Semi-trucks came into existence around the late 19th century and early 20th century. As the story goes, car manufacturers sold their products to people who often lived far from one another in those days.
Due to this, they needed a way to move their products over great distances. Yes, car manufacturers could have just driven their cars to their customers. However, that would’ve depreciated their products by leaving them in a non-pristine state.
Instead, car manufacturers started moving their products using semi-trucks. Since then, semi-trucks have become a cornerstone of the American economy, as shown by their use for carrying most American freight. Unsurprisingly, people have released a fair number of songs on this topic, some of which are better than the rest.
Here is our opinion of ten of the best 18-wheeler songs ever released:
10. “Give Me 40 Acres (To Turn This Rig Around)” – The Willis Brothers
Semi-trucks are more difficult to drive than cars. Moreover, their size means they have more impact on their surroundings. As a result, it isn’t hard to imagine a semi-truck driver’s mistake resulting in a terrible mess for themselves and others. “Give Me 40 Acres (To Turn This Rig Around)” describes one such incident that is more amusing for the listener than for the song’s subject.
9. “Six Days On the Road” – Dave Dudley
Loneliness is one of the most talked-about issues for semi-truck drivers. That makes it easy to imagine why the narrator in “Six Days On the Road” is eager to head home to his significant other. This theme comes up in numerous songs of this kind. Fortunately, “Six Days On the Road” isn’t one of the ones intent on wringing tears out of the listener by going for a tragic ending.
8. “Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler)” – Alabama
“Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler)” tells the story of a man who supports his family by driving a semi-truck. There is a tense moment when the lyrics reveal that his vehicle has jackknifed in a snow bank. However, Alabama decided to go with a more uplifting narrative than that, thus resulting in a notable hit in 1984.
7. “Drivin’ My Life Away” – Eddie Rabbitt
“Drivin’ My Life Away” sees Eddie Rabbitt singing about the experience of a semi-truck driver. It was meant for a movie called Roadie that never received much interest. Luckily, the people involved recognized that “Drivin’ My Life Away” had more potential, which is why they gave it a release outside of that initial context. Thanks to that, the song rose to the number-one position on the U.S. country charts in 1980. Otherwise, it might have sunk into oblivion along with the movie.
6. “Last of the Cowboys” – Tony Justice
Famously, Tony Justice is a semi-truck driver. As a result, it seems safe to say that he has a fair amount of insight into the lifestyle. The comparison of semi-truck drivers to cowboys might seem ridiculous on initial consideration. Still, it does make some sense when one thinks about it. Cowboys are called this because they are responsible for moving cattle over vast geographical distances. Nowadays, cowboys are still involved in the business. Even so, semi-truck drivers play an important role in moving cattle from place to place.
5. “Bud the Spud” – Stompin’ Tom Connors
Despite the name, “Bud the Spud” isn’t about a potato. Instead, it tells the tale of a semi-truck driver who transports potatoes from Prince Edward Island, which is one of Canada’s ten provinces. Chances are good interested individuals can guess that the place is famous for the potato farming that still makes up a considerable part of its modern economy. Stompin’ Tom Connors wrote “Bud the Spud” about someone he knew.
That is perhaps unsurprising considering the man’s background. For those curious, Connors lived in Prince Edward Island as a child with his adoptive family for a short time. Subsequently, he spent more than a decade hitchhiking across Canada, so it isn’t hard to imagine how he might have come to know such an individual.
4. “On the Road Again” – Willie Nelson
Technically, “On the Road Again” is about Willie Nelson’s experience as a touring musician. Still, there are enough similarities for it to qualify for this list. Indeed, semi-truck drivers can make friends out on the road, particularly since modern telecommunications have made it easier for them to communicate with others than ever before.
3. “East Bound and Down” – Jerry Reed
“East Bound and Down” has the distinction of being Jerry Reed’s signature song. Interested individuals might know it because it was the theme of Smokey and the Bandit, which remains one of the most influential movies ever released by the American film industry. The song’s title is CB radio jargon, which still sees widespread use by modern semi-truck drivers for short-distance communication.
2. “Convoy” – C.W. McCall
Speaking of which, “Convory” is an amusing reversal of “East Bound and Down.” That is because it is a song that inspired a movie. In contrast, the preceding song was written for a movie. Regardless, “Convoy” is enjoyable enough to earn a high position on this list.
1. “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses” – Kathy Mattea
“Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses” describes someone ready to set aside his life as a semi-truck driver so he can spend more time with his wife in retirement. Essentially, he has put in his thirty years. As a result, he and his wife can now head out on the road in an RV to reconnect with one another while exploring the country. Suffice it to say that sounds like a decent way to spend retirement.
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