“Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler)” is a song that Dave Loggins wrote. Through Alabama’s recording, the American country music band was able to popularize the said track. Released in January 1984 by RCA, it was the first single and title track to the band’s album Roll On. Eventually, “Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler)” gave the band their 12th straight chart-topper on the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart.
As a tribute to American truck drivers, Alabama contributed “Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler)” to honor the tradition in country music. The lyrics narrate the story of a man who drives an over-the-road semitrailer truck to support his wife and three children.
What “Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler)” is About
In the first verse of the song, the man referred to as “Daddy” leaves for a trip through the Midwest for several days. When the children gather around their mother in sadness, she says something comforting. She tells them that all they need to do is remember the song their father had taught them.
Roll on highway, roll on along, roll on Daddy ’til you get back home
Roll on family, roll on crew, roll on mama like I asked you to do
These lines serve as the refrain of the song. For some other versions, the song begins with a CB radio call.
How about ya, Alabama, Roll On
They recorded this from an actual CB call placed to Alabama’s bus in the late 70s.
When you hear the second verse of the song, the trucker’s wife called “Mama” receives a late-night phone call from an unnamed source. The person on the line informs her that the highway patrol had found a semitrailer truck. Jackknifed in a snow bank along an interstate highway in Illinois was the semitrailer truck. Despite rescuers calling off the search for her husband due to the fierce blizzard, “Mama” remains calm. Also, when they told her that “Daddy” had not been found at any of the local houses or motels, “Mama” stays confident. She strongly believes that they will find Daddy alive. The woman and her children continuously pray for Daddy’s safety as they wait. In sadness and anticipation of a long night of worrying, the family sings the refrain to comfort themselves.
In the song’s third and final verse, “Mama” and the children wait up all night long. They were thinking that the next phone call will bring heartbreaking news. However, “the Man upstairs”—God—was listening. After the long wait, the phone rings and Mama answers. On the other end is “Daddy’s” voice—it appears that he is safe and sound. During the call, he asks if they had been singing that song while patrollers were searching for him.