Before the era of modern music we have today, truck-driving country songs were performed as narratives about truck driving and truck drivers with the element of music. This rose to popularity during the 60s to 80s as truck drivers mostly listened to the radio while driving.
This era finally paved the way for Red Sovine‘s calling for releasing music: to give tribute and sing to truck drivers, earning him the title of “The King of Truck Driving Music” after having over 30 singles topping country music charts for two decades.
Wanna travel back in time and hear the top 10 Red Sovine songs? Let’s check it out!
1. “Teddy Bear”
Released in June 1976 as the lead single from Sovine’s album with the same name, the character named “Teddy Bear” is a wheelchair-bound boy who, after losing his own truck-driving father, uses a CB radio to make friends with truckers. The sentimental story was a crossover success as it climbed #1 five weeks after its release, topping #8 in the 1976 country charts, and reaching its peak at #40 on the Billboard Hot 100.
2. “Little Joe”
A sequel from the song “Teddy Bear,” this continued Teddy Bear’s tale from the perspective of a truck driver’s dog, who got involved in an accident to save his master’s life. Teddy Bear appears in this song as a character who was by this point older and seemed healthy, was able to walk by miracle. Teddy Bear played an important role in bringing Little Joe and his now-blind master back together.
This has been said to be a song released by Sovine in response to another Capitol Records singer Diana Williams who made the first sequel song, “Teddy Bear’s Last Ride,” which has allegedly infuriated Sovine. The said song is recounted from the perspective of a friend of Teddy Bear’s mother, implying that the boy’s paralysis is a symptom of a fatal illness that would ultimately cause his death.
3. “Why Baby Why”
This is the first collaboration of Sovine and Webb Pierce for the rendition of this song which was originally recorded by George Jones. Surprisingly, this was his first #1 hit on the Country Songs chart, paving the way for his popularity later on.
4. “Giddyup Go”
Sovine’s first significant truck driving hit, “Giddyup Go,” tells the story of a sentimental father-son reunion that takes place at a highway truck stop. The strain of the father’s frequent absences while driving a truck gradually takes a toll on the marriage, and one day the trucker arrives home to discover his wife and son gone without a trace. Near the end of the song, the reunion is played out when he meets his son through a “Giddyup Go” nameplate from his truck.
It was Sovine’s second #1 single after “Why Baby Why.” It spent six weeks at the top of the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart in January and February 1966 and peaked at #2 in the U.S. The Billboard Hot 100.
5. “Phantom 309”
The song tells the story of a hitchhiker who accepts a ride from a trucker who later reveals himself to be the ghost of a man who died decades ago, risking his life to prevent a terrible collision with a school bus carrying children.
This was released in 1967 by Red Sovine as a single. It was a major hit, reaching its high on the Billboard Magazine Country chart at #9. Rather than being sung, the lyrics are spoken.
6. “Missing You”
A song written both by Red Sovine and Dale Noe. Sovine first released it in 1955, but it went on to have a big pop chart success in 1961. The song is a Countrypolitan arrangement of the ballad “Missing You,” which was recorded by Ray Peterson on his own Dunes label. The Billboard “Top 100” chart ranked “Missing You” at No. 29.
7. “Little Rosa”
This is another rendition song recorded both by Sovine and Pierce. Considered as one of his big hits, this eventually climbed up to the #5 spot in the Billboard Magazine Hot Country Songs.
8. “Lay Down Sally”
His final charting single during his lifetime, “Lay Down Sally,” was originally sung by Eric Clapton. Sovine’s rendition, which peaked at #70 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles list, was quite similar to the Clapton original—aside from the guitar bridge that occurs midway through the song.
9. “Old Rivers”
It was written by Cliff Crofford. It is about a man who recalls his acquaintance with an elderly farmer from his youth. Walter Brennan, an actor and musician, is best known for his rendition of the song, but Red Sovine also covered this song.
10. “Colorado Kool-Aid”
Written by Phil Thomas, this song was first recorded and released by Johnny Paycheck in 1977. It is the story of a man who had his ear removed after spitting in the ear of a Mexican American customer in a bar. Sovine’s rendition was released in 1979.
Here are other Red Sovine Songs and renditions you might love:
Red Sovine has surely created amazing country trucker songs during his career that touched the lives of truck drivers. Aside from this, he has displayed his versatility as he also created a rendition of several beautiful country songs with different collaborators.
Even after his death, Red Sovine songs are performed by some artists who created versions of his greatest hits. Despite the passage of time, Sovine still left an impact on the country music community, most especially to our ever-hardworking truck drivers.