Blackfoot “Highway Song” (1979)

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Obviously, there was ‘Freebird’ and there was ‘Green Grass and High Tides.’ That pair seems undeniable and indisputable as numbers 1 & 2. But beyond those two epic southern rock guitar jams by Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Outlaws respectively, what would come next? I’d allow either of ‘Whipping Post’ or ‘In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed’ by the Allman Brothers as a 3rd place finisher, and certainly there are plenty other worthy nominees to mention beyond those. But I’m going off the board to complete the unofficial Mount Rushmore of marathon southern rock guitar fests to a tune I’ve always loved by a largely forgotten band, Blackfoot.

The band was named as a representation of the American Indian heritage of 3 of its 4 original members, including bandleader Rickey Medlocke. And though there remains a Blackfoot band active and touring to this day, their peak lineup and notoriety was way back at the tail-end of the ‘70’s with the release of the album Blackfoot Strikes in January of 1979, a record which contained the songs ‘Train Train,’ their first success and probably best known song, as well as the album finale, and my pick, ‘Highway Song.’

Like ‘Freebird,’ the first half of ‘Highway Song’ is a beautiful slow vocal build before the eventual arrival of crazily wailing guitars, and like ‘Green Grass’ the underlying chord progressions are utterly masterful in supporting the frenetic guitar solos as they churn forward. But who am I kidding, it’s those aforementioned massive guitar jamming extravaganzas that we’re there for: the last 3 minutes of ‘Highway Song’ here, much like the last 4 of ‘Green Grass’ and the last 4½ of ‘Freebird’ (on the studio version) and/or the last 7½ (from the likely more famous One More From The Road live version).

So break out the bandannas and the Bic lighters, and brace for some reflexive, hard-core air-guitaring: Blackfoot is set to strike again.


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