The Highwomen Re-Create Classic ‘Highwayman’
"We are the Highwomen singing stories still untold / We carry the sons, you can only hold/ We are the daughters of the silent generations / You sent our hearts to die alone in foreign nations / It may return to us as tiny drops of rain / But we will still remain," the women sing.
"Highwomen," the song, tells the stories of a Freedom Rider, sung by Americana artist Yola along with a Honduran refugee, preacher and victim of the Salem Witch Trials. Sheryl Crow is also featured on backing vocals and Jason Isbell onguitar.
Jimmy Webb wrote and recorded "Highwayman" in 1977. Cash, Nelson, Jennings and Kristofferson remade the song in 1985; the song was somewhat of a theme song for their supergroup with the same name. Webb earned a Grammy Award for Best Country Song in 1986.
Webb collaborated with Carlile and Shires to write the new take on the song.
“[Their characters] all died doing things that men do,” Carlile told Rolling Stone. “Willie was a bandit. Johnny Cash drove a f--king starship, nobody knows why. We rewrote it with fates that befell women: a doctor convicted of witchcraft; an immigrant who died trying to get over the border but got the kids over safe and sound; a preacher; and a freedom rider who gets shot.”
All four women finish the song singing together in a powerful verse, bringing the stories together.
See the Highwomen + More at the 2019 Newport Folk Festival