Saturday, August 4, 1973

Joe Walsh “Rocky Mountain Way” charted

Rocky Mountain Way

Joe Walsh

Writer(s): Joe Walsh, Joe Vitale, Rocke Grace, Kenny Passarelli (see lyrics here)

First Charted: August 4, 1973

Peak: 23 US, 13 CB, 16 HR, 15 RR, 1 CL, 39 UK, 31 CN, 39 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 33.5 video, 50.8 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Joe Walsh was with the James Gang for three albums from 1968 to 1971. They had minor Billboard Hot 100 entires with “Funk #49” and “Walk Away,” both of which have become staples of classic rock radio. In a move that didn’t go well with his bandmates or record company, Walsh bolted for a solo career just as the group appeared to be primed for success. When he left the James Gang, he also bolted from his longtime home in Cleveland, Ohio, for Boulder, Colorado.

He formed the band Barnstorm and released an album of the same name in 1972. In 1973, they released The Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get, which featured the song “Rocky Mountain Way.” It “celebrates the scenery and lifestyle of Colorado” SF using the Rocky Mountains “as a focal point for the virtues of Colorado.” SF In some ways, this is “a rocked-up version of John Denver’s ‘Rocky Mountain High,’” SF released the year before. “The chunky slide guitar, lurching rhythm and rolling piano line on ‘Rocky Mountain Way’ does indeed capture the rugged natural beauty of that state.” UCR

He was inspired to write it while mowing his lawn and looking at the Rocky Mountains. He ran inside to write down the lyrics, but forgot to turn off the mower, which ran into the neighbor’s yard and ruined their garden. He joked, “It was a very expensive song to write.” SF

“Although they’re not exactly clear or literal, the lyrics seem to indicate Walsh moved in order to get away from some personal troubles, which apparently worked just as he imagined it: ‘And we don’t need the ladies crying ‘cuz the story’s sad / Cause the Rocky Mountain way is better than the way we had.’” UCR He has said, “I got kind of fed up with feeling sorry for myself, and I wanted to justify and feel good about leaving the James Gang, relocating, going for it on a survival basis. I wanted to say 'Hey, whatever this is, I'm positive and I'm proud', and the words just kind of came out of feeling that way, rather than writing a song out of remorse.” SF

“’Rocky Mountain Way’ is perhaps most famous for that incredible talk box guitar solo, but he didn’t pioneer this sound. Simpler forms of the technology had been used on records before. In fact, Walsh got his device from friend Bill West (Dottie West’s husband), and it had previously been used on Pete Drake’s 1955 song ‘Forever.’ Still, Walsh took things to a whole new level of popularity among his peers and the public. Peter Frampton was obviously inspired: He called Walsh to find out what this magic box was and how to use it,” UCR famously employing the technique on “Show Me the Way.”

Walsh, who is a big baseball fan, referenced the sport with the lyrics “bases are loaded and Casey’s at bat,” which alludes to a famous baseball poem. The song has since become associated with the game, most specifically the Colorado Rockies who play the song at their home stadium after a win.


First posted 7/26/2022.

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