Melissa Carper
Aisha Golliher

Melissa Carper Celebrates Her Traveling Family Band on Nostalgic '1980 Dodge Van'

Whether it's a tour bus or a pickup truck, country artists have been singing about ramblin' down the road for decades. A set of wheels represent freedom, opportunity and, often, fond memories and for Melissa Carper that set of wheels was a Dodge Van — specifically the big brown 1980 Dodge Van that would chariot her parents and siblings from gig to gig as they toured as the Carper Family Band.

Carper commemorates the vehicle in the tender "1980 Dodge Van," from her forthcoming album Ramblin' Soul (out Nov 18 via Thirty Tigers). The song and its accompanying video serve as a scrapbook of memories of family road trips to D.C., Six Flags and Worlds of Fun and all the joy shared inside the van that would eventually become Carper's "home on wheels."

"'1980 Dodge Van' is about as autobiographical as a song gets," Carper tells Wide Open Country. "I have decided to continue to write songs about the vehicles I have owned, how much history they can have (especially if it was your family's vehicle), and how these days a vehicle can be one of the most stable things you have in your life if you move around a lot like I do. The Dodge Van was handed down to me when I was probably 16 or 17 years old. My parents didn't know what they had done and that I would proceed to travel all over and use this van as my home. When I wrote 'My Old Chevy Van,' on my album Daddy's Country Gold, I was still at a stage where it was hard to talk about my parents and hard to put pictures up of them. But now, it feels good to talk about them and remember them. I cherish my upbringing, our family band,  and the way my parents encouraged us all to play music from a young age (and just knew that we would be famous someday, ha!).  But seriously, they really believed in us. I was lucky to have a very loving and supportive family.  It's pretty cool how these van songs seem to bring the family closer together now. I have nieces and nephews that listen to my music and think 'Chevy Van' is a cool song. I gave them all Chevy Van shirts for Christmas. They know that's the van their grandparents drove. The 1980 Dodge Van just seemed like it needed to be preserved in a song as well."

Watch the video  for "1980 Dodge Van" below.

Ramblin' Soul, the follow-up to Carper's 2021 album Daddy's Country Gold, is available for pre-order.


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