Truckers have always held a certain mystique as modern day cowboys living life on the road. This rare breed of tireless, modern day wranglers drive long hours on tight schedules to deliver pretty much everything we depend on. In fact, the average truck driver spends more than 300 days a year driving over 500 miles in complete solitude. For many, music is the constant companion that keeps their wheels going around and around.
If you’ve ever wondered what might be playing inside all those rigs you’ve passed countless times on the road, AXS decided to go right to the source and find out from some real life truck drivers.
Of course, we didn’t exactly stand out on the highway and flag down passing rigs to conduct our poll. Instead, we teamed up with one of today’s top truck driver resources, Trucking Unlimited, to conduct our survey on-line. The company hosts both the most widely used job site, www.TruckDrivingJobs.com, and one of the largest trucking groups on Facebook (followed by thousands of truck drivers from across North America). We reached out to their audience and asked them to tell us their top favorite trucking songs.
The most popular response with the highest number of votes confirmed that the majority of truck drivers are just like the rest of us; they like all types of music across the board.
“Driving gave me a love for all genres of music, from country to jazz, rock to classical, and everything in between. Music in any form makes the miles fly by and keeps you from thinking too much,” said truck driver, Wilkison Jami. Another trucker added that he even has a certain favorite genre for every type of load he drives.
"Well when I haul dry freight, old school country. When hauling produce, old school rock. When I pulled a cattle rack, it had to be heavy metal to stay awake, you don't sleep much hauling cattle! And when I pulled heavy equipment, I didn't listen to anything. I had to keep my ears open just in case something snapped," explained Paul Underhill.
There were also plenty of truckers with definite preferences of road music, ranging from classic trucking tunes to the original outlaws such as Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings. High voltage, adrenaline pumping rock and obscure choices such as Celtic death metal also made appearances on lists.
We decided to combine the top voted road tunes along with our favorite random driver picks to bring you our final list of “Top 10 Trucker Tunes.” Enjoy!
Top 10 Trucker Tunes
Jammin' gears has got to be a fever
'Cause men become addicted to the grind
It takes a special breed to be a truck drivin' man
And a steady hand to pull that load behind
While you can see how the lyrics might strike a chord with even today's special breed of truckers, Merle Haggard originally wrote “Movin' On” as the theme song for the 70’s TV show “Movin’ On,” which followed two truckers on their various adventures as they traveled the country. The song was also among many country music hits that paid homage to over-the-road truck drivers and created a sub-genre of its own.
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
Six days on the road and I'm gonna make it home tonight
Dudley’s 1963 hit is actually credited as being the first to launch the sub-genre of trucking music and helped to give country it's street cred as music for "the real working man." Sawyer Brown also brought the hit song back to life in the 90’s.
More than a catchy tune, truck drivers love Red Sovine's haunting tale of a hitchhiker who catches a ride with a trucker that turns out to be the ghost. This particular ghost happens to be that of a man who gave up his life to save a school bus full of children during a tragic collision with his rig.
While Kid Rock’s 2001 single, “Trucker Anthem,” appealed to many with it’s hard rock kick into country and controversial lyrics, the 2010 release of “Purple Sky” on his Born Free album brought back the softer side of Rock. The song has remained a favorite road tune for many truckers today.
I just wanna drink 'til I'm not thirsty, I just wanna sleep 'til I'm not tired
I just wanna drive 'til I run out of highway into the purple sky
Well, I asked an old truck driver
About life out on the road
If he does a lotta singing
When he's bringing in his load
If truckers are to America what Johnny Cash is to music, then what could be better than everyone’s favorite original outlaw devoting a hit song to truck drivers and life on the road? The song was originally released on his 1974 album, Ragged Old Flag.
Diesel is up, the freight is down
And I believe they're jerkin' you boys around
Somebody oughta tell 'em if they don't know
Little wheels turnin' makes a big wheel roll
Not only was Waylon Jennings another one of country’s favorite original outlaws, he also gets extra road cred for being among the few artists who actually worked as a truck driver before he became famous. It was a minor accident and an issue with his employer that finally convinced him to quit the trucking biz and focus on music full-time.
Two antique dealers in a SUV proceeded to cut me off
I followed them downtown to one of them artists lofts
One of the guys came to the door, he said, “Hi, you must be Mitch"
I said "No". I punched him in the teeth and said, "I'm a truck driving son of a bitch."
Founded in San Diego in 1988, Deadbolt called themselves "the scariest band in the world" and coined their own genre of “vodoobilly” music, which is a mix of surf rock, goth, psychobilly and blues. The group has also become known for using power tools during their live shows and the offbeat, dark lyrics of their songs. “Truck Driving S.O.B” is from the band's sixth studio album, Voodoo Trucker, and has become a truck driver favorite for putting a modern twist on the old-school outlaws.
AC/DC has become so engrained in America’s rock n’ roll landscape that they still hold their place among the top go to road tunes for today's truckers.
“Whenever I get sleepy or I’m in heavy traffic, I plug in AC/DC. When I’m in Dallas I listen to ‘Highway to Hell,’” said truck driver, Bruce Enox.
Trucker Christopher Campbell also told us that while Judas Priest, Motorhead and Five Finger Death Punch are his top favorite high amp picks, his younger trainees “are particularly fond of ten straight hours of Celtic death metal.”
One of the few female truck drivers who answered our survey explained that Ozzy's sentimental song has become a ritual road tune during her final stretch home.
“It's a tradition that when I'm on my last leg to head home, I blast Ozzy Osborne's ‘Mama I'm Coming Home.’ My husband's the one at home, but the lyrics work the same even if we're a little opposite,” said Marquita Lowry Carrol.
We couldn’t help but list our own favorite pick. Before Nine Inch Nails, Al Jourgensen was a longtime pioneer of the industrial music scene and his main band, Ministry, was integral to bringing industrial metal into the mainstream. The band's most unforgettable album, Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs, features a beastly mix of best singles including, “Just One Fix,” “Jesus Built My Hotrod” and “N.W.O.”