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No. 57: Joe Walsh, ‘Rocky Mountain Way’ – Top 100 Classic Rock Songs

Joe Walsh The Smoker You Drink The Player You Get
ABC Records

We’ve already seen Joe Walsh on our Top 100 Classic Rock Songs list as a member of the James Gang, and it’s a pretty safe bet we’ll be checking in on him later as part of the Eagles, but right now how about we take a trip down ‘Rocky Mountain Way?’

Technically, we could have snuck Walsh onto our countdown four times. Even though only his name is on the cover, this song actually comes from the second album by his post-James Gang project, Barnstorm.

Reportedly inspired by the longtime Ohio native’s move to Colorado, ‘Rocky Mountain Way”s chunky slide guitar, lurching rhythm and rolling piano line does indeed capture the rugged natural beauty of that state.

Although they’re not exactly clear or literal, the lyrics seem to indicate Walsh moved to our squarest state — and we mean that both ways — 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.”

The track is perhaps most famous for that incredible talk box guitar solo. Although simpler forms of the technology had been used on records for decades prior to ‘Rocky Mountain Way,’ Walsh’s use of the device — which he got from his friend Bill West (Dottie West‘s husband), and which the guitarist tells us was used on Pete Drake’s 1955 song ‘Forever‘ — took things to a whole new level of popularity among his peers and the public.

Peter Frampton was obviously inspired — in fact, enough so to call Walsh and find out what this magic box was and how to use it. The results can be heard on Frampton’s own entry on our Top 100 list, ‘Show Me the Way.’

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Watch Joe Walsh Perform ‘Rocky Mountain Way’

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