Music

Country Rewind: Dick Curless Tells a Chilling Tale With 'A Tombstone Every Mile'

Hilltop Records

For proof that great country songs aren't tied to any specific region of America, look no further than Maine-born, Massachusetts-raised singer Dick Curless' "A Tombstone Every Mile."

Curless (March 17, 1932- May 25, 1995) sang truck driving songs back when Dave Dudley, Red Simpson and others achieved country music stardom through tales of big rigs and cross-country treks.

"A Tombstone Every Mile," written by Dan Fulkerson, became Curless' breakthrough hit upon its 1965 release. The tale of a dangerous (and allegedly haunted) stretch in Maine called the "Haynesville Woods" inspired a song that addresses the risks taken by truckers during winter weather. Curless' deep, booming voice plus lyrics that tell ominous, tragic truths make for a great song among the trucker anthems that now sound like novelty sides.

In the same year Roger Miller's "King of the Road" became a crossover hit, "A Tombstone Every Mile" spent two weeks at number 5 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart.

Curless went on to tour with Buck Owens, build an overseas audience and chart other songs, including 1965's "Six Times a Day (The Trains Came Down)," 1970's "Big Wheel Cannonball" and the gorgeous 1973 deep cut "China Nights (Shina No Yoru)." Yet none of those accomplishments matched the staying power of his warnings about the dangers of trucking.

"A Tombstone Every Mile" Lyric:

All you big and burly men who roll the trucks along
Better listen you'll be thankful when you hear my song
You have really got it made if you're haulin' goods
Anyplace on earth but those Haynesville Woods

It's a stretch of road up north in Maine
That's never ever ever seen a smile
If they'd buried all them truckers lost in them woods
There'd be a tombstone every mile
Count 'em off there'd be a tombstone every mile

When you're loaded with potatoes and you're headed down
You've got to drive the woods to get to Boston town
When it's winter up in Maine better check it over twice
That Haynesville road is just a ribbon of ice
It's a stretch of road up north in Maine

When you're talking to a trucker that's been haulin' goods
Down that stretch of road in Maine they call the Haynesville Woods
He'll tell you that dying and going down below
Won't be half as bad as driving on that road of ice and snow
It's a stretch of road up north in Maine

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Country Rewind: Dick Curless Tells a Chilling Tale With 'A Tombstone Every Mile'