Songs About Grief: I Drive Your Truck by Lee Brice

This is going to sound like a weird statement, but I get super excited when I stumble upon expressions of grief in popular culture.

I am not talking about those instances when something major has happened and the entire nation grieves the same loss.  That’s different.  What I’m talking about are subtle expressions of personal loss. Sometimes so subtle that if you haven’t been through grief yourself, you might not even notice them.

You:  Really?  That makes you super excited?

Me:  I can explain.

There are a few reasons why I feel this way – three to be exact.

  1. Naturally, I like being able to relate to a song or a poem or a photograph.
  2. I like hearing how other people grieve, it makes me feel less weird.
  3. I’m happy that in a culture so quiet on issues of grief there are artists willing to talk about this very personal topic.

I particularly enjoy songs about grief because, unlike poetry or art, music appeals to everyone.  That’s why today when I randomly stumbled upon a song about a guy who drives around his dead brother’s old pick up truck so that he can feel close to his memory, I thought to myself – I must blog about this song immediately!

I know that country music can be kind of a polarizing genre – most people either love it or hate it – but try to put that aside for the purposes of this discussion.  Also, for the purposes of this discussion lets assume he’s singing about his brother.  I thought it was about his father at first but in the last chorus he says “Yeah, sometimes, brother sometimes” so I’m going to assume that was a literal ‘brother’.

The singer describes the truck, giving us the impression that it’s pretty much just as his brother left it.  He hasn’t even changed the radio station.  His description gives you the feeling that the vehicle was an extension of his brother while he was alive; something that has been used by him so much and so well that it became a real part of him – like the Velveteen Rabbit of pickup trucks.

If you think about your loss, perhaps a significant place or object like this comes to mind.  Some place or thing that, at least at first, seemed impossible to alter because that would be like losing a piece of the person.

Preserving property serves a purpose because it makes us feel closer to our loved ones memory; yet many of us wonder what holding on to these things says about us.  Does it mean we are stuck?  Does it mean we are crazy?  Well, not usually. The symptoms of complicated grief don’t exactly include an unwillingness to rearrange furniture or give away objects.  Most often all this means is that we want to hold on to something that helps us remember a person who we loved

Anyway, the singer has his brother’s old truck and whenever he is struggling he hops in and tears around town.  He says he drives around town until the pain is gone.  You can just picture him simultaneously angry and sad, pausing through tears to switch gears.

I love how real and personal his depiction of grief and subsequent coping feels.  In fact his method of coping is so personal, it’s hard for others in his life to understand. His mother, he says, has asked him if he’s visited the grave but he implies he has not.  He doesn’t feel his brother’s presence there, not in the same way that he feels it in the truck.  The listeners are only privy to this information because he’s told us, others in his life probably have no idea that he’s privately grieving his loss in this way.

This song reminds us that we all have our own ways of coping.  His way of coping is driving around in a dirty, beat up old pick up truck; hardly the typical image of a ‘grieving’ individual.  But this is what works for him, and when it comes to grief there is no normal.

Update:

Thanks to NPR and a reader’s tip we now know the moving story behind this song.  Read about it here or better yet listen to the story about how a father’s grief heard over the radio by a Nashville song writer inspired this awesome song:

Listen.

Or at least read through the lyrics….

Lee Brice – I Drive Your Truck

Eighty-Nine Cents in the ash tray
Half empty bottle of Gatorade rolling in the floorboard
That dirty Braves cap on the dash
Dog tags hangin’ from the rear view
Old Skoal can, and cowboy boots and a Go Army Shirt
folded in the back
This thing burns gas like crazy, but that’s alright
People got their ways of coping
Oh, and I’ve got mine
 
I drive your truck
I roll every window down
And I burn up
Every back road in this town
I find a field, I tear it up
Til all the pain’s a cloud of dust
Yeah, sometimes I drive your truck
 
I leave that radio playing
That same ole country station where ya left it
Yeah, man I crank it up
And you’d probably punch my arm right now
If you saw this tear rollin’ down my on face
Hey, man I’m tryin’ to be tough
And momma asked me this morning
I I’d been by your grave
But that flag and stone ain’t where I feel you anyway
 
I drive your truck
I roll every window down
And I burn up
Every back road in this town
I find a field, I tear it up
Til all the pain’s a cloud of dust
Yeah, sometimes I drive your truck
 
I’ve cussed, I’ve prayed, I’ve said goodbye
Shook my fist and asked God why
These days when i’m missing you this much
 
I drive your truck
I roll every window down
And I burn up
Every back road in this town
I find a field, I tear it up
Til all the pain’s a cloud of dust
Yeah, sometimes, brother sometimes
 
I drive your truck
I drive your truck
I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind
 

 Looking for more about grief and music?  We have tons of posts on that topic – check out all of our grief and music posts.

March 28, 2017

7 responses on "Songs About Grief: I Drive Your Truck by Lee Brice"

  1. I lost the father of my boys recently. He committed suicide. He was an army veteran, 16 years as a medic. I listen to this song and think of him. Oh I how I miss him.

  2. I too lost my brother recently. It’ll be 16 days since I saw him breathing now. He died at the age of 16, in July of 2015 and this song is crazy because he had a truck, and lord almighty was he proud of it. He rammed that goofy truck through the fence twice, created a lot of ruts in the dirt road we live on all while it consistently broke down on him, leaving me and him to push it home. God I miss those days. They feel so long ago to me. I feel for you Raymond, this is hard. I’ve definitely been doing my cussing, asking why and wishing I would have spent more time with my baby brother. We do still have his truck and that I am extremely grateful for. That thing was his pride and joy; now, it’s all of ours.

    • Dan – I am so sorry about your brother. That was is so recent. I am weeping for you. I If you are on FB and when you are ready, there is a pretty good adult sibling loss support group there. I know there is not much for sibling loss support out there. I would encourage you to find some support if you don’t already have it. Whatsyourfrief is a great site, glad you found it. I tend do a lot more reading than posting. My brother has been gone just over 2 1/2 years now, He is younger than me too. He got his truck in high school. He had lot lots of fun with it and got into trouble on occasion too. He even rolled it once (a very slow motion rollover / oops) and it kept on going. It was a great truck. Hang in their Dan. Let yourself feel what you feel. In my heart I want to tell you things get better, and in a way it does but it is going to take a while, mostly the bitter truth is things just scar over, at least that’s been the case for me so far. You will get through this, as painful as it is. Hang onto that truck. Even if you need to park it somewhere for a time.

  3. This song is actually based on a true story of a father whose son was killed in Iraq. NPR did a story on the story, and spoke to the dad. I can’t imagine.

    • Hey Riva!

      Thank you so much for this tip! I’ve always wondered the true backstory. We’ve updated the post to include the NPR story now. And wow, what a moving story it is. I can’t imagine either.

      Thanks again!
      Eleanor

  4. Thank you for posting this. I randomly stumbled across your website and this song. It gutted me. It will be two years next month since my brothers passing. He was 40 and left a wife and two boys behind. He even used to have a truck but he gave it a way to a high school kid who needed a project a few years ago. At the moment I wish I had it, but him giving like that was important to him. Mom also asks about my visits to the cemetery. I know it’s not literally about the truck it’s the pain of missing him. . “ I’ve cussed, I’ve prayed, I’ve said goodbye, Shook my fist and asked God why, These days when i’m missing you this much” is pretty much how I feel. Good days and bad days. Songs that I relate strongly too like this are hard but I also know they eventually help. Sort of like cleaning a wound. It stings but each time it gets a little better. I also know there will always be a scare, but I need that too.

    • Raymond, I know what you mean. Sometimes songs seem like they were written so explicitly about our pain. Although I of course don’t want anyone else to feel pain, it kind of makes you feel less alone to know someone else knows what you feel so closely that they could write it in a song. I’m really sorry about your brother’s death. Like you said, it gets better…but I know some days it sure is hard.

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