Song of the Day, March 30: The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys by Traffic

TrafficLowSparkToday’s song is the title track from classic rock group Traffic’s magnum opus, The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys. By 1971, the ever-changing Traffic line-up included three of the group’s founders — Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, and Chris Wood — and the dynamic three-man rhythm section of Ric Grech, Jim Gordon and Rebop Kwaku Baah. Winwood and Capaldi wrote most of the tracks together, including this amazing song. Capaldi credits actor Michael J. Pollard with the title and concept. While vacationing together in Morocco, Pollard wrote the words on the flyleaf of the book Capaldi was reading. He felt like it was a perfect description of Pollard and of the times.

For me, it summed him up. He had this tremendous rebel attitude. He walked around in his cowboy boots, his leather jacket. At the time he was a heavy little dude. It seemed to sum up all the people of that generation who were just rebels. The ‘Low Spark,’ for me, was the spirit, high-spirited. You know, standing on a street corner. The low rider. The ‘Low Spark’ meaning that strong undercurrent at the street level.

He and Winwood crafted a mini-epic that dissects the entertainment business with smart precision. Blending Traffic’s best jazzy inclinations with a tight rock rhythm, the surging track lasts almost twelve minutes. As many critics have observed, the overall effect is so mesmerizing that it’s sneaks by, never seeming to be as long as it is. Winwood turns in one of his finest vocals as well, capturing the glittering promise and underlying menace in equal measure. Languorous, insistent, and subtle, it’s a powerful musical achievement. Enjoy this classic track today.

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About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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