If you’re a fan of travel-related songs, chances are you’ve heard plenty of truck driving songs. Their lyrics tell sordid stories about trucking down interstates and various encounters along the way.
While most of these songs fall into the country music genre, fans of all musical styles can appreciate them.
We dug in to learn more about these tunes that have been part of the musical landscape for generations.
Let’s check them out!
What’s a Country Truck Driving Song?
This subgenre of country music began in the late 1930s. Most people consider Truck Driver’s Blues, recorded in 1939 by Cliff Bruner & His Boys, to be the first truck driving song.
While songs about truck driving popped up throughout the 40s and 50s, it wasn’t until the 60s that this genre really took off. Red Simpson, Dave Dudley, and Cletus Maggard were just a few musicians singing about truck driving life.
References in the song lyrics include truck stops, billboards, women, the loneliness of the road, use of stimulants, and road conditions. Additionally, you’ll hear tales of long hauls, economic hardships, and the type of product truckers move.
Another distinction with this genre is the lingo used that only truck drivers will recognize. Terms like jake brakes, truck rodeo, saddle tanks, and Georgia overdrive aren’t likely to be known to the average person.
There has been more than 500 truck driving songs written since the 1930s. Trucking tunes have even been written as recently as the 2000s. Songwriter Dale Watson released Truckin Sessions Vol. 1 in 1998 and Vol. 2 in 2009. Both albums are heavy with truck driving themes.
Here, we’ve narrowed that list of over 500 songs down to seven of the genre’s greatest classic tunes. So, let’s get those wheels spinning and see what these songs have to tell us about the life of truck drivers.
#7 White Line Fever
About the Song: The white lines in this song refer to the driving lanes on the highway. The subject thinks about his years on the road and his overall mortality. You get the feeling he’s tired of the truck driving life but doesn’t know how to quit.
White line fever, a sickness born Down deep within my soul White line fever, the years keep flyin' by Like the highline poles
First Appearance: Merle Haggard wrote and released his song in 1969 on his Okie From Muskogee LP.
#6 Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler)
About the Song: This song’s story is likely common for many truck drivers with families. While Daddy is off driving his eighteen-wheeler, the family waits at home for his phone calls, letting them know he’s okay. One day, they received a call from the highway patrol letting them know about an accident with the truck, but the driver was missing.
While the song could have had a sad ending, fortunately, it doesn’t. Daddy eventually calls the family to let them know he’s fine and will be coming home soon.
Well, it's Monday morning He's kissin' Mama goodbye He's up and gone with the sun Daddy drives an eighteen-wheeler And he's off on a Midwest run
First Appearance: The country group, Alabama, released this song in 1984 on their eighth album, also titled Roll On.
#5 Teddy Bear
About the Song: A rather sad, yet uplifting, truck driving song about a little boy whose big rig-driving dad died. The boy has “two crippled feet” and decides to get on his dad’s CB radio and reach out to ask a trucker to fulfill a wish. That wish is to get one last ride in a truck like his dad used to do for him.
Instead of just one trucker showing up to take the kid for a ride, a whole line of drivers arrived at his home. It’s a touching story to show that the community of truckers will often go out of their way to help someone in need.
You know there's just one thing I want more than anything else to see Aw, I know you guys are too busy to bother with me!" "But, you see, my dad used to take me for rides when he was home But, I guess that's all over now, since my daddy's gone
First Appearance: This song was written and released by singer Red Sovine in 1976.
#4 Six Days on the Road
About the Song: This song tells the story of a driver hauling a load along the Eastern seaboard. He’s been out on the road for a while and is thinking about returning home in six days. It’s considered the song that launched the subgenre of truck driving songs.
I got me ten forward gears and a George Overdrive I'm taking little white pills and my eyes are opened wide I just passed a Jimmy and a White I been passing everything in sight
First Appearance: The song was initially released in 1961 by singer Paul Davis. But it wasn’t until Dave Dudley’s 1963 version that it became a Billboard hit.
#3 On the Road Again
About the Song: This catchy sing-along hit epitomizes the life of someone driving a truck for a living. The lyrics may specifically be about Willie and his band traveling between shows. But it can easily exemplify a truck driver’s way of life on the road.
On the road again Goin' places that I've never been Seein' things that I may never see again And I can't wait to get on the road again
First Appearance: Beloved country singer Willie Nelson released this song in 1980.
About the Song: This song is a fictional story about a massive trucker rebellion driving across the country without stopping. They’re ignoring rules, speed limits, and just about anything else they don’t want to obey. The lyrics, full of trucker slang, convey the conversation between truckers on a CB radio.
By the time we got into Tulsa Town We had eighty-five trucks in all But they's a roadblock up on the cloverleaf And them bears was wall-to-wall Yeah, them smokies is thick as bugs on a bumper They even had a bear in the air! I says, "Callin' all trucks, this here's the Duck "We about to go a-huntin' bear"
First Appearance: Released in 1975, this C. W. McCall tune became a #1 song on both country and pop music charts. In addition, it became the theme song for the 1978 movie Convoy.
#1 East Bound and Down
About the Song: This truck driving song was written specifically for the movie Smokey and The Bandit. If you don’t know any other song on this list, you’re likely familiar with this one. The tune landed at the #2 spot on Billboard’s Hot Country chart and stayed there for 16 weeks. Ask most people, and they’ll likely tell you this is the best song about truck driving ever written.
East bound and down, loaded up and truckin' A-we gonna do what they say can't be done We've got a long way to go, and a short time to get there I'm east bound, just watch ol' "Bandit" run
First Appearance: Written in 1977 by Jerry Reed, it appears on Reed’s album of the same name.
Which Country Truck Driving Song is Your Favorite?
There are many great truck driving tunes out there to choose from as a favorite. And, a playlist of songs in this genre is sure to add to the fun for your next road trip. What other truck driving songs would you add to our list?