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Friday, 17 December 2010
To Err Is Human, To Truck Is Sovine by Jeremy Gluck
Whilst this was a piece meant for issue 7 and thus never published, its author, Jeremy Gluck had been both a literary and musical contributor to the magazine since as far back as issue 3. As a long time Barracudas fan, I was never less than thrilled at the interest he took in WANWTTS, and this is the first of several articles he wrote for us that I'll be putting up (though the only one bearing the pen name Cal B Burnholdt III....).
Hello, I'm A Truck – Introduction by Cal B Burnholdt III
“Country singers have been singing about truck drivers for nearly as long as truckers have been listening to country music. The mutual respect of the two professions is deserved, both travel many millions of miles a year and both are experts in their own field. It is not an unusual sight to see at least one country stars bus or car parked in a truck stop. In the USA many powerful Country radio stations devote their night-time radio programmes to truckers. They mix country with road reports, weather and adverts for truck stops, gas and assorted products.”
from “Keep On Truckin'” RCA 1981
A Personal Message From Red Sovine, King Of The Truckdriver Songsmiths:
“I got somethin' kinda special I'd like to say to all of you truckdrivers out there who might be listening right now....also, a truck driver's prayer that I'd like to pass along to you 'cause I think it's kinda special too.
But first, now I've got a few things I've been wanting to say to you guys for a long time and I think right now is a good time to do it. Like, did you know that me and about everyone in Country music who travel a lot have nothing but the highest respect for you, the truck driver....'cause it's a fact that some of the best drivers and the most safety-minded, the most courteous, and the first to stop and help where there's trouble and little things like blinking signal lights to help someone pass...so you gotta be good people.
Like some I've had the pleasure of meeting....down to earth hard working family men, and a lot of you like your country music; and that makes you OK in my book. Sounds like I'm blowing smoke, don't it? But I'm not 'cause it boils down to this...if everyone would drive like you guys do there would be a lot less accidents and deaths on the highways.
So truck drivers....Buddy, you're appreciated more than you'll ever know, and we salute you. Now for the prayer. This truck driver's prayer was sent to me by a truck driver from Oklahoma City – he found it at a truck stop. This prayer meant a lot to him and I think it will to you too. So if you will, give a listen and see if it isn't your prayer too.
Truck Driver's Prayer
Dear God above, bless this truck I drive and help me keep someone alive.
And be my mortal sight this day on streets where little children play.
Bless my helper, fast asleep, when the night is long and deep
And keep my cargo safe and sound through the hours big and round.
Make my judgement sound as steel and be my hands upon the wheel.
Bless the traveller going past and teach him not to go so fast.
Give me strength for every trip so I may care for what they ship
And make me mindful every mile that life is just a little while.
From “The Best Of The Truck Driver's Songs” Gusto Records, Inc, 1975
Hello I'm A Truck....by Cal B Burnholdt III
When the history of popular music is written definitively by some bug-eyed Martian two hundred years hence, what place will the li'l green guy give to TRUCKDRIVING music? Go on, bigshot, laugh your little laugh! You think that pansy crud like U2 and the rest of that bored-again rock (sick) stadium yawn is a big deal because millions of sheep flock to it. Well. Git this straight, pard – Truckdriving music is for real MEN and their womenfolk, not for spotty teens with an Oedipus complex and an allowance from their parents!
It just so happens that 90% of the greatest songs ever written are TRUCKDRIVING songs. “Sgt. Pepper” can't even shine the shoes of an awesome pearl before swine like “East Bound And Down” or “Teddy Bear”. Christ almighty, John, them weirdo pothead hippies couldn't even get into a truck let alone drive the bastard!
“Hello, I'm A Truck” by Red Simpson, is as good ol' boy a place to start as any when praising eighteen wheel wailing. In making a truck narrate a heartfelt autobiographical tract concerning the bovine nature of its human driver, Simpson edged into philosophical regions too uncharted for all but the most Moonied-out of post-EST damage-domes to explore. Not enough for ol' Reddy to merely castigate trucking manhood. No, the talking truck is compassionate, resigned in Christlike poise to endure his ordeal. “There'd be no truck drivers if it weren't for us trucks” goes the gripping chorus, and then this INCREDIBLE closing monologue: “Look at him, sippin' coffee and flirtin' with that waitress. Where d'you think he left me? That's right, next to a cattle truck (moo!). Why couldn't he have put me over next to that little pink Mack? Gosh she's got purdy mudflaps, and talk about stacked – they're both chrome!” It goes on, covering the common ground of truck and man experience in a down home fashion....GULP!
Meanwhile, a feller named Dave Dudley wrote “Rolaids, Doan's Pills And Preparation H” brand names of respectively anti-acid pills, kidney pills and haemorrhoid ointment. The minimal instrumentation common to trucking songs decorates this brill tune, that has a little flanged guitar and hokey harp to back up DD's manly timbre as he relates his list of medical problems resulting from sitting in a driver's seat 18 hours a day. “Well I'm tellin' you, I have had it around the you-know-where”. This sort of awesome realism is quite common to this gene, wherein man's burning existential questions and metaphysical quandaries are levelled by the driving logic (sic) of the truckin' life, reducing the sacred equation of life into a trinity of headaches, bumaches and gutaches.
Now buddies good and bad, it's high time I intr'duced y'all t' Red Sovine hisself, the man who wrote such devastating truck hits as “Teddy Bear” (in the charts again not that long ago, up to Number 10 mind!), “Giddy Up Go” and the eerie “Phantom 309”. Sovine, who pretty much pioneered the incredible “Heartbreak” school of truckin' songs, thrives on eldritch twists to make his stories work, everything from crippled children to ghost trucks and to broken homes of all descriptions.
“Teddy Bear” is the archetypal sob story, all about a little boy whose father croaked helping some motorist and left the kid, a cripple, unable to pick up the pieces and step into his truckin' daddy's shoes. One nigh, a trucker who narrates this epic, hears the little kid on his CB asking to ride in a truck...you can guess the rest: fleets of trucks show up all offering the kid a lift, it makes his day, his mother cries et al. Wonderful stuff, especially as almost every line begins with Sovine's heavily accented enunciation of “But....” said with a weight of meaning that drips with sentiment and manliness
“Giddy Up Go” is another staggering Sovine masterpiece, telling the tale of a woman who moves to the desert with her little boy for health reasons: her truckin' hubby figures she ditched him...it goes on....the kid calls his dad's truck “Giddy Up Go”...finally, years later, they're reunited at a truck-stop...proof of truck-driving being part of the RNA/DNA information passed on.
Minnie Pearl released a record a while after Sovine's called “Giddy Up Go Answer”, from the trucker, as told to Minnie's old pal up north. Remarkable and beautiful, this sequel betters Sovine's original: “Every time a truck would pull in, I could see her stand and stare/ Wasn't long before she had to give up bein' a waitress there.” Weep-a-rama-a-go-go! To err is human, to truck is Sovine!
“I'm a kiss-stealin', wheelin'-dealin', truck-drivin' son-of-a-gun!” - Red SovineTypical Truckin' Titles:“Six days On The Road”
“Give Me Forty Acres”
“Truck Driver's Queen”
Well, friends, that just about rounds it up, but needless to say the songs and artists cited above are a mere fraction of a fraction of the super sub-culture that is truckin'. There's literally thousands of cheapo compilations on the market that shuffle the best songs into all sorts of combinations. Patience and a burning desire will eventually turn up truckin' vinyl in the least likely places! Don't forget, a lot of this music really rocks it, a la rockabilly-boogie or J. Cash “walk-the-line-two-stroke-struttin'". A proper history of the subject is best left to more educated specimens than I; yet, oh novices, TRUCK!
This wouldn't, of course, be complete without adding the song that was track one, side one of issue 3 of WANWTTS. Another of Jeremy Gluck's alter egos, this time as The Psychology Vandals and an early version of "Burning Skulls Rise", clicks and vinyl surface noise 'n all....
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