Hey truckers, we’re back with another episode in our long running series Truck Driver Songs. Here we look at the history of country and rock to find the best ballads that sing the praises of the North American truck driver. This week we’ve got a bit of 70s rock by way of outlaw country’s godfather.
Originally released by Bob Seger on his Live Bullet album. The song “Turn the Page” became a mainstay of album-oriented rock radio stations, and still gets significant airplay to this day. While obviously about life on the road as a rock musician, the song made many connections between the life of a truck driver and that of a traveling act. This is what appealed to Waylon Jennings and why he chose to record it for the album of the same name released in 1985.
While most well known for his work with country legends Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson, Jennings continued to shift his unique style of jangling but driving country sounds into different areas to stay relevant all the way until his death in 2002.
Although Jennings faded in and out of obscurity, he still managed to get albums released and sell high well into the late 80s. He continued experimenting with styles and audiences, even appearing on a tour leg of the famous alternative rock festival Lollapalooza in 1997.
The last quarter of his life was not kind to him. He, like his compatriots Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, lived hard and fast during and after the Nashville heydays. At various points in his career, Jennings was addicted to amphetamines, cocaine, alcohol and nicotine. He supposedly had a 6 pack a day habit, which gave him lung and leg trouble for decades.
Between 1966 and 1995, 54 Jennings’ albums charted, with 11 reaching number one. Meanwhile between 1965 and 1991, 96 singles charted, with 16 number ones. In October 2001, Jennings was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. In one final act of defiance, he did not attend the ceremony and opted instead to send son Buddy Dean Jennings to accept the award.
So let’s listen to a true country music master remake a gentler country version of an AOR rock radio standard, with video provided by movie clips from Black Dog, Convoy and Smokey & The Bandit. Enjoy, truck drivers!
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