“Hillbilly highway” was the term used for the Appalachian diaspora to industrial cities in the Midwest and elsewhere and for the highways that took them there. Hillbilly Highway is the story of a grandfather leaving the coal mines for work in Detroit. The father heads back down that hillbilly highway to Houston for work. The son and narrator rambles the hillbilly highways as a musician.
Hillbilly Highway is a song near and dear to my soul. I’ve driven a loaded-down u-haul up that hillbilly highway to Chicago, back to Appalachia, down to Houston, and over to Florida. By the time it was time to head back to the Midwest I let someone else do the hauling for me. The song itself is a seamless blend of lyric and melody. Everything about it yells the road and a loaded-down truck. Earle keens “hilllbiiiilly hiiiiighwaaaay” with the whine of the open road.
It’s the perfect song with which to kick off a blog very much devoted to that experience and those people. Even if it ain’t quite Texas country.
Hillbilly Highway is off Steve Earle’s debut album Guitar Town.
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