Song of the Day #2,781: ‘Ghosts of Highway 20’ – Lucinda Williams

lucinda_ghosts_highway_20Disc Two of The Ghosts of Highway 20 kicks off with the title track. Fittingly, this song serves as the thematic underpinning of the whole album.

Highway 20 is a stretch of road that touches on all of these sad southern stories, all of this grace and pain, and Williams can look back and vividly recollect every mile. Williams counts Flannery O’Connor as an influence, and that southern gothic quality is all over this album.

It’s interesting that this song opens the second disc rather than the first. It is a more traditional song than anything on the first disc, in that it has a well-defined and memorable chorus. It’s as if she crept up on this song through the quiet, somber first seven tracks and the let loose.

This is my favorite track so far, probably because it’s the most accessible. I expect the first disc to sink in more with repeated listens, but this song hit me right out of the gate. It reminds me of something by Bruce Springsteen.

[Chorus:]
I know this road like the back of my hand
Same with the stations on the FM band
Farms and truck stops, firework stands
I know this road like the back of my hand

Southern secrets still buried deep
Brooding and restless ‘neath the cracked concrete
If you were from here you would defend me to the death
Along with the ghosts of highway twenty

I went through hell when I was younger
Deep in the well you’ll see the hunger
To find the strength I’ve got within me
To wrestle with the ghosts of highway twenty

Been sixty years, I don’t want for nothing
But my tears they keep on coming
And my fears continue to haunt me
Along with the ghosts of highway twenty

[Chorus]

Who I am now is who I was then
I knew some how I’d come back again
No doubt about it, I’m next of kin
To all the ghosts along highway twenty

Run down motels and faded billboards
Used cars for sale and rusty junkyards
This two lane blacktop will never let me
Let go of the ghosts along highway twenty

And I have seen the signs that say
We’re closing in on the final days
But I got nothing to repent
My saving grace is with the ghosts of highway twenty

[Chorus]

Every question, every breath
Every exit leaves a little death
In its wake a memory
That will wander with the ghosts of highway twenty

[Chorus]

And I have seen the signs that say
We’re closing in on the final days
But I’ve got nothing to repent
My saving grace is with the ghosts of highway twenty

My saving grace is with the ghosts on highway twenty
My saving grace is with the ghosts on highway twenty

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One thought on “Song of the Day #2,781: ‘Ghosts of Highway 20’ – Lucinda Williams

  1. Dana says:

    I suppose it’s all relative, but I don’t find this song all that accessible or the chorus all that memorable. Have fun, though, with that repeat listening of disc one.😄

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