Music forged from trucking’s soul

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I’m runnin’ coast to coast out on the Interstate ... hauling heavy loads that just can’t be late … but there’s no doubt about it, there’s no place I’d rather be … highway fever has got a hold on me.” –from the ballad “Highway Fever” penned and sung by Terry Wooley

You know, the trucking industry is the source of an awful lot of creative inspiration for writers, movie makers, and of course musicians – especially musicians.

If you’re as old as I am (and that means being in the “creaky” years) you’ll no doubt remember such trucking classics like Convoy by C.W. McCall (the pseudonym for William Dale Fries, Jr.) or East Down and Bound by the late great Jerry Reed (a personal favorite of mine).

Yet there’s a whole host of other artists out there – the famous and not so famous – that are tapping the rigors and rewards of daily life in the trucking business to craft a new generation of hard-hitting songs about the blood and sweat of the men and women piloting the big rigs across America.

Take Leland Martin, for example. He’s captured the essence of driving trucks for a living in a recent tune of his called Workin’ Class that you or may not have heard. You can practically feel the gears shift listening to this one:

If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to meet Martin at the Mid America Trucking Show in a few short weeks here – and get to listen to some of his songs live, which to me is the best way to music like this.

Speaking of live music … that brings me to a personal favorite, Terry Wooley, who I had the good fortune to chat with last year at Mid America. He pens an awful lot of trucking-themed tunes that to my mind at least captures the mix of good and bad that goes with hauling freight for a living.

[Below, you can Terry Wooley perform one of those trucking songs, called Highway Fever, at the 2010 Mid America show – with just an acoustic guitar and his one-of-a-kind gravelly voice.]

But it’s not all fun and games in trucking music circles, for these singers and songwriters often join forces with truckers themselves to try and make a difference in the world.

Wooley, for example, penned a song called There is a cure to help out a trucking group called Convoy for the kids, which raises money to combat a variety of maladies that afflict children. These are folks that don’t just drive big rigs – they drive big hearts as well.

Convoy for the kids is just one of those groups you can’t help but cheer on as they now begin preparing for their third annual event.

As you can see below, trucks can bring the right kind of attention to worthy causes like this one – proving again, to my mind at least, the descriptive “Knights of the Road” can still be applied to many of the folks behind the wheels of 18-wheelers rolling up and down America’s highways, day and night.

Now that, my friends, is something worth singing about.

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Trucks at Work: Sean Kilcarr comments on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry.

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