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Big Joe And Phantom 309

This song is by Tom Waits and appears on the album Nighthawks At The Diner (1975) and on the compilation album Dime Store Novels, Vol. 1 (2001).

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See I just happened to be back on the east coast a few years back
I was tryin' to make me a buck just like everybody else
I'll be damned if, if times get hard and Christ, I got down on my luck
And I got tired of just roamin' and bummin' around
So I started thumbin' my way back to my old hometown

And you know I made quite a few miles in the first couple of days
You know, I figured I'd be home in a week if my luck held out this way
You know it was the third night, I got stranded
It was out at a cold lonely crossroads
And as the rain came pouring down, man, I was hungry
I was hungry, tired, freezin', caught myself a chill

But it was just about that time
Just about that the lights of an old semi topped the hill
You should of seen me smile when I heard them air brakes come on
And I climbed up in that cab where I knew it'd be warm

At the wheel
Well at the wheel sat a big man
I'd have to say he must of weighed 210
As he stuck out a big hand and said with a grin
"Big Joe's the name.
And this here rig's called Phantom 309"

Well, I asked him why he called his rig such a name
But he just turned to me and said "Why son
Don't you know this here rig'll be puttin' 'em all to shame
There ain't a driver, no there ain't a driver on this
Or any other line for that matter
That's seen nothin' but the taillights of Big Joe and Phantom 309"

So we rode and talked the better part of the night
And I told my stories and Joe told his
And I smoked up all his Viceroys as we rolled along

He pushed her ahead with 10 forward gears
Man that dashboard was lit like the old Madam La Rue pinball
A serious semi-truck
Until almost mysteriously
Well it was the lights of a truck stop that rolled into sight
Joe turned to me and said "I'm sorry son
But I'm afraid this is just as far as you go, you see
You see I kinda gotta be makin' a turn just up the road a piece,"
But I'll be damned if he didn't throw me a dime as he threw her in low
And said "Go on in there son, and
Get yourself a hot cup of coffee on Big Joe"

And I mean to tell ya, when Joe and his rig pulled off into the night
Man in nothing flat they was clean outta sight
So I walked into the old stop
And ordered me up a cup of mud
Sayin', "Big Joe's settin' this dude up"
But it got so deathly quiet in that place
Yeah, it got so deathly quiet in that place
You could of heard a pin drop

And as the waiter's face turned kinda pale
I said "What's the matter did I say somethin' wrong?"
I kinda said with a half way grin
He said, "No son, you see It'll happen every now and then.
'Cause every driver in here knows Big Joe,
But let me tell you what happened just 10 years ago out there
Yeah, it was 10 years ago out there at that cold lonely crossroads.

And there was a whole busload of kids
And they were just comin' from school
And they were right in the middle when Joe topped the hill
And could have been slaughtered except Joe turned his wheels
And jacknifed, yeah jacknifed
And went into a skid, and folks around here
Say he gave his life to save that bunch of kids

And out there at that cold lonely crossroads
Well they say it was the end of the line for Big Joe and Phantom 309
But it's funny you know, 'cause every now and then
Yeah, every now and then, when the moon's holdin' water
They say old Joe will stop and give you a ride
And seems, just like you, some hitchhiker will be comin' by

"So here son," he said to me
"You get yourself another cup of coffee, it's on the house.
I want you to hang on to that dime
Yeah you hang on to that dime as a kind of souvenir
A souvenir of Big Joe and Phantom 309"

Written by:

Tommy Faile Wikipedia16