Trucker Songs: A Current Obsession

I haven't been blogging much or doing other writing because I am currently revising my dissertation and feeling the gloom of being in school for so long with no glimmer of light at the end. I've been in a perpetual dark hallway, bumping and bouncing off the walls, feeling sicker than ever as I look for academic jobs, while trying to get published. Many days I feel like I have zero skills, zero prospects, and zero opportunities. I'm not getting any younger, and there are times when I feel like I have made some very regrettable mistakes. Yet I also know that this is what I want to do, so I'm going to finally get the dissertation done. Then I can think about paying back student loan debt and moving on into the light.

Music has been my saving grace as always. Coming off of a two week sinus infection, I reloaded my MP3 player and put it on shuffle only to be hit with a barrage of old country songs, mostly of the trucker persuasion. I have been spending tons of my time listening to songs about movement and change. Trucker songs are part of my daily music revisions playlist. While I sit at my desk, typing the requisite number of words, or more likely spending an hour on a paragraph, I travel to other places and get out of my head through the songs of truck country luminaries, such as Red Sovine, C.W. McCall, and Jerry Reed.

However, I have a soft spot in my heart for the weirder margins of the genre. As I kid, I heard many of these songs and was clearly indoctrinated by many hours watching Smokey and the Bandit. I still watch it at least once a year, singing along at the top of my lungs to "Eastbound and Down." And yes Jerry Reed is an underrated guitarist and songwriter. In recent years, I have gravitated toward the more interesting and lesser known tracks of Dave Dudley, bizarre numbers like Rod Hart's "C.B. Savage," and the heroically humorous Dick Curless.

Dick Curless, the aptly named Baron of Country Music, had a long career that covered honky tonk and cowboy territory, but ended up firmly entrenched in trucker country. He had a hit in 1965 with "A Tombstone Every Mile" and ended up with twenty-two Top 40 hits. Curless brought a flair for fashion and a larger-than-life sense of humor to the trucker genre, which was already known for its share of characters. He wore an eye patch over his right eye and contributed rocking, funny songs with titles like ""Drag 'Em Off the Interstate, Sock It to 'Em, J.P. Blues" and "Chick Inspector (That's Where My Money Goes)."

Trucker songs are part and parcel of their time period. Few artists write them anymore, opting for the traveling or road song instead. Yet they reach back to a time when the trucking industry was new and exciting. People wanted to get out on the road away from their troubled lives. They still suit this purpose, even as truckers have become less heroic in the public eye. These songs tell good stories with heart and verve. The trucker protagonists transport more than products; they offer a way of life and a way to escape for many stuck at home.

Dick Curless-Chick Inspector (That's Where My Money Goes)

Dick Curless- Drag 'Em Off the Interstate, Sock It to 'Em, J.P. Blues


Popular posts from this blog

The Drive-By Truckers and their Southern Rock Opera: Part Four (The Excesses of Touring and Lessons Learned)