Trucker Music Week Continues: As Promised, Here’s Red Sovine

Jan 16th, 2009 // 7 Comments

I have to thank commenter “disinterested 3rd party” for taking note of my Red Sovine-related tag the other day and giving me an excuse to post about one of my favorite artists of all time. The baritone-voiced Sovine wasn’t an exceptionally talented singer, but through persistence and being in the right place at the right time he managed to make for himself a quality career with stretches of some of the most entertaining country songs I’ve heard.

Sovine is best known these days for his songs about trucking—fair, considering those were his biggest hits—but he had a decent career before that late-’60s resurgence, performing with Hank Williams on the “Louisiana Hayride” and eventually taking Hank’s place on the show and recording a number of semi-popular singles before his career stalled out during Nashville’s Countrypolitan days.

From Sovine’s pre-spoken word days, “I Know You’re Married (But I Love You Still)”:

Then, somehow even before the trucking phenomenon hit popular culture with C.W. McCall in 1976, Sovine hit it big on the country charts in 1965 with “Giddy-Up Go”, the story of a father who reconnects with his estranged son through the magic of citizens band radio. Sadly, YouTube seems to have missed that single, but thankfully, a number of his follow-up tracks working the same trucker’s tears theme are on the site.

“Teddy Bear”:

and the sequel, “Little Joe” (the kid can walk again!):

Still, Sovine wasn’t married to the trucker genre. He could turn any theme into a spoken-word tearjerker. “Little Rosa” features a character of unknown ethnicity telling the story of his daughter, who was killed by a train, in broken English.

Also, Sovine made a bit of a side career out of Christmas music, including “Faith in Santa,” which tells the story of a runaway’s conversation with Santa Claus.

They just don’t make them like this these days.

Sovine died of a heart attack in 1980, somewhat appropriately while on the road, but throughout the ’80s, his music was plugged on late-night TV ads, including one my father must have seen; Sovine’s music was in regular rotation in the pickup truck during my elementary school days. There’s certainly a heavy schtick factor to Sovine’s spoken-word era, and there’s probably an ironic element to my enjoyment of his catalog, but I truly appreciate how uniquely bizarre these songs are. It just amazes me that for several years, Sovine telling the story of a disabled child addicted to CB radio or a ethnic stereotype weeping over his dead daughter would actually make it on the airwaves.

Red Sovine [Official site]

  1. Anonymous

    This is classic!

  2. Jupiter8

    “Honky Tonks, Truckers & Tears” which came out on Ace (UK) a few years back is the comp to get…one of the other ones I purchased was a bit dicey…

  3. elvissinatra

    Also worth seeking out is Tom Waits’ cover of “Big Joe and the Phantom 309″ on Nighthawks at the Diner. Classic.

  4. cockfightbarmitzvah

    In addition to “Faith In Santa”, there’s also “Here It Is Christmas”. Its quite possibly the most suicidal Christmas song ever, so keep it on hand as an antidote for when you’re sick of listening to cheery holiday music next December.


  5. the earl grey

    red sovine = kool.

    jeremy tepper is a pigg with bad skin

  6. cassidy2099

    Until recently, I was the production director and weekend DJ at a country radio station in a small market. The show I ran on Sunday mornings was all old country, and the most requested song during my two years running the show was “Teddy Bear”, hands down. And after I would play TB, the phones would light up again for more Sovine as well as the sequel song, not sung by Red, entitled “Teddy Bear’s Last Ride”. While it was nice to see the interest, I rank this music as the worst. Sorry.

  7. disinterested 3rd party

    Thanks, Dan. Red Sovine was the soundtrack for many an ill advised road trip in college. My grandparents loved him as well. It was probably for his singular mixture of naked sentimentality and what we would now call shocking political incorrectness. He’s a national treasure.

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