A number of hard and indie rocker legends united recently to perform a cover of the The Highwaymen’s famed country song “Highwayman.” The performance was a part of The Seattle Musicians For Children’s Hospitals (SMooCH) Guild’s annual benefit, which was made virtual this year due to the ongoing coronavirus. The event took place last week was put on in a joint partnership between iconic Seattle record label Sub Pop Records and local radio station KEXP.
The live performance featured the likes of Mark Lanegan, Duff McKagan of Guns N’ Roses, Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse and Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie playing the famed song, which was originally released by American singer/songwriter Jimmy Webb in 1977 on his album El Mirage. The following year, Glen Campbell recorded his version of the song, which was released on his 1979 album, aptly called The Highwayman.
Perhaps most famously, in 1985 the song served as the inspiration for the super group The Highwaymen comprised of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. The group’s first album, Highwayman, went on to become a number one, platinum-selling record while their take on the track reached number one on the Hot Country Songs Billboard chart – a title it held for 20 weeks. After these marquee renditions of the tune kept garnering Webb more acclaim, the Highwaymen version finally saw Webb receive accolades himself when he won the Grammy Award for Best Country Song in 1986.
“Highwayman” continues to be one of most iconic songs in American songwriting and is still widely covered today. Webb would go on to release an alternative version of the track on his 1996 solo album Ten Easy Pieces. He also unveiled a live version of the song in 2007 before releasing a duet version of the track with Mark Knopfler on the 2010 album Just Across the River.