Johnny Cash is the only individual member of The Highwaymen who has been singing to me since I started collecting records. In fact, well before I bought first vinyl LP, I was listening to Cash. He was one of Roger’s (my father’s) favourites.
Nor do the Highwaymen – but somehow their first album is in my shelves and I just love the title song – Highwayman – written by Jimmy Webb.
Jimmy Webb of course is a prolific songwriter. He wrote Highwayman in around 1977 – waking from a dream (after some “professional drinking” with Harry Nilsson) in which he was a highwayman being chased by grenadiers. (Link: Webb’s story of the song.)
The Highwaymen took their name from the song. The four icons of country music had decided to do a project together while they were recording a TV special in Switzerland. Thy began recording in 1984. Marty Stuart played the song to Cash suggesting it would be perfect for this new country super-group – 4 verses, 4 souls, 4 singers. Then Glen Campbell (who’d recorded the song in 1978 but his record label refused to release it) played it to all four of the super-group – and they immediately had the group’s name, the title of their first album, and a song for their first single.
How are Highwayman & Stone linked?
Both songs track a journey of reincarnation – birth, life, death, rebirth.
Stone (Ronnie Lane)
I’ve been tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor.
I’ve known good times and disaster.
But now I’ve found a teacher, and the teacher has a master,
The master is perfection, so he’ll help us get there faster.
Highwayman (Jimmy Webb)
And when I reach the other side
I’ll find a place to rest my spirit if I can
Perhaps I may become a highwayman again
Or I may simply be a single drop of rain
But I will remain
And I’ll be back again, and again and again and again and again…
Other Stuff You Might Enjoy.
North: The Moon’s A Harsh Mistress by Charlie Haden & Pat Metheny
East: The Highwayman by Loreena McKennitt (Alfred Noyes poem)
South: Hurt by Johnny Cash
West: Stone is that way.