Saturday, May 4, 2013

Classic trucking song written by a Teamster

The Teamsters Archive at The George Washington University uncovers some great surprises—even to people steeped in the popular culture of the Teamsters Union. For instance, did you know that the classic song “Six Days on the Road” was written by a Teamster?
Here’s what the archives had to say about it:
In August 1963 Teamster magazine received a letter from James A. Watson, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 402, Muscle Shoals, Alabama, asking that the following item be printed in the magazine: “Brother Earl Green, a member of Chauffeurs and Sales Drivers Local Union No. 402, is the writer of the song ‘Six Days on the Road’ that is making the charts today.”
Earl Green’s day job was transporting floor tiles from Alabama to Pittsburgh for Robbin’s Floor Products of Tuscumbia, Alabama. He also moonlighted as a studio musician at the Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. Another Muscle Shoals session man, Carl Montgomery, shares the “Six Days” writing credit with Earl Green. (One source claims that Carl was also Earl’s long-haul driving partner and that “Six Days on the Road” is based on their over-the-road experiences.)
Teamster magazine ran Jim Watson’s item in the September 1963 issue noting that “If the song ‘Six Days on the Road’ which is currently making the charts has an authentic ring to the over-the-road truck driver, it should have. It was written by a Teamster...”
Yep, the tune first made famous by Dave Dudley in 1963 and kicked off a golden age of trucking songs was written by a Teamster freight driver. A great live version of Dudley performing the song can be found here.
Another popular version of the song was performed by the Flying Burrito Brothers. You can also catch their performance of “Six Days on the Road” in the 1970 Rolling Stones documentary, “Gimme Shelter.”
Steve Earle released a cover that was used in the “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” soundtrack.
The late, great George Jones also released his own take of the song.
This video of Johnny Cash performing the song has a great introduction by the Man in Black.
Taj Mahal recorded the song in 1969 as only he can. That same year, Country Joe McDonald recorded a version.
It has been covered by dozens of other artists and, according to, “was a watershed single -- a country smash that crossed over to the pop Top 40 and inspired the veritable subgenre of trucking songs that reached full flower in the '70s.”