Six Days on the Road

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"Six Days on the Road"
Single by Dave Dudley
from the album 'Songs About the Working Man'
ReleasedMay 1963 (U.S.)
Format7"
RecordedMarch 1963
Kay Bank Studios, Minneapolis, Minnesota
GenreCountry
Length2:24
LabelGolden Wing 3020
Writer(s)Earl Green and Carl Montgomery
Dave Dudley singles chronology
"Under the Cover of the Night"
(1962)
"Six Days on the Road"
(1963)
"Cowboy Boots"
(1963)
 
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"Six Days on the Road"
Single by Dave Dudley
from the album 'Songs About the Working Man'
ReleasedMay 1963 (U.S.)
Format7"
RecordedMarch 1963
Kay Bank Studios, Minneapolis, Minnesota
GenreCountry
Length2:24
LabelGolden Wing 3020
Writer(s)Earl Green and Carl Montgomery
Dave Dudley singles chronology
"Under the Cover of the Night"
(1962)
"Six Days on the Road"
(1963)
"Cowboy Boots"
(1963)

"Six Days on the Road" is an American song written by Earl Green and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio songwriter Carl Montgomery, made famous originally by country music singer Dave Dudley. First released in 1963, the song became a major hit that year and is often hailed as the definitive celebration of the American truck driver.[1][2]

In 1997, the song was covered by country music band Sawyer Brown, who took the song into the Top 15 of the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.

Dave Dudley version[edit]

According to country music historian Bill Malone, "Six Days on the Road" was not the first truck driving song; Malone credits "Truck Driver's Blues" by Cliff Bruner, released in 1940, with that distinction. "Nor is it necessarily the best," said Malone, citing songs such as "Truck Drivin' Man" by Terry Fell and "White Line Fever" by Merle Haggard and the Strangers as songs that "would certainly rival it".[3]

However, "Six Days," Malone continued, "set off a vogue for such songs" that continued for many years. "The trucking songs coincided with country music's growing identification as working man's music in the 1960s," he said.[4] Many country music artists and bands—including Alabama, Dick Curless, Merle Haggard, Kathy Mattea, Ronnie Milsap, Jerry Reed, Del Reeves, Dan Seals, Red Simpson, Red Sovine, Joe Stampley, C.W. McCall, Steve Earle, among many others—recorded successful truck driving songs during the next 25 years. Several of those artists—Dudley included—became almost exclusively associated with songs about truck drivers and life on the road.

Dudley "strikingly captures the sense of boredom, danger and swaggering masculinity that often accompanies long-distance truck driving. His macho interpretation, with its rock-and-roll overtones, is perfect for the song."[5]

Allmusic writer Bill Dahl, called "Six Days" the "ultimate overworked rig driver's lament;"[6] indeed, the song's lyrics bemoan highway patrolmen, scale weigh-ins and loneliness for the narrator's girlfriend, and speak of using "little white pills" to keep him awake. Like Malone, Dahl also cited Dudley's voice as perfect for the song, as "his bottomless pipes were certainly the ultimate vehicle for its delivery, reeking of too much turgid coffee and too many non-filtered cigarettes."[7]

Dudley's version was also played during the STS-3 mission as a wake-up call.[citation needed]

Chart performance[edit]

Released in mid-May 1963, "Six Days on the Road" became Dudley's first major hit, reaching No. 2 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart that summer. The record spent 21 weeks on this chart, and it also became a minor hit on Top 40 radio stations, peaking at No. 32 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was also listed at number 13 on their easy listening survey.

Many truck-driving themed hits followed for Dudley, including "Last Day in the Mines," "Truck Drivin' Son-of-a-Gun" and "Truck Driver's Prayer."

Chart (1963)Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles2
U.S. Billboard Easy Listening13
U.S. Billboard Hot 10032

Sawyer Brown version[edit]

"Six Days on the Road"
Single by Sawyer Brown
from the album Six Days on the Road
Released1997
GenreCountry
Length2:53
LabelCurb
ProducerMark Miller, Mac McAnally
Sawyer Brown singles chronology
"She's Gettin' There"
(1996)
"Six Days on the Road"
(1997)
"This Night Won't Last Forever"
(1997)

Sawyer Brown covered the song on their 1997 album Six Days on the Road. Their version peaked at No. 13 on the country charts that year. They changed the line "I'm taking little white pills" to "I'm passing little white lines", thus omitting the drug reference.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1997)Peak
position
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[8]9
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)[9]17
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[10]13

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1997)Position
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[11]87

Cover versions[edit]

Many cover versions of "Six Days on the Road" have been recorded, with three of them also being chart hits for other artists. Johnny Rivers took a cover to No. 58 on the country charts and No. 105 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1974. Steve Earle recorded the song for the 1987 movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles, and his version reached No. 29 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in early 1988.

Others who have recorded "Six Days" include Del Reeves, George Jones, Red Simpson, Nev Nicholls, Ferlin Husky, Boxcar Willie, Red Sovine, Jim Croce, George Thorogood, the Flying Burrito Brothers, who are shown performing the song live in the movie, "Gimme Shelter", as well as Gram Parsons and the Fallen Angels, aka The Turkeys, blues guitarist Popa Chubby (for his 2008 album Vicious Country), New Riders of the Purple Sage and Tom Petty's band Mudcrutch. According to Dahl, one of the best versions was a blues-rocking rendition recorded in 1969 by Taj Mahal.[12]

The Youngbloods covered it during a 1971 concert in San Francisco.

David Allan Coe covered it and it appears on his 1994 compilation "20 Greatest Hits".

String Cheese Incident has covered it at least three times, most notably, at the Electric Forest Festival in Rothbury, MI featuring Jason Carter, Rob McCoury and Ronnie McCoury of The Travelin' McCoury's and the Del McCoury Band.

"Six Tons of Toys"[edit]

Dudley recorded a re-written Christmas version entitled "Six Tons of Toys" on his 1982 album Trucker's Christmas.[13] This was covered by Paul Brandt on his 1997 album A Paul Brandt Christmas: Shall I Play for You?.

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1] Dahl, Bill, "Six Days on the Road" at Allmusic
  2. ^ Malone, Bill, "The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Country Music" ((booklet included with The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Country Music 8-volume set). Smithsonian Institution, 1981).
  3. ^ ibid.
  4. ^ ibid.
  5. ^ ibid.
  6. ^ Dahl.
  7. ^ ibid.
  8. ^ "RPM Country Tracks. RPM. June 9, 1997. Retrieved July 17, 2013.
  9. ^ "Sawyer Brown Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 for Sawyer Brown.
  10. ^ "Sawyer Brown Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot Country Songs for Sawyer Brown.
  11. ^ "RPM Top 100 Country Tracks of 1997". RPM. December 15, 1997. Retrieved July 17, 2013. 
  12. ^ ibid
  13. ^ "Trucker's Christmas". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-12-08. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]