Big Trucks to Nashville
Double G Trucking company driver lands song on Johnny Cash tribute record
By Todd Dills
When exactly Larry Morris got the bug that led to a burgeoning side job songwriting is hard to say. He started playing the guitar in the 1990s, and in 2001 his long on-road time allowed for the germination of new song ideas to the point where he began to actively pursue publishing his work.
Two things are certain, though. For one, Morris is no doubt having his day in the sun. His “Cotton Fields to Nashville” tune, about the life of country legend Johnny Cash, is the first single on a newly released tribute record to the legendary artist, and Morris has a song being considered by country music superstar Keith Urban, among other songs already sold. For two, Morris well knows when he started driving truck. “I started out in 1973,” says the Missouri native, fulfilling a dream he’d had “since the fifth or sixth grade,” though it was less than a dream trucking job, Morris admits. “I was hauling live chickens,” he says. “I swore every day up in the Ozarks that I’d quit every load I had.”
Fortunately, he didn’t and bagged a gig hauling frozen chickens later for John’s Produce “right here in Campbell, Mo.,” where he lives to this day, Morris says. Today he hauls dry freight for small fleet Double G Trucking of Bearden, Ark. Along the way, he married, had two boys and a girl. “People ask me why I didn’t start doing this, songwriting, before now,” Morris, 58, says. “I was too busy trying to raise a family to try to worry about other things.”
And it’s his life’s experience that makes him the writer he is, says producer A.J. Siegler, of the Puxico, Mo.-based studio tasked with the production of the Cash tribute. “Most people who discover that they’re a songwriter, they’ve been writing their whole life and get a lucky break,” Siegler says. “Larry, though he doesn’t write every day, he writes from a life experience and knows how to put it down. He makes it where everybody who hears it can relate to it.”
In other words, all those years on the road have helped.
“Larry’s got 12 or 13 songs in his catalog,” Siegler says, adding that “Cotton Fields to Nashville” rose to the top of more than 2,000 entries submitted to be part of the tribute, which features Johnny Sprang on Cash-esque vocals.
It’ll be available via CDbaby.com, amazon.com and other retailers. Information about Sieglers’s Recording Studio’s involvement is at www.therecordingstudio.org.
Visit www.youtube.com/truckersnews for a video interview with Larry Morris, conducted in Nashville outside the Ryman Auditorium.
FROM COTTON FIELD TO NASHVILLE
LYRICS BY LARRY MORRIS
From the cotton fields to Nashville
He came with a song
He didn’t know it would last that long
He had a story to tell
And a song he knew would sell
Everybody was moving fast
Johnny found a home at last
When his songs hit the stores
Everybody wanted more
He always wore black
Cause he missed his brother Jack
Johnny kept right on strumming
And the hits they kept on coming
When he walked out on the stage
He said, ‘Hello, I’m Johnny Cash’
Seems like he was gone in a flash
Dangerous Drive Wind Turbine Haulers to be Featured on Speed Channel
By Misty Bell
On a normal day, drivers for B&K Trucking make some of the most dangerous hauls known to man — wind turbine components. But recently a few of the drivers had a bigger challenge: making the same haul with a camera crew in-cab.
The Marathon, Wisc.-based hauling company will be featured on the new Speed Channel show “Dangerous Drives,” which will air beginning this month. B&K owner Bruce Lang says he was hesitant about the idea at first. “Initially, when I got the first phone call, I thought, ‘Aw, man, what is this?’ Talked a little more with them and determined they really weren’t going to get in the way, business as usual, just them looking over our shoulders to see what we did.”
Lang says the company hauls turbine components and blades, primarily from Washington State to South Dakota, in addition to other oversize loads. “Dangerous Drives” filmed the trek of three trucks carrying blades each around 145 feet long and 35,000 lbs. through Houston, Texas, en route to South Dakota. The blades will be used for the Titan Wind Project, a joint venture between British Petroleum Alternative Energy and turbine manufacturer Clipper Windpower.
The total length of each truck, with blade, is about 178 feet. Six trucks total made the trip through Houston.
Driver Perry Nievinski, who’s been with B&K for seven years, was in the convoy of trucks that were filmed. He says hauling such large pieces of equipment requires that “you always are paying attention, and you’ve really got to have your head on straight going down the road.”
The biggest challenge having the film crew ride along, he says, was that “it was hard having them there in the right seat, because it’s hard to look out of the right-hand mirror.”
According to a Houston Chronicle article detailing the haul, the huge loads were pulled by Kenworths sporting Cummins 600-hp turbo diesels that generated 1,850 lb.-ft. of torque. Driver Steve Van Zile, who led the train of trucks, told the Chronicle driving these loads through a city like Houston is tough.
“The city traffic is the hardest part because people don’t think,” Van Zile said. “It’s pretty novel to them.”
Speed Channel Vice President of Programming Robert Ecker says the episode “is a real eye-opener. On any given day, the average highway driver is surrounded by vehicles both large and small, and there is certainly nothing at all unusual about cruising down the road alongside an eighteen-wheeler or even a tandem trailer. These heavy-hauler rigs, on the other hand, are something completely different. The sheer size, scale and power of these machines and their ability to transport such massive and heavy equipment across thousands and thousands of miles is truly extraordinary.”
Lang says he and the drivers to be featured in the episode had fun filming the show, but now it’s back to the everyday — continuing these dangerous drives.
“It’s really good work. It’s really satisfying work,” Lang says. “But at the end of the day, you can tell you’ve worked hard. … At the end of the day, it’s time to recline. It’s stressful, and it’s hard work.”
A Lifetime of Safety
And then some as Indiana Wal-Mart driver hits mega-milestone
By Deirdra Drinkard
Norman Hale of St. Paul, Ind., has been in the trucking industry for more than half a century — and this isn’t even his greatest feat. Hale has driven more than 6 million accident-free miles and was recognized as the Indiana Motor Truck Association’s 2008 Trucker of the Year.
During his career Hale, 73, has never been charged with an accident, which has allowed him to rack up the incredible 6.5 million accident-free miles.
“There are problems everywhere you go, but you just have to be vigilant and pay attention everywhere you go,” he says. “Be on your toes all the time, be prepared and be very observant.”
Outside of work, Hale is a committed husband to his wife, Bobbie; a father of four children; and a grandfather of six. He serves his community as a Master Mason, a life member of the Elk’s Lodge and a Scottish Master Mason, and he’s also a member of Zor Shrine and the American Legion.
Hale has driven as an owner-operator and a company driver and drove a truck in the Army from 1959 to 1961. He got his start in the trucking industry after purchasing his first six-wheel truck right after high school in 1953. He currently works for Wal-Mart Transportation driving an International 9400I but says he will not be driving that truck too much longer. With all those miles collected on the International, Wal-Mart will provide Hale a new Peterbilt Model 386 sometime before December.
“I’m looking forward to my Peterbilt,” Hale says. “Those are supposed to be some of the best.”
Working for Wal-Mart Transportation is something Hale says he has enjoyed for the past 13 years. “Everything is first-class with Wal-Mart,” he says. “I just couldn’t be any better. I am well pleased.” He also has served on the company’s accident review and hiring committee.