TORONTO, Ont. - Truckers know about love songs: the job takes us so far from home. It's the days and weeks on the road make love stronger and sweeter. Because there's nothing better than being in love...
TORONTO, Ont. – Truckers know about love songs: the job takes us so far from home. It’s the days and weeks on the road make love stronger and sweeter. Because there’s nothing better than being in love and nothing worse than being 1,000 miles away. Because you count the hours between truck stops and the last phone call home, and then only get to talk for a few minutes, about the kids, about car problems, about the pain-in-the butt dispatcher.
“I was out on the road late at night … I seen my pretty Alice in every headlight”
Leave it to the troubadours like the late Lowell George of Little Feat, who penned the above lines, to explain long-haul romances. Musicians travel the same roads as truckers, experience the same dislocation and loneliness, and share the same sensibilities.
Kathy Mattea’s 1988 hit “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses” touched all the buttons. This is a song about a trucker who’s on his last run and about to retire “to spend the rest of his life with the one he loves.”
And fidelity is not an issue for Dave Dudley, either. In his signature tune “Six Days on the Road,” Dudley makes it clear that he’s a one-woman man: “It seems like a month since I kissed my baby goodbye / I could have a lot of women but I’m not like some of the guys.”
But long distance trucking does have its temptations. In “Truck Stop Girl,” a young trucker has fallen pretty hard for a truck stop waitress. But there are complications. He has a family back home and he’s on his way to break off the affair. Kelly Willis’ version of the Little Feat tune on DeiselOnly records Rig Rock Deluxe will rip your heart out:
“Taillights flickered as he pulled in the truck stop. Same old crowd was hanging out again, tonight. “Fill up my tank while I go check my load. Feels like it’s shifting all around.”
You can tell something dramatic is going to happen. The song continues:
“He was so young. On a ten city run. In love with a truck stop girl. She held out a glass. He said, ‘Have another, this is the last time we can meet.'”
This is a beautiful woman in a beehive hairdo. But, above all, the driver “has integrity” and must do what’s right.
“With her hair piled up high. The look in her eye. Turning a good man’s blood to wine… He went out to the lot. And climbed into his rig. And drove off without tightening down.”
You just know he’s going to go home and confess. (The song doesn’t mention that the wife, herself, has met an interesting guy who drives a Harley and has a Doberman at puppy training classes. She will cite her husband’s indiscretion with the truck stop girl as the beginning of her alienation from him and the basis of her own short-lived affair. The two will be divorced within the year).
Brian Stein of Edmonton, Alta. knows trucking music. His Internet radio station plays nothing else (Gear Jamming Gold, 192 songs in a 8.5-hour rotation, are available at www.virtualtruckroute.com). He suggests the oddball song “Eighteen Wheels Hummin’ Home Sweet Home” by Australian legend Slim Dusty as a case where a man’s obsessive relationship with his truck has precluded any other love interest: “I’m married to my bull dog Mack. No long-legged woman gonna change my mind. She won’t even stand a chance. As long as there’s a road. As long as there’s a load. I’ve got my long distance romance.”
Even weirder is Red Simpson anthropomorphizing trucks in his 1971 hit “I’m a Truck.” Writer Bob Staunton even gave rigs genders:
“Next to a cattle truck? Why couldn’t he put me next to that Little Pink Mack sitting over there? Gosh she’s got pretty mudflaps. And talk about stacked. They’re both chrome.” n