Music

Hear The Highwomen Reimagine 'Highwaymen' as a Statement of Purpose

The Highwomen's new song "Highwomen" updates Jimmy Webb's similarly titled "Highwayman," replacing the original narrative about a reincarnated blue-collar spirit with "stories still untold" about the murders of misunderstood women.

Per an interview with Zane Lowe's World Record on Apple Music's Beats 1, Highwomen members Amanda Shires and Brandi Carlile wrote their own lyrics set to the tune of "Highwayman" before turning to Webb for approval.

"We asked him if he wanted to contribute to the rewrite and we told him what the concept of the movement and the band was, and he wrote us back and said that he felt that it was spot on, and we were complimented by that to no end," Carlile says.

Webb's original version first appeared on his 1977 album El Mirage. A year later, it became a title track for regular Webb collaborator Glen Campbell. In 1985, it opened the self-titled debut of The Highwaymen, a supergroup consisting of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson.

Nearly 35 years later, The Highwomen's own eponymous album begins with an updated version. While Webb wrote about what a man will go through to make a living, his re-write with Shires and Carlile addresses brave women's sacrifices during the Salem Witch Trials and the Civil Rights Music, plus the mistreatment of immigrants and religious outsiders.

Shires and Carlile split four narrative-driven verses with bandmate Natalie Hemby and special guest Yola. The fourth Highwoman, Maren Morris, joins in on the chorus' harmonies.

"Highwomen" is the third single released off the group's album, out Sept. 6 via Low Country Sound/Elektra Records. Earlier this summer, the band unveiled gender role send-up "Redesigning Women" and a rallying cry for everyone to set aside their differences titled "Crowded Table."

"Highwomen" Lyrics

I was a Highwoman
And a mother from my youth
For my children I did what I had to do
My family left Honduras when they killed the Sandinistas
We followed a coyote through the dust of Mexico
Every one of them except for me survived
And I am still alive

I was a healer
I was gifted as a girl
I laid hands upon the world
Someone saw me sleeping naked in the noon sun
I heard "witchcraft" in the whispers and I knew my time had come
The bastards hung me at the Salem gallows hill
But I am living still

I was a freedom rider
When we thought the South had won
Virginia in the spring of '61
I sat down on the Greyhound that was bound for Mississippi
My mother asked me if that ride was worth my life
And when the shots rang out I never heard the sound
But I am still around

And I'll take that ride again
And again
And again
And again
And again

I was a preacher
My heart broke for all the world
But teaching was unrighteous for a girl
In the summer I was baptized in the mighty Colorado
In the winter I heard the hounds and I knew I had been found
And in my Savior's name, I laid my weapons down
But I am still around

We are The Highwomen
Singing stories still untold
We carry the sons, you can only hold
We are the daughters of the silent generations
You sent our hearts to die alone in foreign nations
It may return to us as tiny drops of rain
But we will still remain

And we'll come back again and again and again
And again and again
And we'll come back again and again and again
And again and again
We'll come back again and again and again
And again and again
And we'll come back again and again and again
And again and again

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Hear The Highwomen Reimagine 'Highwaymen' as a Statement of Purpose