"The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys"

Occassionally I listen to oldies radio.

Lately, I’ve been catching this song with the refrain “the sound that you’re hearing is only the low spark of high-heeled boys” in amongst meandering lyrics and riffs.

WTF? :confused:

Can someone explain this cryptic bit to me?

Don MacLean’s American Pie makes more sense to me.

I’ve seen the following explanation from Traffic drummer Jim Capaldi at a bunch of different music sites

Tells you where the title/chorus comes from, but it doesn’t literally answer your question because the song is very open to interpretation. I always thought there was something about the music industry going on (the “man in the suit”) stuff.

One of my favorite songs!

It’s about the degradations and stupidity of the rock and roll business, though I’m only guessing that the “high-heeled boys” are the rock stars themselves.

Traffic may be old, but it’s not oldies.


I am not old, I am not old.

It’s sad that this is the only Traffic song you hear on the radio. Not that it isn’t great, but Traffic was one of the greatest goups of their time. Low Spark is just the tip of their talent (and I can’t figure out why they play a 12-minute song instead of the group’s shorter works). They had two first-class songwriters in Steve Winwood and Dave Mason, put out at least four albums that deserve to be in the top 100 of all time, but are pretty much unknown to anyone nowadays.

John Barleycorn must die, doncha think?

Couldn’t agree more!

RealityChuck What’s your top ten Traffic songs?

I’m not RealityChuck, but here are mine:

  1. Pearly Queen
  2. Many A Mile To Freedom
  3. Cryin’ to be Heard
  4. 40,000 Headmen
  5. Vagabond Virgin
  6. John Barleycorn Must Die
  7. Rainmaker
  8. You Can All Join In
  9. Freedom Rider
  10. Dear Mr. Fantasy
    The first album is the best, IMHO. There isn’t a bad song on it.

Nobody ever mentions the wonderful “Dream Gerrard” and nobody ever plays it, either.

Must be the lyrics.

Ooh, I wanna play, too.

  1. Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
  2. Rainmaker
  3. Forty Thousand Headmen
  4. Shanghai Noodle Factory
  5. Medicated Goo
  6. Pearly Queen
  7. Dealer
  8. Dear Mr. Fantasy
  9. John Barleycorn
  10. Freedom Rider

Me, too! Me, too! (except I couldn’t get it down to just ten)
In no particular order:
Sad and Deep As You (&)
Forty Thousand Headmen (from Welcome to the Canteen)
Feelin’ Alright
Pearly Queen
Empty Pages
Rock ‘N’ Roll Stew
The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys
Glad / Freedom Rider (live version from On The Road)
Hidden Treasure
Nowhere Is Their Freedom
When The Eagle Flies
(and for Exapno Mapcase) Dream Gerrard

And honorable mentions go to “Why Can’t We Live Together” and “Silvia (Who Is She?)” from Steve Winwood’s About Time. (Even if you haven’t liked his other solo work, you should check these out.) (For video, the only (DVD) choice is The Last Great Traffic Jam, which I also recommend highly.)

Regarding the OP, I’ve always gone on the assumption that the lyrics were meaningful only to the writer (if even then). For me, they mean about as much as the lyrics to “A Whiter Shade Of Pale”.

  1. Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
  2. Glad/Freedom Rider
  3. Dear Mr. Fantasy
  4. Feelin’ Alright?
  5. Heaven is in Your Mind
  6. Stranger to Himself
  7. 40,000 Headmen
  8. Paper Sun
  9. John Barleycorn
  10. You Can All Join In

Honorable mention: Shootout at the Fantasy Factory; Hole in My Shoe; Light Up and Leave Me Alone; Gimme Some Lovin’ (live version); No Face, No Name, No Number; Pearly Queen; and Medicated Goo.

So, getting back to “Low Spark” for a moment…
What is the instrument featured in the long instrumental passage in the second half of the song? I’ve never exactly been able to pin it down, but it almost sounds like a saxophone run through some kind of effects box.

I can’t answer your question but just wanted to comment on how appropriate your name is for this thread. Lost yer spark, did ya? :wink:

It’s an organ played through a fuzzbox.

I just browsed this webpage “Pearly Kings and Queens”, the likely source for Traffic’s “Pearly Queen”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearly_Kings_and_Queens

It may not be Traffic as such, but I’ve played this lp quite a lot since I got it a couple of years ago. Good fun!

I know this is a zombie thread, but…

We must be listening to different radio stations, because the only Traffic song I hear on the radio is “Feelin’ Alright”.

Oddly enough, the last Traffic song I’ve heard on the radio is “Paper Sun”. But that’s cause it was played at the end of a block of Traffic. I hadn’t bought any Traffic up until that point, but I did purchase that one when I heard it. I even waited until the end of the block to make sure it wasn’t a different artist since it seemed so out of place. (Which isn’t to say I dislike the band, I wouldn’t turn off any song I heard from them on the radio.)

In five years, things change. :slight_smile:

Doesn’t the radio go to Joe Cocker for “Feelin’ Alright?”?