Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
A truckin' man likely doesn't ask for or need too much. He can't possibly even want all that much. A full tank and maybe a home-cooked meal every other day or so. He goes where he's told to go, drives through nights and days making sure that the load of potatoes or lumber or livestock gets to where it needs to be, when it needs to be there. He's held captive by the cab, with the solid yellow line running along the right side of his tractor trailer and the white dotted line is hugging his right, zipping from in front of him and disappearing into his blind spot quicker than a heartbeat. He's got nothing but rattling metal and humming tires for company. So he pulls out his smokes, opens that mega-bag of beef jerky and pulls that 64-ounce big gulp cup to his lips for another swig of something to keep his ass awake and jittery if need be. Every day's a long day. Every night's a longer night as the scenery goes dark and everything feels even more the same than it does when it all can be seen plainly. They need something to listen to, these truckers do, so they don't have to think about failed marriages, kids they barely see, traffic gridlock, the continuance of a terrible economy and their mostly sedentary, physical well-being that could very well include mostly clogged arteries and a good road stink. Austin legend Dale Watson knows these truckers. He knows all of the highways and interstates that they feel as their extended fingers and legs, their alibis and accomplices. His brother drives his tour bus and both of the Watson boys have the look of two men who have a long line of truckin' blood sliding beneath their hairy arms and through their chests. These men have a romantic relationship with the roads that they follow and help to go to pieces from all of the weight of their shipments and the rumbling pound they forcibly radiate. Watson, the old road dog, makes the kind of country music that's not being made by guys like Big Kenny and John Rich, who have run the Nashville scene for years now and have furthered the bastardization of what that blue-blooded country music of yore used to sound like and stand for. The weariness and the stir crazy zaniness that seems to churn up a perfect storm of oddity and homogeny in truck drivers, who burn the midnight oil and diesel fuel down to the bottom of the barrel while letting the monotony take them on the only kinds of tiny missions that they can make while still getting their jobs done. These are self-serving endeavors that are meant to fulfill some of their basic needs and the highways are dotted with joints that help them meet these needs as easily as possible, with direct exits and plenty of parking. Watson chronicles all of these activities - the hunt for a honky tonk for a nightcap (if possible), the more engrossing hunt for fine looking ladies (or girlie magazines if that's the closest they can get) and something to fill their bellies. He turns these activities into countless different stories - singing of the joys of a truck stop break that yields another Coca-Cola and a tape of Ray Price's golden oldies, which provides him with enough company to keep moving on down the road. It's as if a slice of warm apple pie, some GOOD country and western songs and a short but sweet conversation with a cute, young waitress at the small town greasy spoon will be enough to sustain, enough to warm. Watson takes us on these long hauls so that we don't have to make them ourselves.