The High Road

Tim O’Brien is an exceptional singer, song-writer, and multi-instrumentalist. He crosses from genre to genre with great ease and virtuosity.

I primarily favor instrumental music, in particular Baroque period European music, old-time pre-bluegrass fiddle music, Irish dance music, jazz, and blues.

Every now and then, though, I encounter a vocal song which moves me and stays with me. Tim O’Brien’s song “The High Road” is one of those songs. Listen, and let me know what you think of it:

Here are the lyrics:

Up on the high road lookin’ down
Thinkin’ how you let me down
And deep in my heart I hear the sound
Of the song that carried me away.

We would come here years ago
And the stars would shine and the wind would blow
You’d look in my eyes and I would know
That you would carry me away.

Late last week in the marketplace
I heard your voice and I saw your face
You were gone without a trace
It sure did carry me away.

I’ll play a tune and watch the stars
Hope the wind will carry it far
And if you hear me wherever you are
Just let it carry you away.

Play old fiddle and carry me away
To another life and another day
Well, here’s a little tune I always play
It sure does carry me away…




Filed under Music

4 responses to “The High Road

  1. Joan

    Very nice. Hard for me to distinguish between pre-bluegrass and bluegrass fiddle music. This song could be straight from Ireland. My father-in-law who actually was straight from Ireland, apparently didn’t see a lot of difference either, as he watched the bluegrass country music shows on the tube. In fact, I asked him why, and he said it sounded like music from “the old country”.
    Haunting tune…even without the lyrics, it’s a beautiful melody.

  2. Bluegrass fiddle differs from Celtic styles by an improvisational approach derived from swing-era jazz and blues. I’m glad you liked the song, Joan!

    There are a few acoustic musicians out there who have the remarkable ability to come up with new tunes which are so imbued with a particular musical tradition that they sound old, as if they come from the folk tradition. Tim O’Brien is one of these musicians, as is Jay Ungar, who composed “Ashokan’s Farewell” for the Ken Burns Civil War series. Guitarist Norman Blake has that ability too.

  3. Joan

    I love Ashokan’s Farewell! Who’d have thunk it was not an original Civil War song.

  4. The story I heard was that Jay Ungar had been hired to compose and play music for the the Ken Burns series. One day during the filming Ungar was sitting under a tree playing an early version of Ashokan’s Farewell. Ken Burns happened to walk by and was impressed by the tune; he said something like, “We’re going to use that tune!”

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