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November 16

Kathy Mattea’s “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses”

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“Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses” recorded by Kathy Mattea has a theme about retirement. This kind of subject is not very often heard. Kathy Mattea expressed that idea in that love song. Written by Paul Nelson and Gene Nelson, it was released in March 1988 as the second single from her Untasted Honey album. In 1988 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and Canada’s RPM country charts, the song topped in them.

Envision what your life will be like in 20-, 30-, 40-years’ time in retirement? Will you travel the world? Start a side gig? Spend the winter months at your second home right on the beach? For Charlie, the character in the song “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses”, it is about his last run after 30 years on the road as a truck driver. He is excited to go home to his home—his wife. This is in the lines “Ten more miles on his four-day run” and “A few more songs on the all-night radio”.  Charlie cannot wait to be with his wife and spend the rest of his life beside her – that’s the symbol of two dozen roses.

Video of “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses”

Directors Jim May and Coke Sams made the video. The Pie Wagon, a small diner off Music Row in Nashville is where the first scene takes place. In the video, we see a truck driver who asks for Kathy’s autograph. The autograph is a present for his wife. Throughout the video, there are scenes of Kathy on her tour bus—performing with her band. Here there are also scenes of the trucker. In the end, the driver arrives home. As his wife greets him, he hands her a dozen roses mentioned in the lyrics. As they walk arm in arm into their house, Kathy turns off the lights to the bus. At the end, the last shot is showing various trucks driving on the highway. This is the same scene shown at the beginning of the video.


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