Thanks to the truckers
Between radio tours and releasing his new album, country music singer Leland Martin never forgets his biggest fans – truckers.
Issued on Magnet Records, his self-titled album, Leland Martin, hit stores nationwide Oct. 4. A special, 17-song version of the album is only available in truckstops – TravelCenters of America, Love’s and Petro Stopping Centers. Eight of the songs Martin wrote himself.
The album’s three acoustic bonus tracks are Martin’s first hit, “Stone Cold Fingers,” and remakes of Del Reeves’ famous 1968 song, “Looking at the World through a Windshield,” and Dave Dudley’s hit “Six Days on the Road.” Martin dedicated the new album to his fans in the trucking industry.
“I always promised drivers that I would do something for them,” Martin says. “I want them to know how much they mean to me.”
Martin got the idea for his first album when he was hauling propane gas. “I was in a hurry to get somewhere,” he says on his website, www.lelandmartin.com, “and I thought, ‘If you people will just keep your pants on, I’ll be there in a little while.’ That gave me the idea to write a song called ‘Keep Your Pants On.’ I thought it was so darn good that if somebody would hear it I might get somewhere. So me and a friend got enough money to demo it, along with one more song I’d written called ‘I Just Want To Sing.’”
His first album, Keep Your Pants On, didn’t get much airplay on the radio, but Martin hit a turning point with a new song he wrote – “I Wish I Had Long Legs (Like Alan Jackson).” This song earned for Martin his first national attention.
Another album later, he was invited to play a songwriters’ night at Nashville’s famed Bluebird Cafe, and there he caught the eye – and ear – of music producer Michael Burns. Martin recorded a new version of “Long Legs” on Simply Traditional in 2002 and reached the Billboard charts for the first time. He had another, bigger hit with “Stone Cold Fingers” that same year.
Martin’s latest album features the song “Wrecking Machine,” about a rodeo bull, and also includes several gospel tracks. There is something for the whole family, Martin says.
Martin knows something about family. He grew up with eight brothers and sisters in Success, Mo., where he began playing music in bars as a young teenager. Married in 1974 at 16 years old, Martin continued to pursue music on the weekends while driving a truck and working at the local sawmill. Martin’s father drove a truck his entire life, and Martin’s allegiance to the trucking industry inspired him to tip his hat to drivers with his fourth album.
“I know how hard it is to drive and have a family,” Martin says. “It means a lot to finally get to pay tribute to drivers for having the guts to do it.”
Martin added, “I’ll probably cut a whole album for truckers at some point.”
He plans to tour after his album has gained recognition, but he says he’d be happy if his only fans were drivers. He performed in October at the World’s Largest Truck Convoy for Special Olympics in Lakeland, Fla.
“I want me and my drivers out there to prove to the industry that this is not a bad industry,” he says. “Drivers can turn your album into gold.”
Martin and his wife Pamela currently live in Missouri, although Martin frequently travels between home and Nashville to work.