Friday Five: Highways

Ken Morton, Jr. | June 29th, 2012

The date was this same one way back fifty-six years ago when the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 was signed, officially creating the United States Interstate Highway System. It was the largest public works project in the history of the United States and you’ve been paying a tax on your gasoline ever since. Life on the road has never been the same. Song lyrics have never been the same, either. The highway has been the topic of choice for hundreds of thousands of tunes. Here are five personal favorites.

5. Chris LeDoux – “Life is a Highway”

His version will almost make you forget the Rascal Flatts version. Almost.

 

4. The Highwaymen – “Highwayman”

Did you know that Highwaymen had another “project” together after their last album was released back in in 1995? Between the years of 1997 and 1999, Nelson, Kristofferson, Cash, and Jennings also provided the voice and dramatization for the Louis L’Amour Collection, a four CD box set of seven Louis L’Amour books.

 

3. Hank Williams – “Lost Highway”

Highways didn’t have to be of the interstate variety to make a songwriter pick up a pen. This classic Williams recording of a Leon Payne song is iconic and inspired the name of a music label.

 

2. Dolly Parton – “Highway Headin’ South”

This is pulled from Dolly’s variety show in the late 1970s.

 

1. George Strait – “Brothers of the Highway”

This fun honky-tonk trucking-themed song was the third track off of Strait’s 2008 studio album Troubadour. After 24 prior studio albums, this project was Strait’s first to win Country Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards.

  1. Jeremy Dylan
    June 29, 2012 at 8:48 am

    What?! No ‘The Fugitive’? This is an outrage.

  2. bob
    June 29, 2012 at 8:59 am

    Mama Knows the Highway – Hal Ketchum
    Highway 20 Ride – Zac Brown Band

  3. Adam Sheets
    June 29, 2012 at 9:33 am

    “Wreck On the Highway” by Roy Acuff

  4. Jon
    June 29, 2012 at 9:41 am

    What’s “The Fugitive” – a misbegotten reference to “I’m A Lonesome Fugitive,” perhaps? And while Roy Acuff had the big hit with “Wreck On The Highway,” that’s a Dorsey Dixon song.

    Larry Cordle’s “Two Highways” is a great enough song that it engendered two very different but both fabulous versions by Ricky Skaggs and Alison Krauss & Union Station.

  5. Adam Sheets
    June 29, 2012 at 9:50 am

    Three of the five songs here are actually by Tom Cochrane, Jimmy Webb, and Leon Payne. Your point?

  6. Arlene
    June 29, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Gulf Coast Highway- Willie Nelson & Emmylou Harris
    I Dream A Highway- Gillian Welch
    Amarillo Highway- Robert Earl Keen

  7. Arlene
    June 29, 2012 at 10:17 am

    Bob Dylan- Highway 61 Revisited

  8. Jonathan Pappalardo
    June 29, 2012 at 10:50 am

    “The River and the Highway” – Pam Tillis

    “Little House On The Highway” – Kellie Pickler

    “Dixie Highway” – Alan Jackson and Zac Brown

    “Highway 17″ – Rodney Crowell

    “Highway Robbery” – Tanya Tucker

    “Give Me The Highway” – Vince Gill

    “Little Past Little Rock” – Lee Ann Womack

    “Cry On The Shoulder Of The Road” – Martina McBride

  9. Jack Williams
    June 29, 2012 at 11:18 am

    A couple of Southern rock entries:

    “Take the Highway” – Marshall Tucker Band
    “Highway Song” – Blackfoot.

  10. Mark
    June 29, 2012 at 11:21 am

    What about Ricky Skaggs Highway forty blues? One of my favourite country Songs of all time with one of the best instrumental breaks in any song ever

  11. Michael A.
    June 29, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Rodney Crowell’s “Many a Long and Lonesome Highway”, Tanya Tucker’s “Highway Robbery” and Steve Wariner’s
    “Life’s Highway”.

    Wariner’s “Drivin’ and Cryin’” and Patty Loveless’ “Nothin’ But the Wheel” fit the theme as well.

    Happy Friday!

  12. Richard
    June 29, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Nice list. Some other good ones:
    “The Lord’s Highway” – Chris Knight
    “Highway Junkie” – Chris Knight
    “72 (This Highway’s Mean)” – Drive-By Truckers

  13. Michael A.
    June 29, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Ah, and another that comes to mind… Ronnie Milsap’s “Prisoner of the Highway”.

  14. nm
    June 29, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    “Hillbilly Highway” — Steve Earle http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dT-yIYR7vV8

  15. Rick
    June 29, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    “Long, Lonesome Highway” – Michael Parks: Long live “Then Came Bronson!” (lol)

  16. Rick
    June 29, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    I think this thread needs an Aussie country song too!

    “New England Highway” – Adam Brand

  17. luckyoldsun
    June 29, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Technically, Cash and Willie and Kris and Waylon didn’t become “The Highwaymen” until their third album. The name was already taken by a Sixties folk group famous for “Michael Row Your Boat Ashore.” But the Cash/Willie group started touring together under that motif and became unofficially known as the Highwaymen, based on their signature song. They finally did adopt the name officially–and they got sued by the original Highwaymen as they must have expected.

    After both sides wasted enough time and money on lawyers and motions, Waylon came up with the brilliant idea of offering to have the original Highwayme-who had not been active for years–open for his group on tour. Amazingly, it worked out. They settled and apparently the two groups did some shows together.

  18. Paul W Dennis
    June 29, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    “Life’s Highway” – Steve Wariner
    “West Texas Highway” – George Hamilton IV

  19. Jack Williams
    July 2, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    Oh, I forget an old favorite:

    Western Highway (written by Jerry O’Beirne, recorded by Maura O’Connell).

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