Any upbeat tune that mentions 92 cities including Ottawa and Toronto in four verses gets my vote as a trucking classic. The pedal hits the metal every time it’s on the radio.
C.W. McCall, Convoy (1976)
Every trucker knows the words to this novelty tune that tells the tale of truck drivers protesting government regulations on their CB radios. It taught me that “swindle sheets” are logbooks, “chicken coops” are weigh stations, and “bears” are the cops.
Kathy Matteo, 18 Wheels and a Dozen Roses (1988)
Country music is not my thing but this song about a driver named Charlie who’s on his final run after “30 years of drivin’ up and down the interstate” really hits home. For all his efforts, Charlie gets a gold watch, which “doesn’t seem like a whole lot” to songwriters Gene and Paul Nelson. Hell, I agree 100%!
Grateful Dead, Truckin’ (1970)
I’ve used this tune instead of a bagpiper to parade in the head table at industry events. In 1997, Truckin’ was recognized by the U.S. Library of Congress as a national treasure. By the way: the “Do Dah man” in the lyrics is a fictional character created by artist Robert Crumb who told people to “keep on truckin’”.
Stompin’ Tom Connors, Bud the Spud (1969)
This Canadian classic was written about Tom’s trucker buddy Bud Roberts who crisscrossed the country hauling potatoes from Prince Edward Island. In 1994 the song was turned into an illustrated children’s book featuring Bud the truck driver and his dog. My favorite line: “Yeah, the cops have been looking for the son of a gun, who’s been ripping the tar off the 401.”
Best trucking flicks
The Irishman (2019)
This fictionalized crime story revolves around Frank Sheeran (Robert DeNiro), a union truck driver who sells product to a local mobster off the back of his truck. Eventually, Frank is introduced to Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) and his battles in trucking and the union. This movie is fascinating because as a naïve kid out of university I cut my teeth at Yellow Freight during a nasty strike where for the first time I heard our industry’s mantra, “if you got it, a truck brought it.”
White Line Fever (1975)
The plot revolves around good-guy trucker C.J. who tries to organize other truckers to stand up to a large corporation that wants them to haul illegal cargo. The movie’s title is significant as it captures one of the many dangers of being a longhaul driver: highway hypnosis, which is an altered state where a driver covers a long distance without remembering it.
The Ice Road (2021)
No list of great trucking movies would be complete without this thriller starring Liam Neeson, who leads truckers on a dangerous mission over frozen lakes to save trapped miners. The critics didn’t like it much but what do they know? The Ice Road is one of the best trucking movies in 40 years and features Mr. Cash singing my Number 1 trucking song.
Christmas Comes to Willow Creek (1987)
Who would think a Hallmark movie would make a list of top trucking flicks? I like it because there’s no seedy side to the story, which reunites the guys who played Bo and Luke from the Dukes of Hazzard as truck drivers hired to deliver Christmas presents to a small town in Alaska. After various setbacks, a holiday miracle occurs and the boys save the day. Another Hallmark happily ever after!
Happy holidays, my friends. I hope you have a holiday season fit for the Hallmark Channel!
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