The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys was the album and the song, and it’s a song that’ll never die. It was recorded by Traffic, written by Winwood/Capaldi, and last time I checked, Winwood still goes out on the road and plays it for people. Play it for yourself, but sit back and listen carefully, there’s a lot happening.

The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys

OK, John Barleycorn may be more coherent, but Low Spark is the Traffic album (and the song) for me. The melody is memorable, the singing is strong, and the piano foundation is dreamy, but for me it’s the sax line from Chris Wood that brings it home.

Wood is another chapter in the sad old rock-n-roll drink/drugs/death story, but he left some fine music behind. I have an obscure 2008 album called Vulcan; then there was a later, apparently distinct, compilation called Moon Child Vulcan.

Anyhow: If you see something that looks like a star / And it's shooting up out of the ground / And your head is spinning from a loud guitar…

This is part of the Song of the Day series (background).

Links · Spotify playlist. This tune on Amazon, iTunes (album only), Spotify. This live video from 1972 is a little unfortunate in that the audio mix loses the percussion entirely (and is that Larry Wall on drums?) but it does highlight a big Chris Woods solo. There’s lots more video, mostly from one of Winwood’s other touring bands, each of which has a sax player, and they all sound like they listened to Chris a whole lot.


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From: Bob DuCharme (Mar 01 2018, at 10:48)

A few years ago I printed out the one page shown at and left it on our piano at home just so that I can sit down and play that classic bass-chord thing pretty much like the record whenever I want. Definitely fun.


From: StanD. (Mar 01 2018, at 11:10)

Good pick! The dissonant chord that Winwood blasts out on the organ for the last 20 seconds of that song is one of my favorite Musical Things.


From: Jhon Hall (Mar 02 2018, at 12:25)

I assume that the chord at the end is the sound of the dead drug dealer slumped onto his steering wheel's horn


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March 01, 2018
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