I think most people have a special song or lyrics that have meaning to them for one or multiple reasons. Talking with our friend Taylor Barker, he has lots, but the one he likes the most is out of the Garth Brooks song, How You Ever Gonna Know, that says, “Listen not to the critics, who put their own dreams on the shelf. If you want to get truth to admit it you gotta find out for yourself.” It’s so true – people can tell you things, but sometimes you just have to go after your own dreams and find out for yourself.
Taylor’s mom got him a guitar for his 15th birthday, and he was eager to learn how to play it, and he did. While he was learning, she may have regretted it just a little bit. He made a lot noise when he was learning the chords, and it was not all pretty sounds.
When he was 16, Taylor bought himself an electric Sears Silvertone guitar with an amp built into the case. He had to improvise a bit to have a microphone, so he used an extension cord, tied a knot in the end, and threw it over the ceiling fan in his bedroom, to simulate one of those old hanging mics. His grandfather told him that he should go to Nashville. When Taylor asked, “Really?” He told him, “Yes, the walk back would do you good.” He also said, “I used to wish I could sing, now I wish you could!” But honestly, it was all in good fun.
When he was 21, Taylor went to The Pub in downtown Kingsport, TN and asked Little Joe if he could play his guitar acoustically, instead of singing karaoke, and he let him. And that was how his music career got started. To this day, the little small town bars are still his favorite places to play. Music has never been what pays the bills – he uses his music to help raise money for charity and for benefits when someone has a big need. He doesn’t charge but plays to help others.
Joining the Tennessee National Guard when he was 22, Taylor served from 1992 to 2002. It was here that his trucking career began. He had always been fascinated with trucks, and when the opportunity presented itself for him to learn what would become his chosen profession, he jumped at the chance. He learned to drive the “fueler truck” in the National Guard and then went on to get his CDL in 1994. At the time, he was driving a fuel tanker for Brandon Oil, the same Brandon Oil that owns the Davy Crockett Truck Stop at exit 36 on I-81 in Tennessee.
His inspiration to drive a truck came from his best friend’s dad Bobby Skeens, aka Thunder. After he got his CDL, Taylor thought it would be cool to get to truck with his hero, and one day that dream became a reality. In a funny turn of events, his hero came to work for the same company as Taylor, and they got to go trucking together, in separate trucks, before Bobby retired. “Listen not to the critics, who put their own dreams on the shelf. If you want to get truth to admit it you gotta find out for yourself.”
In 1998 Taylor hit the interstate, hauling freight to all 48 states, and within two years he realized that his passion was pulling a tanker, so he has been doing that ever since. Today, he drives for Heniff Transportation out of Oak Brook, IL (but they have terminals all over the country). They specialize in hauling all sorts of liquid chemicals such as soap ingredients, wax, paint ingredients, and more.
In 2009 Taylor ran into Cherie, who he had a crush on way back in middle school. Both recently divorced at the time they started dating, they were married in 2012, and never looked back. Taylor says, “She is my rock and my everything.” They work well together, and she totally supports his music. Likewise, Taylor supports her store, Cherie’s Boutique in Kingsport, TN, which has antiques and unique one-of-a-kind items. She also refinishes antique furniture, as well.
In 2016 Taylor met Bill Weaver, another singer/truck driver. It was in 2017 that Bill invited Taylor to play guitar with him at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, TX. During Bill’s set, he let Taylor sing a couple songs, and that is where his trucking music began. Bill introduced Taylor to Paul Marhoefer (aka Long Haul Paul) and Tony Justice, and they all welcomed him into the trucking music scene. Taylor will be forever grateful for both their friendship and all the opportunities they have given him.
In 2019 Taylor won Overdrive’s Trucker Talent Search, and since then has played at many truck shows, like the Mid-America Trucking Show, and Tony Justice’s Large Cars and Guitars, along with many charity events benefiting truckers. Credit goes to Brad Puckett for giving Taylor the opportunity to sing professionally and believing in his music. Taylor asked Brad to pay him $1.00, and when Brad asked why, he said he wouldn’t be able to frame the first dollar he ever made singing if there was more than one.
Taylor’s dream was never to be famous and have a big number one hit, but instead to use his music to help as many people as possible, and just enjoy playing his guitar. He supports Truckers Final Mile, who we wrote about in the November 2020 Trucker Talk, as well as many other worthy charities and causes related to trucking.
Keith Whitley, Randy Travis, and Garth Brooks are his favorite singers. The lyrics from the Garth Brooks song Against the Grain pretty much sum up how Taylor looks at life: “Well, I have been accused, of makin’ my own rules, there must be rebel blood, just a-runnin’ through my veins. But I ain’t no hypocrite, what you see is what you get, and that’s the only way I know to play the game.”
When he meets people who may be scared to speak up or take a chance, he shares lyrics from that Garth Brooks song, Against the Grain, that says, “Old Noah took much ridicule for building his great ark, but after forty days and forty nights, he was lookin’ pretty smart.” It goes on to say, “Well, there’s more folks than a few, that share my point of view, but they’re worried if they’re gonna sink or swim. They’d like to buck the system, but the deck is stacked against ‘em, and they’re a little scared to go out on a limb.” The song ends on the lyric, “Nothin’ ventured nothin’ gained, sometimes you’ve got to go against the grain.” And Taylor completely agrees with those words.
Thank you for all you do, Taylor. We appreciate your efforts to help people. Keep singing and making our trucking world a better place! Trucking may be Taylor’s livelihood, but music will always be his passion.