Red Sovine released the song “Phantom 309” in 1967, almost a decade before CB truckin’ songs became unavoidable. It’s about a haunted 18-wheeler, and the story behind one of its verses is quite true, to the point that town residents worked to erect a monument in honor of the real-life hero in September 2014.
Tommy Faile wrote the lyrics to Sovine’s single in 1966. The song was covered by dozens of artists afterward, including Jack Bond, Dave Dudley and Tom Waits.
The song is a first-person narrative by a hitchhiker, who’s trying to return home from the West Coast. After three days, at a crossroad in the pouring rain, he flags down a tractor-trailer driven by a guy named “Big Joe.”
Big Joe drives through the night and drops the narrator at a truck stop, flipping him a dime for a cup of coffee before heading off into the darkness.
The narrator walks into the truck stop and talks to the waitress about Big Joe’s generosity. She lets him know that he was picked up by a “ghost driver,” and that ten years earlier, at the very same intersection where he was picked up, Big Joe swerved to avoid hitting a school bus full of children. He lost control of the truck and was killed in the wreck… read more >