Take it on the road | Bleader

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Take it on the road

Posted By on 05.14.08 at 06:01 PM

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The award for Somewhat Inexplicable and Strangely Banal Government Web Site of the Day goes to the Federal Highway Administration's Some Road Songs page, an impressively exhaustive list of songs that are about or at least mention highways and roads. It gets points for going deep and obscure--I can't name off the top of my head any other Department of Transportation Web site that name-checks Ida and Hayden--but it still feels like something cubicle dwellers did to distract themselves from their jobs.

A better idea would be for the Federal Highway Administration to step up and reissue this:

Road Music

Promising "23 Truckin' Hits," Road Music is the single best thing I've ever bought at a truck stop, which is saying a lot, especially if you know how much I like cheap stimulants and even cheaper porn mags.

Trucker C&W is a longtime fascination of mine--I know way more about the history of "Convoy" than anyone should. It probably goes back to my grandparents putting on Hee Haw or Barbara Mandrell's show when they came over to babysit. (My first concert was the Oak Ridge Boys. I think I was seven.) Maybe eight years ago, when I lived in Ann Arbor, WCBN aired an afternoon-long trucker-country program and I was utterly transfixed--I spent about two hours driving around town, just because I didn't want to miss anything by getting out of my car to find another radio inside.

"Convoy" is on Road Music, sort of--it's not the C.W. McCall original but a cheapo cover by "T.H. Music Festival"--but though it's probably the best-known trucker song, it's hardly representative of the genre in that it has a pretty positive outlook on the subject of truck driving.

A surprising amount of trucker C&W is about how much it fucking sucks to drive a truck for a living--the tedium, the danger, the rampant drug abuse, the loneliness that comes with existing in a perpetual state of transit. Road Music's track listing includes such happy-go-lucky hits as "Passing Zone Blues," "Widowmaker," and "Endless Black Ribbon." Even in the upbeat "Six Days on the Road"--maybe the second-best trucker C&W song, represented here by the superior Dave Dudley version--the narrator is only happy because he's about to get a break from driving his goddamn truck. It's like a CPA writing a song called "The Only Thing Keeping Me From Killing Myself During Tax Season Is My Cocaine Addiction."

There's still country music being written about truck drivers, but as its own subgenre trucker C&W died out around the time America got over its mid-70s fascination with trucking and CB culture. Maybe it's time for someone at the Federal Highway Administration to pay musical tribute to the horny, drug-addled sociopaths who keep our country running.

(Some Road Songs link via Cardhouse)

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