Phantom 309

I never thought I would ever post a trucker song but…it was one of the first singles I remember playing as a child…plus it is getting close to Halloween so here you go.

This song creeped me out when I was a kid. It’s about a hitchhiker that is thumbing a ride and gets picked up by a Truck with a driver named “Big Joe”.

He drops him off safely at a truck stop at night and the hitchhiker tells the waiter the story. The waiter then tells the hitchhiker that he got picked up by a ghost named “Big Joe”.

10 years before, Big Joe was driving his rig and had to swerve at the intersection where he picked up the hitchhiker to miss a school bus full of kids. Big Joe was killed and since then he occasionally picks up stranded people and gives them a ride to the cafe. Apparently, Big Joe is a cool ghost.

How this record was in my house when I was 4 is a mystery to me. My dad had Merle Haggard music and my mom had Elvis albums and my sister would never have this. Not one of them were into trucking songs…but there it was all the same. It was sung by Red Sovine in 1967… The song peaked at #9 in the Country Charts.

Tom Waits covered the song also…

It even has a connection to Pee-Wee Herman… from Wikipedia

In the movie Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, protagonist Pee-wee Herman, hitchhiking at night, is given a ride by trucker Large Marge, who proceeds to tell him of a horrible accident that occurred on the night in question years before, scaring him so that he requests to be let off sooner than he planned. Arriving at a truck stop, she advises him to tell the wait staff that Large Marge sent him, and drives away cackling. When he walks in the restaurant and mentions her name, the staff and regulars confirm that Marge perished in that very accident.


The Tom Waits version

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

7 thoughts on “Phantom 309”

  1. An era of trucker songs- Red Simpson made a career out of truck songs. Who will ever forget “I’m A Truck.” Phantom 309 was a memorable one. I am sure there is- or at least should be a complication album out there of great trucking songs.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like that tune. Had totally forgotten about it. For a similar theme, check out Stan Ridgway’s ‘Camoflauge’ about a very big Marine helping a young one in a battle… without too much of a spoler “this was a very strange Marine.”

    Liked by 1 person

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