Key to the Highway


Key to the Highway Haiku

Weary traveller
Walk on
The road beckons
Snow-capped mountains await

For those of you who are not familiar with this song, as well as for those who are and don’t mind hearing it again, just click on the arrow below to hear Key to the Highway, the classic blues song by Bill Broonzy circa 1940.

I play Key to the Highway all the time. It’s not a standard 12 bar blues. It’s an 8 bar blues, if I’m not mistaken. It goes from the tonal (E) to the 5th (B) in the second bar… Well, then it has a few drinks, staggers into the 4th (A), returns to the tonal (E) for good measure (actually one measure and a double shot). Then to the 5th again. Then back to the tonal of course (by now it’s the 7th bar and you must be totally inebriated). And then there’s the turn-around if you’re still able to walk…..Well, it’s recommended that you have a designated driver if you want to make it through this song.

14 thoughts on “Key to the Highway

  1. Very cool. I’ve been working a lot on my music theory and scales lately. Any recommendations for good resources to improve my soloing? I’ve just been going over scales at different intervals and practicing various licks I find online.

    1. Sorry. I can’t help you. I play by ear and can’t handle the charts and instruction books for soloes. I’m still trying to learn to read! (Here’s one: I’m a self-made man. An example of unskilled labor) But whatever theory I’ve gleaned has been very useful and illuminating. Keep playing, Dave. And thanks for the compliment.

  2. Big Bill Broonzy is one of those names that I’ve been hearing for so long that it’s taken on almost a mythic quality. Despite this, I’ve yet to actually “hear” him. I’ll have to make a point to correct that.
    I would have said I’d never heard “Key to the Highway,” but listening to your version (which I quite enjoyed), it sounded very familiar. Although I suppose I could be “remembering” a similar tune.

    1. Bill Broonzy is definitely worth checking out. This sort of progression is fairly common so you probably did hear it. Clapton does Key to the Highway. Brownie Mc Gee and Sonny Terry, who were my heroes, always did this song. Brownie wrote a number of songs or lyrics in this progression. Check out Brownie Mc Gee and Sonny Terry too. They’re wonderful.
      Glad you enjoyed the song.

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