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Six Days on the Road

Tuesday, 3 July, 2007

Dave Dudley performs his signature song for the Wilburn Bros. ca. 1972.

Well, I pulled out of Pittsburgh,
Rollin’ down the Eastern Seaboard.

Aside from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania itself one cannot depart from Pittsburgh in a state considered “The Eastern Seaboard”. Indeed Pittsburgh only technically qualifies as it lies west of the mountains. Pittsburgh is the northernmost point, and largest community within Appalachia. Although, Buffalo, New York and Atlanta, Georgia are not far from the borders. The departure point of Pittsburgh, southbound, implies travel along the U.S. Highway system, as opposed to the limited-access Eisenhower Interstate System, and into the Appalachian Mountains.

I’ve got my diesel wound up,
And she’s running like never before.

To simply state “diesel” in this time implies the large, high-speed tractors involved in interstate commerce and almost unique to North America.

There’s a speed zone ahead, all right,
I don’t see a cop in sight.

A “speed zone” is an area close to a county seat where peace officers lie in wait to generate revenue through traffic fines. In this era the approach to communities were often well signed. This is further implication that he is driving on something other than a limited-access highway.

Six days on the road and I’m gonna make it home tonight.

According to regulations prior to 1982, after five days of driving no more than fourteen hours per day “truckers” were required to lay off for no less than thirty-six hours. “Six days on the road” implies the end of a particularly prolonged, although not uncommon period of work.

I got ten forward gears,

A five-speed standard transmission coupled with a two-speed differential was a common configuration on large trucks until the 1980s.

And a Georgia Overdrive.

A “Georgia Overdrive” is not a device or method of assembly, but rather a driving technique used in mountainous areas similar to the land southbound from Pittsburgh. The method is intended to build momentum on the down slope, for the purpose of increased fuel economy or greater speed. In short, one utilizes the inherent weight of the truck, and possibly its cargo, to increase forward momentum.

I’m taking little white pills,
And my eyes are open wide.

An explicit reference to over-the-counter epinephrine, used for it’s
amphetamine-like effects. Until the early 1990’s these little white pills could be found at almost every conveinience store and truck stop in the United States.

I just passed a ‘Jimmy’ and a ‘White':

Jimmy is a familiar term for a GMC truck.
White is another make of large truck.

I’ve been passin’ everything in sight.
Six days on the road and I’m gonna make it home tonight.

Well, it seems like a month,
Since I kissed my baby good-bye.
I could have a lot of women,
But I’m not like some other guys.
I could find one to hold me tight,
But I could never believe that it’s right.
Six days on the road and I’m gonna make it home tonight.

I.C.C. is checking on down the line.
I’m a little overweight and my log’s three days behind.

The Interstate Commerce Commission once regulated individual drivers and vehicles, through state departments of transit or equivalent. The ICC was abolished in 1995, and its role taken by individual state agencies. Among the considerations of the ICC is overall vehicle weight, weight per axle, and verification of handwritten logbooks recording the driver’s location and mileage. Multiple sets of such logs were both illegal and ubiquitous. References to keeping these different sets of records straight are found in the lore of the long-haul driver.

But nothing bothers me tonight.
I can dodge all the scales all right,

On the U.S. Highway system the ICC inspection stations or “scales” were well established locations with plenty of signage. As such, when a driver became familiar with an area the scales could be avoided. This also implies his degree of experience as a long-haul driver.

Six days on the road and I’m gonna make it home tonight.

Well my rig’s a little old,
But that don’t mean she’s slow.
There’s a flame from her stack,
And the smoke’s rolling black as coal.

In the era of hand-operated chokes, he is running the fuel-air mixture rich with high throttle in the interest of proceeding with all deliberate speed.

My hometown’s coming in sight,
If you think I’m happy your right.
Six days on the road and I’m gonna make it home tonight.

One Comment
  1. Anonymous permalink
    Monday, 28 July, 2008 11:21

    I could have a lot of women,
    But I’m not like some other guys.
    I could find one to hold me tight,
    But I could never believe that it’s right.
    “Lot Lizards” are prostitutes that hang out at truck stops. They basically look like every other common drug addicted street person, hense the scaley skin and premature aging.

    Like

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