Welcome back to the latest installment of our popular series “Truck Driver Songs.” We’ve covered trucker anthems from the present and decades past and we won’t stop until we’ve run out of fuel! This week we’re taking a look at an acoustic rock song by St. Louis, Missouri natives Son Volt.
Originally recorded by country music star Del Reeves in the late 60s, the truck driver anthem “Looking at the World Through a Windshield” has been recorded and covered live by hundreds of country and rock stars over the years. It’s a song that has broad appeal because there’s both sadness and happiness to be found within the lyrics, but also a sense of duty which characterized the long haulers on the dangerous roads and harsh conditions of trucking’s past.
Son Volt has a history of both triumph and heartbreak that could qualify them as major contenders in the alt-country genre. Band founder Jay Farrar played a critical role in Uncle Tupelo, a that band is credited with jump starting the entire “No Depression” movement that renewed a classic style of simple country arrangements for modern college audiences. The term “No Depression” was a country song from the 40s by The Carter Family, later covered by Uncle Tupelo on their first album with the same name.
When Uncle Tupelo split in half, it seemed as though Jay Farrar was destined for bigger and better things. Farrar and drummer Mike Heidorn went on to form Son Volt while his ex-bandmate Jeff Tweedy threw together a band called Wilco. Wilco became critical and commercial darlings. At the same time, Son Volt continued to struggle with line ups, addiction, low sales and media interest. During a creative hiatus, the band released an album called A Retrospective 1995-2000. The album featured B-sides, lost performance clips and radio spots.
The cover song we’re featuring today is from A Retrospective, clipped from a radio interview and in-studio performance back in the late 90s. It’s just Jay singing and playing acoustic guitar, backed up by two other band members strumming along with him. It’s simple, catchy and makes you think. Enjoy, truck drivers!