Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler)

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"Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler)"
Single by Alabama
from the album Roll On
B-side "Food On the Table"
Released January 6, 1984
Format 7"
Recorded November 10, 1983
Genre Country
Length 3:42 (single edit)
4:21 (album version)
Label RCA Nashville
13716
Writer(s) Dave Loggins
Producer(s) Harold Shedd
Alabama
Alabama singles chronology
"Lady Down on Love"
(1983)
"Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler)"
(1984)
"When We Make Love"
(1984)

"Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler)" is a song written by Dave Loggins, and recorded by American country music band Alabama. It was released in January 1984 as the first single and title track to the band's album Roll On. It became the group's 12th straight No. 1 single on the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart.

Story[edit]

"Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler)" was Alabama's contribution to an honored tradition in country music: the tribute to the American truck driver. Here, the story is that of a man who drives an over-the-road semitrailer truck to support his wife and three children.

As the story begins, the man (referred to only as "Daddy") leaves for a several-day trip through the Midwest. When the children gather around their mother in sadness, she says 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"); those lyrics serve as the refrain of the song.In some versions,the song begins with a CB radio call saying "How about ya,Alabama,Roll On",which was recorded from an actual CB call placed to Alabama's bus in the late 70s.

In the song's second verse, the man's wife (known here as "Mama") receives a late-night phone call from an unnamed source, informing her that the highway patrol had found a semitrailer truck jackknifed in a snowbank along an interstate highway in Illinois. Despite learning that the search for her husband had been called off due to the fierce blizzard, and that Daddy had not been found at any of the local houses or motels, Mama remains confident that Daddy will be found alive. The woman and her children are left to pray for Daddy's safety, and in sadness and anticipation of a long night of worrying, sing the refrain to the song to comfort them.

In the final verse, Mama and the children wait up all night long, thinking that the next phone call will bring the worst possible news. However, "the Man upstairs" (an American reference to God) was listening – when the phone rings and Mama answers it, the voice on the other end is that of Daddy, apparently safe and sound. He asks if they had been singing that song during the search for him.

Single Edit and Alternate Versions[edit]

The album version of "Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler)" is approximately 40 seconds longer than the 7-inch single released for radio airplay and retail sale. The album version can be distinguished by sound effects of a semitrailer truck (both the engine starting and, at the song's end, traveling down the highway), CB radio chatter and — toward the end of the song — an extra repetition of the refrain.

Much like the Greatest Hits 3 version of "If You're Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band)", the version of "Roll On" on Greatest Hits 2 is slightly different as well, featuring a quick fadeout to omit the truck sounds at the end.

On the Livin' Lovin' Rockin' Rollin' box set, the album version is presented in its entirety with no crossfade to "Carolina Mountain Dewe", as well as a slight extension of the opening truck sound effects.

Cover Versions[edit]

A cover version by David Allan Coe appears on the album "20 Greatest Hits". The song was also covered by Saddle Tramps and appears on the Various Artists compilation album "Nev Nicholls Presents Truckin Towards 2000". [1]


Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1984) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles 1
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 1

References[edit]

Preceded by
"Elizabeth"
by The Statler Brothers
Billboard Hot Country Singles
number-one single

March 24, 1984
Succeeded by
"Let's Stop Talkin' About It"
by Janie Fricke
Preceded by
"Going, Gone, Gone"
by Lee Greenwood
RPM Country Tracks
number-one single

March 31, 1984