I'm not sure what year I wrote this song. I've always had the romantic notion that it was the first thing I composed on my new Martin D-35, which I purchased in 1976. But I have a clear recollection of performing it the previous year in the break room at the phone company building where Nancy (Matt's mom) and I worked. The last half of the 70's are kind of a blur, so I really can't be sure. I do know that the version that appeared on the Won Out album was recorded in 1977 during the same session that produced "You Know Me Blues" and, of course, "Big Ass".
Most likely it was written in '75 because it deals with the beginning of my relationship with Nancy. I've always considered "Trucks.." my first real song - the first time I was able to combine a little Bonkeenie silliness, country-pop musical sensibility and still pass the Hanamura lyrical content test. Plus it's got that nifty little riff - the first time I'd written a song around a guitar motif. I can't remember where I came up the idea about the trucks themselves, but the rest of the song is pretty straightforward - it's clearly a "this thing is just starting" song. At he phone company we worked odd hours - graveyard shifts, split shifts, swing shifts, etc. - and further down you were on the seniority totem pole the less say you had in when you worked. For this reason I would sometimes find myself coming to work when she was leaving and vice-versa. That's the complaint at the heart of the song's chorus. The songs also formalizes one of my most prevalent lyrical conceits: "Look at me - the victim of love".
Including this song on the album was a forgone conclusion the moment it was written even though it was actually recorded a few years later. Arlene and I took another crack at it at the Xandor session with her playing a Fender Rhodes but it didn't work as well as the '77 cassette version (on which she's playing a Wurlitzer 200). In the later, unused version - and pretty much every performance of the song since - the lyrics are slightly altered. On the record in the last verse I sing "I'm not Rumpelstiltskin but I'm still pretty tough", but I always liked Greg Reznick's line: "...but I still know my stuff" better. But that line hadn't been written at the time of the first recording.
(opening riff is played over the first two lines)
I'm really a mess now - she made me that way
Sometimes I'm so high and then I'm so down
Should I take the next exit or get out of town
I'm feeling so bad
But she's working nights now and I'm working days
I don't get to see her but what can I say
And I had a vision that the harbor was dry
G Am G
And the ships were all flying like trucks in the sky
I'm feeling so helpless. What if she knows?
Would she understand me if I came out and said
That I really love her or would she just shake her head
And say I'm a fool?
I'm watching a newsreel that shown (sometimes "thrown") through a wall
I smoke and that's dangerous, I drink and that's rough
I'm not Rumpelstiltskin but I'm still pretty tough (or "still know my stuff")
And I'm still a fool
But she's working nights now and I've got the blues
Butterflies in my stomach and rocks in my shoes
Oh, if I could just see her without straining my eyes
When the stars are like headlights of the trucks in the sky
|Sparky and Greg perform together in '74|
|..and together again in 2008 with the Backorders|