Working as a lorry driver means choosing a life on the road, and you're often out for days at a time. It can be a challenging and fulfilling career and, for those who work hard and have access to a freight exchange, there's no doubt you'll be kept very busy. Because, as well as enabling you to bid for available loads in real time, membership of a freight exchange affords the opportunity to make those long haul trips pay dividends, by picking up lucrative return loads.
But while it can be one of the most rewarding jobs in the world, long distance driving can also be quite a solitary life. So, when you're out there on the road chasing the white lines hour after hour, there's nothing better than a little company. When you can't have your mates from the freight exchange community actually in the cab with you, the next best thing is a few good tunes!
Here are three that will keep your toes tapping.
Phantom 309: Red Sorvine
If you listen to the haunting lyrics of this driving favourite, you'll realise there's more to it than first meets the ear. The song tells the story of a hitchhiker who is picked up by a friendly trucker called Big Joe in his big-rig, "Phantom 309".
So far so good, right? Just another story about one of the characters you meet on the road? But the twist in the tale comes when Big Joe drops off his hitchhiker (who is, naturally, the one now singing the song) at a roadside café, with some spare change to buy himself a coffee. When the hitcher recounts his tale to the waiter he is told that he's had an encounter with a "ghost driver". Big Joe actually died many years before, in a horrific accident when he swerved to avoid a school bus. As legend has it, now he travelled the roads in his beloved rig in perpetuity...
Me & Bobby McGee: Roger Miller/Janis Joplin
One of the most memorable and best-loved tunes of our times, Me & Bobby McGee tells the story of two drifters who meet and fall in love while travelling the American countryside. Written by the legendary Kris Kristofferson, the original version by Roger Miller has been overshadowed by the far more famous cover by Janis Joplin – whose gravelly voice hits just the right notes for this tale of love and, of course (as country songs are wont), eventual loss. As the song progresses, the couple shares beer, stories and adventures as they make their way to California. However, despite their love, Bobby (the song's namesake) decides she's ready to give up her itinerant life and the couple have a bittersweet parting of the ways.
Roll on (18 Wheeler): Alabama
It's almost impossible not to sing along as you roll on down the highway to the strains of this catchy pounding rock tune. Alabama's driving anthem reached Number 1 in 1984 and, even for those who don't quite know how they now it, the tune is enduringly familiar.
The lyrics recount the story of a hardworking truckie who is on his way home to his family in a blizzard. During the treacherous weather his wife and children are informed that a truck like his has been found jack knifed and immobile in a snowdrift. The worst is feared, but the trucker's family always has faith, singing the song he used to sing to them – "Roll On". In a happy ending, the last verse sees the trucker safe and well with a phone call to his family. If you're looking for a happy ending, you can't get better than this!
Best Beats for the Road
While the days of the mix tape might be well and truly over, music has never been more accessible – and the choice is virtually limitless. If you're looking for the perfect tunes for a day on the road, you can't go past these three, which could well have been written with the long distance lorry driver in mind!
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their online freight exchange, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching loads and with available drivers. Over 4,500 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.