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<  Lyrics / Chords  ~  Highway Halo

frogbotfan
Posted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 10:28 am Reply with quote
Raisin' a Ruckus Joined: 16 Jun 2011 Posts: 59 Location: North Carolina
I love this song, but I don't understand it.
Maybe it's best to approach it as another
"road song". There are so many of these
in American music. I don't think you can
ask what it means and get a satisfactory
answer: it just is what it does, like any
road trip.

But I still would like to know what a "highway
halo" actually is. Maybe there really is some-
thing called a highway halo that I've just never
heard of. The reference to Lily
Kimball I find to be even more esoteric than
the old Paiute Vovaka. Even as a blues song
it's obscure. Almost no covers. I think that,
musically, the fairly flat sound of "kim-bull"
provides a foil for the intense and stretched-
out word (later) "highway".

Above all, I think it's the melody that carries
the song. The recurring 'High-ii--ii--i-i-way"
is just too catchy.

But I can't stop asking myself "what does it
all mean" even though I know that isn't the
proper question. Sad

Anyone else thought about this song?

fbf
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lbrod
Posted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 6:09 pm Reply with quote
*Bloodshot Hot Rod* Joined: 02 Jul 2008 Posts: 1358 Location: Beneath Pacheco Pass
I have seen oncoming headlights in the rain create something of a halo effect,
but I have never been one to dwell on precise lyrical interpretations.
I just enjoy the song.
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kg
Posted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 6:17 pm Reply with quote
*Data Miner* Joined: 30 Jun 2007 Posts: 3427
Spot on, lbrod! (At least in my opinion.)

frog, this is another case--I would argue--of Ketch's use of religious imagery. The halo refers not only to the optical effect, but the "appointment" of a saint with a halo. One can see it also in the "kingship" of the holy. Note the purple robe and, later, crown. It's really an optimistic song and is one of my favorites.

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Even though you can't expect to defeat the absurdity of the world, you must make that attempt. That's morality, that's religion. That's art. That's life. --Phil Ochs
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lbrod
Posted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 6:19 pm Reply with quote
*Bloodshot Hot Rod* Joined: 02 Jul 2008 Posts: 1358 Location: Beneath Pacheco Pass
Now a halo of mustard around a corn dog, well that is special.
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GumboStu
Posted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 6:21 pm Reply with quote
*Irish Stew* Joined: 03 Oct 2007 Posts: 3666 Location: Joe's Cornfield
yes i don't want to delve too deeply into this one as i think it's something of a collage.

What it does remind of though, is keroauc, and the inherent holiness of the hobo lifestyle.

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GumboStu
Posted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 6:22 pm Reply with quote
*Irish Stew* Joined: 03 Oct 2007 Posts: 3666 Location: Joe's Cornfield
lbrod wrote:
Now a halo of mustard around a corn dog, well that is special.


staring up the road and i pray to god i see corn-dog's Laughing

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kg
Posted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 6:32 pm Reply with quote
*Data Miner* Joined: 30 Jun 2007 Posts: 3427
Hahahahaa!

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Even though you can't expect to defeat the absurdity of the world, you must make that attempt. That's morality, that's religion. That's art. That's life. --Phil Ochs
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trtle8819
Posted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 7:03 pm Reply with quote
Old Crow Joined: 01 Apr 2007 Posts: 332 Location: Chattanooga, Tennessee
I guess I've always thought of it as a sort of "King of the Road" kind of song. I think Ketch mentioned something about the general meaning of it at a show once, though I don't really remember what he said...
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The whistle knows my name
Posted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 7:08 pm Reply with quote
Thousandaire Joined: 21 Apr 2008 Posts: 1007
teledeluxe wrote:
I found the CD at a used CD store in Atlanta (advanced copy) about two weeks ago. The CD does include all lyrics. Critter does vocals on a few songs and the new Banjo player wrote and sang one song.


Reading through this thread and I was wondering, is the start of the whole "used cd store in Atlanta" thing?

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The whistle knows my name
Posted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 7:13 pm Reply with quote
Thousandaire Joined: 21 Apr 2008 Posts: 1007
I agree with what everyone's saying about the song. I thought the halo might be a representation of divine protection for the poor traveler, or "traveling mercies" in the Christian vernacular. Maybe? I don't know if halos are really used that way.

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Chigger
Posted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 7:41 pm Reply with quote
*Lucky No. 7* Joined: 30 Jul 2008 Posts: 1358 Location: McMinnville, Tennessee
The whistle knows my name wrote:
teledeluxe wrote:
I found the CD at a used CD store in Atlanta (advanced copy) about two weeks ago. The CD does include all lyrics. Critter does vocals on a few songs and the new Banjo player wrote and sang one song.


Reading through this thread and I was wondering, is the start of the whole "used cd store in Atlanta" thing?


OMG. You have just located a piece of the puzzle!

Good ol' Teledeluxe... Laughing

Yes, this and about 5 more posts that mentioned it (in a very short time period) are what started the greatest running gag in forum history... Good eye Whistle!

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I don't know what that is, but I want my picture took with it.
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indeedinoditsistern
Posted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 8:03 pm Reply with quote
*Garfunkled* Joined: 22 Jan 2008 Posts: 1523 Location: Hokes Bluff AL.
i thank kg eatin a corn dawg might have replaced the used cd store in atlanta. another reason for kg to eat that dawg. IN A USED CD STORE IN ATLANTA!!
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GumboStu
Posted: Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:17 am Reply with quote
*Irish Stew* Joined: 03 Oct 2007 Posts: 3666 Location: Joe's Cornfield
I wonder if they have their preview copies of the new album yet?

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frogbotfan
Posted: Wed Aug 10, 2011 3:19 pm Reply with quote
Raisin' a Ruckus Joined: 16 Jun 2011 Posts: 59 Location: North Carolina
Thoughts while reading through the text of the song.
Towards and interpretation or reading of the text.

HIGHWAY HALO

Driving rain, narrow shoulder
(difficult conditions [we're in])
Breakdown lane, marching forward
Going where I do not know
(ambiguity about purpose of human life is a frequent OCMS theme)
One eye on the open road
(where is the other eye? on the shoulder?)
Stepping out in the great unknown
(ah, an adventure begins?)
With a Highway Halo


Shaky face, Lily Kimball
(I'm going with faith, "shaky face" makes no sense. Maybe "Lily
Kimball suggests something to others, but it doesn't to me. In the song by that name posted on this board, there was nothing distinctive about Lily. Rather,
it was her effect on the singer.)
Patron saint, traveling minstrel
(nice contrast)
Let her dusty wings unfold
(dusty wings is an unexpected and novel phrase)
Forgive her bad luck soul
(as is also "bad luck soul"; more of the theme "let's be kind to
each other as in "Lift Him Up")
Put her in a purple robe
(purple, the color of royalty--or penitence?
And a Highway Halo

Passing trains, sound like silver
(train imagery?--but we were on the open road?!)
Broken chains, shine like gold
(Emancipators?)
Fortune's just a painted stone
(strangely static metaphor for Fortune, usually more dynamic)
Goin' where them hobos roam
(identification with the free life of the hobo)
Crowned king of a jungle throne
(who or what is a crowned king?!)
With a Highway Halo

Goin' where it suits my soul
("going where the climate suits my clothes"--Woody Guthrie?)
Can't you hear my big wheels roll
(the singer is a powerful person, truck reference)
You can light up the darkest road
(A positive note! Things are not all gloom and doom….)
With a beam of eternal glow
(….you can have an impact on things…
With a Highway
(So, maybe a highway halo is something we create and apply,
With a Highway
(affirmatively to improve the Human Situation.)
With a Highway Halo
(I'm liking this better and better.)


My. $.02.
fbf
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trtle8819
Posted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:06 am Reply with quote
Old Crow Joined: 01 Apr 2007 Posts: 332 Location: Chattanooga, Tennessee
Here's mine:

HIGHWAY HALO

Driving rain, narrow shoulder
Breakdown lane, marching forward
(Getting out on a road trip, no matter what the conditions are)
Going where I do not know
(the destination is not important)
One eye on the open road
(where is the other eye? looking at maps, switching CDs, other roadtrip things)
Stepping out in the great unknown
(ah, an adventure begins?) (yep)
With a Highway Halo
(On the road, everyone's royalty, no one knows where you came from, where you are going, and fellow travelers are generally helpful, and nice. Angels of the road...)


Shaky face, Lily Kimball
Patron saint, traveling minstrel
(I assume this whole turns to road trip conversation, perhaps the writer's older sister made a mix tape with an obscure song on it called "Lily Kimball" or maybe the conversation turns to talking about past relationships, (which fits with the Lily Kimball song lyrics)...Saint Christopher, the patron saint of travelers, did have "shaky faith" - he started out searching for the devil then decided to follow Christ only after he couldn't find the devil...)
Let her dusty wings unfold
(dusty wings is an unexpected and novel phrase)
(but if she's not been on a road trip in a while, her wings could be dusty...)
Forgive her bad luck soul
(more of the theme "let's be kind to
each other as in "Lift Him Up" -mhm)
Put her in a purple robe
(purple, the color of royalty - yes!)
And a Highway Halo
(To sum it up: This Lily Kimball chic needs a road trip. Once she begins the road trip, she will become like the rest of all the travelers, and have her own Highway Halo - nobody will know that she broke someone's heart, no one will know she has a "bad luck soul" she can just dress like royalty and she will be royal)

Passing trains, sound like silver
(taking in all the sounds of travel)
Broken chains, shine like gold
(the independence of being on a road trip shine's like gold)
Fortune's just a painted stone
(From Shakespeare's Henry the Fifth: Fortune is
painted blind, with a muffler afore her eyes, to
signify to you that Fortune is blind; and she is
painted also with a wheel, to signify to you, which
is the moral of it, that she is turning, and
inconstant, and mutability, and variation: and her
foot, look you, is fixed upon a spherical stone,
which rolls, and rolls, and rolls: in good truth,
the poet makes a most excellent description of it:
Fortune is an excellent moral.)
Goin' where them hobos roam
(identification with the free life of the hobo -yep)
Crowned king of a jungle throne
(it's a jungle out there...and once you've been on the road for a while, you probably get to be king...you might even crown yourself "king of the road")
With a Highway Halo

Goin' where it suits my soul
(the chains are broken, and I'm the king)
Can't you hear my big wheels roll
(I have huge wheels because I'm the king! Can't you hear them rolling?)
You can light up the darkest road
With a beam of eternal glow
With a Highway
With a Highway
With a Highway Halo
(a beam of eternal glow?...like angels have? a halo?...like angels have? what I'm saying is that fellow travelers are the angels, help someone on the road and we might be lighting up their darkest road...because we all have highways halos...)
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frogbotfan
Posted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 6:01 pm Reply with quote
Raisin' a Ruckus Joined: 16 Jun 2011 Posts: 59 Location: North Carolina
trtle8819 wrote:

(To sum it up: This Lily Kimball chic needs a road trip. Once she begins the road trip, she will become like the rest of all the travelers, and have her own Highway Halo - nobody will know that she broke someone's heart, no one will know she has a "bad luck soul" she can just dress like royalty and she will be royal)


I think you've come closer to understanding this verse than I did. If it really is all about Lily Kimball, then I revert to accepting "Shaky face" (rather than "faith").

I was beginning to fear that my reading had put an end to discussion. Happens to me a lot. Your reading shows how differently people can see things. Probably a big factor in the success of OCMS: the music can mean different things to different people.

Thanks for your thoughts on the song.

fbf
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trtle8819
Posted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 9:01 pm Reply with quote
Old Crow Joined: 01 Apr 2007 Posts: 332 Location: Chattanooga, Tennessee
frogbotfan wrote:

Thanks for your thoughts on the song.

fbf


No prob, it was fun! Felt like I was back in English class...
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frogbotfan
Posted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 8:18 am Reply with quote
Raisin' a Ruckus Joined: 16 Jun 2011 Posts: 59 Location: North Carolina
pittsyltucky wrote:
it's shaky face alright... unless it's a typo in the liner notes?


Made me think about the reliability of liner notes in general. Lots of questions.

1) Is the person who wrote the liner notes actually the author of the song? If not, then surely errors can creep in. Does someone spell check the lyrics? If spot two misspellings in the lyrics to "Highway Halo", so typos are not out of the question.

2) Since on some songs the lead singer could be a different person from one performance to the next, slight variations may creep in. As in, shaky face, shaky faith. Maybe singer A says "face," singer B says "faith"? (If it were face, you'd hear the hissing of the "c", but I can't hear it.) If the singer varies, what is then the standard, authoritative, "correct" version ?

And what is a highway halo? I think it is a positive attribute that can be awarded to a person (for various reasons) or that can be achieved by living a certain kind of life, the life of the free roamer, the adventurer, the person who lives on the open road. Kind of like an aura. Not just and ordinary halo that a saint might get for a life well lived, but a HIGHWAY halo for living the live of the open road, the hobo jungle, the Interstate.

And on Lily Kimball, can someone show me why we should believe that the Lily Kimball in "Highway Halo" relates in some way to the blues song mentioned earlier on this forum? Perhaps the coincidence of names is just too great, but I really don't see any connection. Am I missing something?

fbf
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kg
Posted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 9:21 am Reply with quote
*Data Miner* Joined: 30 Jun 2007 Posts: 3427
frog, from one of Ketch's interviews:

"That crystal meth has changed a lot of things in those mountains. In terms of what people need to get out of their three-room trailers, government isn't trickling down; big business isn't trickling down, and the meth isn't helping. A lot of the people on this record are now in prison. I hope this record will be heard by prisoners all around the country. I think it is good music for people who are incarcerated or who are bound up one way or the other-people like Lily Kimball and all the prostitutes of Memphis.

"This gal she needs some wings, and a good song can make that happen."

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Even though you can't expect to defeat the absurdity of the world, you must make that attempt. That's morality, that's religion. That's art. That's life. --Phil Ochs
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GumboStu
Posted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 11:50 am Reply with quote
*Irish Stew* Joined: 03 Oct 2007 Posts: 3666 Location: Joe's Cornfield
Quote:
And on Lily Kimball, can someone show me why we should believe that the Lily Kimball in "Highway Halo" relates in some way to the blues song mentioned earlier on this forum? Perhaps the coincidence of names is just too great, but I really don't see any connection. Am I missing something?


nope. it's pure unadulterated speculation.

nice googling again there, kg Wink

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frogbotfan
Posted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 12:24 pm Reply with quote
Raisin' a Ruckus Joined: 16 Jun 2011 Posts: 59 Location: North Carolina
frogbotfan wrote:

And what is a highway halo? I think it is a positive attribute that can be awarded to a person (for various reasons) or that can be achieved by living a certain kind of life, the life of the free roamer, the adventurer, the person who lives on the open road. Kind of like an aura. Not just and ordinary halo that a saint might get for a life well lived, but a HIGHWAY halo for living the live of the open road, the hobo jungle, the Interstate.
fbf


Now that I know, or think that I have figured out, what "highway halo" really means, I think I liked it better NOT knowing. The mystery, the puzzle is gone now.

fbf
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kg
Posted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 1:44 pm Reply with quote
*Data Miner* Joined: 30 Jun 2007 Posts: 3427
frog, don't worry. I think it's much like the trinity in Christian thought; it is and remains a mystery.

And for what it's worth, I am certain that Ketch has a Lily Kimball bobblehead doll on his dash. (Wink.)

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Even though you can't expect to defeat the absurdity of the world, you must make that attempt. That's morality, that's religion. That's art. That's life. --Phil Ochs
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