The trucking genre geared up in the late '30s when Southwestern songwriter Ted Daffan observed how often this new breed of worker would stop at roadside diners and make a beeline for the jukebox. Though Daffan performed his new "Truck Driver's Blues" on the road for several months, it was former Milton Brown fiddler Cliff Bruner who first recorded the song in 1939. Bruner's bleary-eyed blend of Western swing and honky tonk made the record a huge hit, particularly with the truckers who bought and requested it.
Over the next three decades, truck-driving numbers were cut in every twangy style imaginable. There were swingy polkas (Dick Reinhart's "Truck Driver's Coffee Shop"), Western-style ballads (Karl & Harty's "Truck Driver's Sweetheart"), brother duets (the Milo Twins' "Truck Driver's Boogie"), even rockabilly (Johnny Horton's blistering "I'm Coming Home"). But the genre went into overdrive in 1963 when Dave Dudley steered "Six Days on the Road" onto the pop charts. Afterward, it was the rare country singer who didn't occasionally sing about truck-stop waitresses, speed-trap smokies, diesel exhaust and dangerous curves. A horny Del Reeves was taunted by a "Girl on the Billboard," bluegrass star Jimmy Martin saved lives by turning his "Widowmaker" off the road and Dick Curless slid down an icy road marked by a "Tombstone Every Mile." As indelible as any of them was "Little Pink Mack," on which Buck Owens-protégé Kay Adams proved this hypermasculine genre wasn't just a boys' club.
Dudley's breakthrough recording was the musical model for most of these hits. Indeed, set to a chugging electric riff, a hard-driving Bakersfield-style backbeat and a chorus that mimics the hum of an eighteen-wheeler passing on the left, "Six Days on the Road" provided the sonic template for his own follow-up hits, including "Truck Drivin' Son of a Gun" and "There Ain't No Easy Run." Neither tune is included on Truck Driver's Boogie -- presumably, that's what the planned second volume is for.