HWY 100
King of the Blues
Mechanical Monkey
World's Smallest Confederate Veteran
Balloon Boy
This Old World
The Queen's Jewels
Ballad of the Minie Ball
Not With My Life
Texas Death Row Blues
More Complex
First Fall Friday Afternoon
Highway 100
Running to Paradise
Texasee Songs
Popular Culture
Texasee Sayings

Highways have long criss-crossed the landscape of Americana Music. From Howlin' Wolf's Highway 49 to Bob Dylan's Highway 61--and Hank Williams' "Lost Highway" which somehow encompasses them all.  Luke Powers new CD takes a tour of Highway 100, half real, half myth. The real Tennessee state road 100 runs from Nashville almost to Memphis.

Before I-40 became the main east-west artery in the 1950s, Highway 100 was the “blue highway” that carried a diversity of musicians playing country, blues, R&B and gospel to and from Music City, U.S.A.

Luke lives less than a mile from the real HWY 100. He lives even closer to the mythic one. His new CD chronicles the terrain that Greil Marcus famously called the “old weird America.” Part Civil War legend, part sideshow, part tall tale, part personal memory, HWY 100 gives the listener a ride and leaves him/her somewhere further on up the road.

Luke says this latest batch of musical phantasmagoria is inspired by Snopes.com and Franz Kafka.

“I won't use the cliché that these songs wrote themselves,”the songwriter says, “because I actually worked pretty hard to get them right. Or as Tommy Spurlock would say, 'wrong.'”

The songs are generally up-tempo and under three minutes (after an internet reviewer complained that the last album had too many slow songs).

“I know it's just one random guy's anonymous opinion,” Powers admits, “but if this guy wants fast songs, I'll give him fast songs. Maybe if I can satisfy this one [person], I can die a happy man!”


HWY 100: The Songs

The King of the Blues: a paean to the first bluesman to see his soul to the devil for a set of magic guitar strings (attached);

King of the Blues mp3     lyrics     video


Mechanical Monkey: What do you do when you realize that Life is not on your side?  Despair?  Rant?  Or just sing a song about it?  Features the post-WWII baby boomer toy with the windup chimp who plays cymbals.  Now that's rhythm! 

Mechanical Monkey mp3     lyrics     video


World's Smallest Confederate Veteran: If you've never been to a seedy carnival with toothless carnies and the smell of manure and the Old South, you probably won't recognize this situation.  But I've seen this.  He was a small person (i.e., midget), dressed in a Confederate uniform who told of heroics during the "real war" and sang "Johnny Reb" in a fine tenor voice.

World's Smallest Confederate Veteran mp3     lyrics


Balloon Boy: We all watched the tv.  We were all hoaxed.  Or were we?  In my mind's eye, where any truth I might know faithfully resides, that boy sails on, past the boundary of blue into a pitch-perfect heaven.  We don't all get to see the Rose of Heaven like Dante did in Canto 31 of the Paradiso, but I've seen some pretty good pictures.]

Balloon Boy mp3     lyrics     video


This Old World: No irony allowed.  Or intended.  Would I do it all over again if I could.  Of course I would.  And you're a liar or I feel tremendous sorrow for you if you say you wouldn't.

This Old World mp3     lyrics


Humanzee: A true story.  Sorta.  There was a chimp who was half-human.  48 genes instead of 47.  Walked naturally on his "hind" legs.  Turned up his nose at the other chimps (and vice versa).  Tried to "get it on" with his female "owner" and was banished to a "habitat."  Eventually DNA tests were done to the satisfaction of no one.  He knew he was unique.  This is his song.  With a nod to Franz Kafka's "A Report to the Academy."

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Queen's Jewels: We could not understand the uncanny if we hadn't lived it.  From the mountain top, the lights of town look like the queen's jewels tossed across the valley floor.  Memory is one of the few true forms of magic.

Queen's Jewels mp3     lyrics


The Ballad of the Minie Ball: Another true story.  If unsubstantiated.  During "the War," a yankee minie ball ricocheted off a rebel's thigh, through his groin, picking up some seed on the way.  It then landed in the waiting womb of a southern belle who just happened to be observing the action.  Nine months later, and as they say, it's all history.  Or as Snopes.com might say, "undetermined."

Ballad of the Minie Ball mp3     lyrics


Not with My Life: My attempt at an anthem.  Or at least a statement of principles.  In two minutes and twenty-five seconds.  Anything longer than that and you're either pretentious or fooling yourself.

Not with My Life mp3     lyrics


Texas Death Row Blues: a song about the “last of all songs”--sung by over 450 Texans in the last 30 year.  I don't know if they were all guilty or not.  I do know they're all dead.

Texas Death Row Blues mp3     lyrics      video


Starchild: An apparently true story.  It seems that the dead aliens at Roswell did not die.  They were reborn as humans.  Through occult practice and paranormal psychology, these reincarnated alien-humans have achieved a higher plane of evolution and have a message for us.  If at first you don't succeed, Run like Hell!

Starchild mp3     lyrics


More Complex: The judge has got dementia.  "He's lost his memory but not his grace."  If you really think that you are you, you're lost. 

More Complex mp3     lyrics


First Fall Friday Afternoon: Everything is always happening at once.  Poetry is the supreme fiction that you can sort them out sequentially.  Thanks to Miss Ruby, who is my son's busdriver. 

First Fall Friday Afternoon mp3     lyrics


Highway 100: The Title song.  From a real occurrence I had driving home on HWY 100.  This guy on a motorcycle goes flying by, followed by this cop car, which almost ran me off the road in pursuit.  I thought I was on my way to eternity as I vaulted over the Harpeth River Bridge, but I landed.

Highway 100 mp3     lyrics


Wolfman: For my buddy Marc, who used to have a Lon Chaney, Jr., screensaver and a bit of a temper.  "We've been human for too long."  I think that's a decent refrain.

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Naked: The final song.  The requiem.  I don't mean to bother anyone.  I just stand here naked with my jug of elderberry wine.

Naked mp3     lyrics


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