The video for Jim Waneka’s latest single, ‘I’m Coming Home’ takes us to Wahoo, Nebraska, a remote place, an hour west into the Great Plains from Omaha. We see a truck driver, taking a break from his long-haul job, sitting at a table in a no-frills diner, making a call his wife. It seems that their daughter’s birthday is coming up, but as he’s got a load to deliver, it’s unsure as to whether or not he’s going to make it home on time to see her on her special day. The number-plates on his eighteen-wheeler show that he’s from California; he’s got a lot of distance to cover.
It’s a poignant thought: how does this trucker, the backbone of the USA, balance his responsibilities to his family with those of his profession? On the one hand, he’d love dearly to see his little girl, yet on the other, a whole nation is depending on him to get food and other supplies delivered on time.
Over at the next table, Jim Waneka understands what the trucker is going through. The balladeer approaches the blue-collar characters in his songs with the compassion and respect they deserve. He brings them to life with colour, attention to telling detail, and scrupulous emotional accuracy. Through three rousing verses Waneka tells the truck driver’s story in ‘I’m Coming Home’. We feel the loneliness of the road, the fears of obsolescence, the physical exhaustion, the pain of estrangement from loved ones, the sense of honour and duty, and the pride of a job well done.
While the story follows the truck driver, it’s also about the beauty of the American west, and this is conveyed perfectly in the accompanying music video to ‘I’m Coming Home’. We follow the eighteen-wheeler on the hypnotic Plains Interstates, through the great stony passes of the Utah mountains, and through the stark and beautiful deserts beyond. When he finally sees the sign for Redlands in California, he breaks into a massive smile. He’s made it.