Monday, February 6, 2012

Dave Dudley -- "Six Days on the Road" (1963)

I got my ten forward gears 
And a Georgia overdrive
I'm takin' little white pills 
And my eyes are open wide
I just passed a Jimmy and a White 
I been a passin' everything in sight
Six days on the road 
And I'm-a gonna make it home tonight

Country singer Dave Dudley -- he was born David Pedruska, in Spencer, Wisconsin, in 1928 -- specialized in singing truck-drivin' songs.

"Six Days on the Road" is his best-known hit, and perhaps the best of all truck-drivin' songs.  It was released in 1963, and I loved it as an 11-year-old.  (To tell the truth, I still do.)

My father drove a truck -- not an 18-wheeler -- in his job, and riding along with him on Saturdays (the lawyers don't allow that any more) was a fascinating experience.  Later I had summer jobs at freight companies, which included maneuvering tractors (that's the non-trailer part of an 18-wheeler) around the freight yards.  

The summer before I went to law school and put jobs like this behind me forever, I drove a good-sized water-tank truck on a highway construction.  (I drove it into a ditch once, but one of the grader operators hooked on to me with a tow chain and got me out of trouble before the boss saw anything.)

I don't know if the two guys who wrote it had ever been in the driver's seat of an 18-wheeler, but it sure sounded like they had.  The lyrics have plenty of authentic truckers' slang, and Dudley's macho performance is just perfect.

Speaking of truckers' slang, "Georgia overdrive" refers to the practice of putting a truck into neutral gear to pick up speed when going down a steep grade.  It's not the safest practice in the world, but neither is the practice of taking little white uppers so you can drive all night without falling asleep.  A "Jimmy" is slang for a GMC, and Whites were another popular make of over-the-road trucks.

Here's "Six Days on the Road":

Here's a link you can use to buy it from Amazon:

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