Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Alabama, “Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler)”

“Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler)”


Written by David Loggins

Radio & Records

#1 (5 weeks)

February 10 – March 19, 1984


#1 (1 week)

March 24, 1984

A lead single from a new Alabama album was an event during this part of the eighties, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that “Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler)” spent five weeks at No. 1 on the Radio & Records chart.  A catchy new single with a singalong chorus from the biggest selling act the genre had ever seen? They were probably spinning that record every 30 minutes on some stations.

I can understand the appeal to a certain extent.  It’s a hell of a singalong chorus.  But it feels like a Disney rewrite of those haunting mining tragedy songs, where the dad goes off to work, word comes back about a disaster, and the family waits at home for good news that never comes.  Here, a dad hits the road, they find his rig in a snowy ditch, and “Oh, no! He’s not in the rig or any of the neighboring motels!!!”  But no worries, he’s fine.  He taught them a song to sing to keep him safe, and they sang it, so all is well.

Randy Owen oversings this one so badly, as if he shows enough enthusiasm, he can create the narrative tension that doesn’t exist in the lyrics. It’s incredibly cheesy, but it’s not interesting enough to be a guilty pleasure.  

Thankfully, there’s a much better eighteen wheeler hit waiting for us down the road.

“Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler)” gets a C

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. I admit the nostalgia blinds me, as this is my dad’s favorite Alabama song and one of his all-time favorites. I absolutely love it, but I do see the cheesiness of it.

  2. The intro and outro were so cool to my ears as a ten year-old. This song sounded immediate, even setting the opening scene with momma in the kitchen.

    Maybe mention of a mid-west run and snow storms resonated with a kid from Minnesota?

    The over-singing is the sizzle on this song. Don’t go looking for the steak, because its chopped steak at best.

    Alabama has me happily on the upswing of their string here at the end of their bouncing yo-yo musical output.

  3. I have read your entire 90’s series and now this 80’s one and it’s clear you do not like Alabama. Even the songs you compliment, you do so almost begrudgingly. These are iconic songs that so many love and you act like they are songs that shouldn’t even have made the top 40, let alone top the charts!

    • Several eighties and nineties Alabama No. 1 singles have gotten an “A,” and several more will.

      Most of my favorite Alabama singles of the nineties didn’t go No. 1 (“We Can’t Love Like This Anymore,” “Pass it On Down,” “It Works,” “Angels Among Us.”)

      All of my favorite Alabama singles of the eighties did. We just haven’t gotten up to most of them yet!

  4. When it comes to Alabama songs I’m gonna have to disagree big time on this one. This is a classic and hits all the sweet spots that a good song should.

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