I was a highwayman
Along the coach roads I did ride
With sword and pistol by my side
Many a young maid lost her baubles to my trade
Many a soldier shed his lifeblood on my blade
The bastards hung me in the spring of twenty-five
But I am still alive

I was a sailor
I was born upon the tide
And with the sea I did abide
I sailed a schooner round the Horn to Mexico
I went aloft and furled the mainsail in a blow
And when the yards broke off they said that I got killed
But I am living still

I was a dam builder
Across the river deep and wide
Where steel and water did collide
A place called Boulder on the wild Colorado
I slipped and fell into the wet concrete below
They buried me in that great tomb that knows no sound
But I am still around
I'll always be around and around and around and around and around

I fly a starship
Across the Universe divide
And when I reach the other side
I'll find a place to rest my spirit if I can
Perhaps I may become a highwayman again
Or I may simply be a single drop of rain
But I will remain
And I'll be back again, and again and again and again and again

Lyrics submitted by SongMeanings, edited by BrunoP, SunnyNLisa

"Highwayman" as written by Jimmy Webb

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management, Universal Music Publishing Group

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The Highwayman song meanings
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  • +5
    General CommentThis song, like many other great songs has a double meaning. At first glance the lyrics may seem very simplistic and are merely telling the story of 3 rugged men who met their untimely deaths by doing great and powerful things, and the determinination and continuity and power of the human spirit to endure. This also speaks to the great mystery of what lies across the greay veil of death. Death is not the end but the beginning of another journey. Everything in the universe is made of energy and that energy can never be destroyed, it can only change forms.

    "Ill be back again and again and again and again and again."
    lordfinxon March 10, 2005   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI love all the singers in this song. My favorite though is Waylon Jennings. He has such a deep rich voice that just makes me tingle. I love listening to him sing because it reminds me a lot of my grandparents. I always thought the meaning of this song is that no matter what, whether you be a criminal or a worker, when you die a tragic death, someone will step in to take your place and they will die and the cycle just keeps going.
    Brunicason November 07, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentAlthough most (if not all) of these men are devout Christians, the song is about reincarnation. I also believe that they are all singing as different incarnations of the same soul.

    You'll notice that Willy Nelson was a highwayman, and in the last stanza Cash says that he "could be a highwayman again." Either they're different highwaymen----which is unlikely, or they're the same person.
    sakeboxon April 16, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentWe are all Highway men. Spiritual beings on a timeless journey, experiencing endless experiences on multiple dimensions. Including the earth plane, with all its ebbs and flows, trials and tribulations.

    He was a Highway man. Then a sailor, reincarnated once again into a dam builder, then a star ship driver, presumably possessing, superior abilities or technology compared to his earlier incarnations, which may afford him greater levels of understanding and evolvement…

    However, once graduating or evolving to this ascended being he is not fazed, if he is so pleased to once again be a highway man, or a drop of rain for that matter, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, for life is just a dream. As he now understands that time as we understand it on earth is but as illusion, necessary only for earth existence.

    The true man, or spirit man, is an eternal, cyclical, being. Once again, being born, dying and remerging, evolving on different dimensions as a true spiritual being. Where the physical body is only a vehicle which temporarily houses for a period of time the eternal spirit or soul, where there is truly no beginning and no end, just and endless possibilities, cycling, again, again and again. What a truly great and wonderful song, magically performed by four splendid legends in there own right. Putting all that together. It will remain one of the all time classics songs
    bennett26on December 07, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think it doesn't have so much to do with reincarnation, or these personas as actual individuals. Instead, consider each man described - the highwayman, the sailor, the dambuilder, as archetypes of the past. The last part, then, refers to the driving spirit of adventure that will never die, regardless of how the world may change.
    gfunkmartinon December 17, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think it's more about the human spirit and will to endure, and less about the concept of reincarnation.

    The song tries to say that even though men die, there are still others with the same attitude and resolve to press on. You might say they each had the same type of spirit (the highway man) in them.
    spartan0187on March 16, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI can't believe hardly anyone has posted anything for this song. It is bloody awsome. Love it how they all just do a verse each, the song doesnt get dragged out (like so many do) and they leave you asking for more.
    itzfj5on September 27, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love this song, my brother in Augest of 2006 told me to listen to track 14 off of CASH'S hits album. I did. I wish I could go back to hear it again for the first time (as with most songs that I love) cuz its amazing! There are many things I love about it....what I noticed first was how they all sing in the same context, with tone I mean, and rhyme. I love the sounds that are added too like after "where steel and water did collide (sound)" And I love the drum beat how it keeps you pumped even in a country song kinda way.

    I believe this is the order of singers
    Willie (obviously)
    Johnny (obviously)

    Someone tell me if I have Kris and Waylon's order correct.

    Someone tell me also, when was this song recorded? And if its as old as someone said (1985ish) Was the recording I listen to on CASH's HITS re-recorded and mastered by Rick Rubin because it sounds incredibly up to date.

    I listened to this constantly when I would bike ride in the summer for 3-5 hours. I saved this song for the hards parts going up hill in the country. I listen to the harder faster stuff in the city and down near the beach.

    I'm sure nobody asks for all of this stuff I say, but whatever...music owns me

    TimeIsPreciouson October 04, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAs for the meanings, yes I believe it is about the journey of man or great men, and how they will live even after death. You could also think mabye they were getting older and wanted to leave a song that keeps them alive....I love this song for so many reasons...

    I dedicate it to Ninh, the lil ninja

    TimeIsPreciouson October 04, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is completely about reincarnation
    bill stopageon December 30, 2006   Link

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