Song of the Day #4,588: ‘Halfway Home’ – Billy Pilgrim

This song on frequent commenter Dana’s list of favorites jumped out at me as a real blast from the past. I haven’t listened to Billy Pilgrim’s debut album in years, and that’s a shame because it’s wonderful.

That 1994 self-titled debut is one of the best first albums ever by a band that went absolutely nowhere. Billy Pilgrim was dropped by their label three years and one studio album later, with Kristian Bush going on to find success with Sugarland and Andrew Hyra joining the lesser-known Smokin’ Novas.

‘Halfway Home’ is a standout track on this album, a simple acoustic number about a man measuring his life one leg of his commute at a time. I used to assume the song was about a truck driver, but the narrator references a “car” at the end, so I guess not. If it were written 20 years later, I’d say he works for Uber.

I love this pick for a ‘favorite songs’ list because it’s so unexpected. Apart from a handful of people who followed this band during their early days in Georgia, I bet you won’t find a soul placing this obscure but lovely song on such a list.

On clear days it’s fast black dead west
Sun on my cheek flat on my chest
I’m warm driving with all the citizens

Halfway to work, halfway home

And the radio says there’s been a terrible accident
Somewhere up by the waterways
I do more driving before 8 o’clock
Than most people do all day

But the work is honest and the customers human
Don’t guess I could ask for more
The kids are in college and my wife is buying
Every single dress in the store

And me
Halfway to work, halfway home

My doctor says my blood is pressuring me
Mama says this love is measuring me
Up each tick turned off
The road ices long before the bridge
Son just sit a while, and let the whiskey dull the edge

But the work is honest and the customers human
Don’t guess I could ask for more
The kids are in college and my wife is buying
Every single dress in the store

And me, halfway to work, halfway home
And me, halfway to work, halfway home
And me, I just sit in this bar
And me, I just drive in my car
And me, I just stay in my head
And me, I just sleep in this bed

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,588: ‘Halfway Home’ – Billy Pilgrim

  1. Amy says:

    Yes to everything you said above. There were songs from a few albums like this one that floated around the periphery of my list but never landed there. When I saw “Halfway Home” on Dana’s list, it made me smile. We heard this album while on a work trip to CA, where a record store called “Hear Music” let you open and play anything in the store. The moment we skipped around and found each song as appealing as the next, we bought the album, which has been a staple on the kids’ DJ sets for years.

    As for his occupation, I always thought of him as some sort of salesman. In later years, he might have been Jim from The Office if he had to always drive to sell paper to his clients. Now I can see the lure of taxi driver (or, today, Uber driver) as another possibility.

  2. Dana Gallup says:

    Thank you for highlighting this lovely song from a great album. In a slightly different mood, I could have easily picked the jubilant “Hula-hoop.”

    As for the driver’s occupation, I always assumed he was a salesman, possibly a manager, at some kind of store like a Walmart, with a long commute. Back when I used to drive from Aventura to Miami every day, I could identify with the sentiment in the title. I can see, however, how he could be a truck driver, bus driver or a taxi driver.

  3. Maddie says:

    I love this song and, of course, “Hula-hoop.” I’ve been meaning to give this whole album a fair shake. I’ll try and add it into my personal rotation more.

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