Puneet Varma

The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys (song)

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Released  November 1971
Label  Island
Length  11:35
Recorded  September 1971, Island Studios, London
Genre  Progressive rock, jazz rock
Writer(s)  Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi

"The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys" is a song by the band Traffic from their 1971 album of the same name. The song was written by Jim Capaldi and Steve Winwood.


Lyrics and composition

The title refers to an inscription written by actor Michael J. Pollard in Jim Capaldi's book while they were both in Morocco. Capaldi and Pollard were planning to work on a movie that was never filmed. Capaldi said:

Pollard and I would sit around writing lyrics all day, talking about Bob Dylan and the Band, thinking up ridiculous plots for the movie. Before I left Morocco, Pollard wrote in my book 'The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys.' For me, it summed him up. He had this tremendous rebel attitude. He walked around in his cowboy boots, his leather jacket. At the time he was a heavy little dude. It seemed to sum up all the people of that generation who were just rebels. The 'Low Spark,' for me, was the spirit, high-spirited. You know, standing on a street corner. The low rider. The 'Low Spark' meaning that strong undercurrent at the street level.

The song begins with a gradual fade-in and ends with a slow fade-out. At about 11 minutes and 35 seconds, it is the longest song on the album. The song and the album received wide praise, both in print and on broadcasts. It uses a sparse arrangement with a slow deliberate pace alternating with a double-time densely layered pop chorus. The verses are in D minor while the choruses modulate to D major with a repeated piano riff in D Minor.. The song is noted for the extended solos played by band members in the later portions of the song. David Lubin wrote in his album review that appeared in Rolling Stone in 1972, "Each member of the group lays down a track or tracks which could in parts stand alone."

In addition to the version on the album, another version is available on the Revolutions – The Very Best of Steve Winwood album, on both the single disc and the box set. This version is a different mix where various solos not on the album version are heard. There is no indication of this on the album, but like some others songs on the compilation, it is clearly different.

Capaldi had originally written only two verses of lyrics. He quickly wrote the third verse while Winwood was recording the song's vocal and slipped it in front of him in time for him to sing it.


A live rendition of the song is the opening track on Traffic's only concert video, which was recorded at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica, California on 21 February 1972, with the lineup of Winwood, Capaldi, Wood, Rebop Kwaku Baah (percussion), David Hood (bass) and Roger Hawkins (drums). Another live recording with the same lineup plus extra keyboardist Barry Beckett appears on the album On the Road.

In addition to being performed solo by both Capaldi and Winwood after the breakup of Traffic, the song has been covered by Rickie Lee Jones, Widespread Panic, The Dead, and EMF among others.


  • Steve Winwood - vocal, piano, organ
  • Chris Wood - saxophone
  • Jim Capaldi - additional percussion
  • Ric Grech - bass
  • Jim Gordon - drums
  • Reebop Kwaku Baah - congas
  • References

    The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys (song) Wikipedia

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