We Found It in the Teamsters Archives

Submitted by LHRC on Tue, 07/31/2012 - 10:39

In August 1963 Teamster magazine received a letter from James A. Watson, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 402, Muscle Shoals, Alabama, asking that the following item be printed in the magazine: “Brother Earl Green, a member of Chauffeurs and Sales Drivers Local Union No. 402, is the writer of the song ‘Six Days on the Road’ that is making the charts today.  Brother Green has also written the answer to ‘Six Days on the Road’ which will be published at a later date.”

Earl Green’s day job was transporting floor tiles from Alabama to Pittsburgh for Robbin’s Floor Products of Tuscumbia, Alabama.  He also moonlighted as a studio musician at the Muscle Shoals Sound Studios.  Another Muscle Shoals session man, Carl Montgomery, shares the “Six Days” writing credit with Earl Green.  (One source claims that Carl was also Earl’s long-haul driving partner and that “Six Days on the Road” is based on their over-the-road experiences.)

The song’s lyrics refer to passing other trucks (“I just passed a Jimmy and a White/ I’ve been passing everything in sight), dodging weigh stations (“But nothing bothers me tonight/I can dodge all the scales all right), taking amphetamines to stay awake (“I’m taking little white pills/And my eyes are open wide) and other references to less than by-the-book truck driving behavior.  Yet, in the end you share the relief of completing the long-haul from Pittsburgh back to Alabama: “My hometown’s coming in sight/ If you think I’m happy you’re right/ Six days on the road and I’m gonna make it home tonight.”

Green and Montgomery made a demo tape of their song and slipped it to Grand Ole Opry great Jimmy C. Newman.  Newman thought the song was not his style and offered the tape to Dave Dudley.  Dudley recorded “Six Days” as an afterthought B-side for his song “I Feel a Cry Coming On.”  It was “Six Days” though that caught the attention of drivers playing truck stop juke boxes and country DJs, eventually hitting #2 on the country charts, selling over one million copies and winning Dave Dudley a contract with Mercury Records.  (The original record was on Golden Wing Records, Dudley’s own label.)

Teamster magazine ran Jim Watson’s item in the September 1963 issue noting that “If the song ‘Six Days on the Road’ which is currently making the charts has an authentic ring to the over-the-road truck driver, it should have.  It was written by a Teamster . . .”

“Six Days on the Road” has been covered by Johnny Cash, Taj Mahal, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Steve Earle and Sawyer Brown among many others and remains a classic of the trucking song musical genre.