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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


World’s Best Trucker Songs

Yes, the theme to Smokey and the Bandit is included here, but that’s just the tip of the smoke stacks. Truckers' mainstream popularity as lone wolves of the road peaked several decades ago. Let’s take a look back in that direction at the greatest trucker songs to ever come crackling out of a Kenworth’s radio. In no particular order:

1. “East Bound and Down” by Jerry Reed

As the main theme to 1977’s Smokey and the Bandit, East Bound and Down is one of the most famous trucker songs of all time, a raucous ode to smuggling Coors across state lines in an 18-wheeler, and also friendly roadside prostitutes in Winnebago’s, Trans Am’s and Burt Reynolds inexplicable attraction to Sally Fields. In sum:

“Keep your foot hard on the pedal. Son, never mind them brakes. Let it all hang out ‘cause we got a run to make. The boys are thirsty in Atlanta and there’s beer in Texarkana. And we’ll bring it back no matter what it takes.”

2. “Gear Jammer” by George Thorogood

Leave it to George Thorogood’s crazy ass to write a song about a trucker jacked out of his mind, driving “Nine long days through twenty three states.” There’s no literal mention of taking trucker pills in the lyrics, but it’s easy to draw the connections: 

“Running my rig about ninety-five, I’m a-rockin and a-rollin’ in overdrive. My heart’s beating like a jackhammer, it’s the midnight ride for the gear jammer.” 

Main themes of the song include:

Paranoia- “The police catch me I’ll end up in the slammer,” and:

Rage- “Something gets in my way you know I’m gonna ram her. Nobody fools around with this gear jammer.”

3. “I’m a truck” by Red Simpson.

This song is written in first person from the perspective of the truck. Making it even more unique, the truck hates truck drivers, alleging that they’re a bunch of womanizing chauvinists: 

“There’d be no truck drivers if it wasn’t for us trucks. No double clutching gear jamming coffee drinking nuts.” 

The truck goes on to lambaste its driver by telling a particularly unflattering story about him: 

“Well there he sits in that café drinking coffee and tellin’ lies. Probably tellin’ ‘em about that hill we topped ten miles back. Oughter tell ‘em about how he missed a gear and that Volkswagen bus full a hippies passed us like I was sittin’ up on jacks.”

4. “Teddy Bear” by Red Sovine. 

In contrast to the hateful lyrics of “I’m a truck”, Teddy Bear tells the tear-jerking story of a small crippled boy who sits at home with his CB radio, pleading with truckers to talk with him:

“Come on back truckers, and talk to Teddy Bear. Mom says you’re busy and for me to stay off the air. But you see, I get lonely and it helps to talk, ‘cause that’s about all I can do. I’m crippled and can’t walk.” 

Making matters worse, the boy’s father was killed in a trucking accident a while back: 

“Mom has to work now to make ends meet, and I’m not much help with my two crippled feet.” 

The boy goes on to say all he wants is to go for a ride in a semi truck like his dad used to take him on. When a noble trucker eventually arrives at Teddy Bear’s house to grant his wish, the true spirit of trucking/Christmas surprises them both:

“18 wheelers were lined up for three city blocks. Why I guess every driver for miles around had caught Teddy Bear’s call, and that little crippled boy was having a ball.” 

5. “Old Home Filler-Up” by C.W. McCall

You were probably expecting to see “Convoy” by C.W. McCall on the list, but that would be cliché. Plus, I like this song better. It’s about a trucker and his dog Sloan who stop off at the Old Home Filler Up, “A lookin’ for Mavis.” 

“Now we’ve been every place between here and south Sioux and we’ve seen us a truck-stop waitress or two, but this gal’s built like a burlap bag full of bobcats.”

Unlike Sally Fields. The trucker saunters up to the counter and asks ‘ol Mavis if she might like to go for a ride in his rig, implying there might be some sleeper action involved. She agrees, but asks that her mother come along as a chaperone to keep the outing respectable. 

“Well, we geared that tranny into super-low and the four of us went to see a picture show. Yeah, I took ‘em to the drive-in theater over by Pisgah, to see True Grit.” 

And then he drives them all home... Here’s a link to Convoy:


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