Friday, February 6, 2015

Friday Tunes: Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler)

This week’s installment of labour themes in popular culture features Alabama’s 1984 hit Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler). I chose this song because it is about a difficult and dangerous blue-collar occupation that demands workers spend a lot of time away from their families. In this case, daddy’s “off on a midwest run” and his family “sure miss him when he’s gone.” Not all that different from the experiences of thousands of families who have someone commuting to and within Alberta every week.

It also talks about the distress caused to families by workplace accidents. Here, the worker’s rig has jackknifed and “the driver was missing’”. Due to bad weather, the police had called off the search. I’m not really prone to emotional reactions to songs, but this lyric about the family waiting to find out whether “daddy” is dead or alive always chokes me up.

Momma and the children will be waiting up all night long
Thinkin' nothing but the worst is comin'
With the ringin' of the telephone

The emotional toll of workplace injuries and fatalities on the families of workers is often missing from public policy discussions of injury and injury prevention.

Roll on highway, roll on along
Roll on daddy till you get back home
Roll on family, roll on crew
Roll on momma like I asked you to do
And roll on eighteen-wheeler, roll on. (roll on.)

Well, it's Monday morning, he's kissin' momma goodbye
He's up and gone with the sun
Daddy drives an eighteen-wheeler
And he's off on a midwest run

As three sad faces gather round momma
They ask her when daddy's comin' home
Daddy drives an eighteen-wheeler
And they sure miss him when he's gone (yeah they do)
Ah, but he calls them everynight
And he tells them that he loves them
And he taught them this song to sing.


Well, it's Wednesday evening, momma's waitin by the phone
It rings but it's not his voice
Seems the highway patrol has found a jackknifed rig
In a snow bank in Illinois
But the driver was missin'
And the search had been abandoned.
'Cause the weather had everything stalled

And they had checked all the houses and the local motels
When they had some more news they'd call
And she told them when they found him
To tell him that she loved him
And she hung up the phone singin'.


Momma and the children will be waiting up all night long
Thinkin' nothing but the worst is comin'
With the ringin' of the telephone
Oh, but the man upstairs was listening
When momma asked him to bring daddy home
And when the call came in it was daddy on the other end
Askin' her if she had been singin' the song, singin'.



Roll on
Roll on... end of lyrics

-- Bob Barnetson

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